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Apple Cider Vinegar for UTI – Is It Safe?

Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Maybe you have a friend who swears by using apple cider vinegar (also known as ACV) whenever she gets a urinary tract infection (UTI) or maybe you stumbled upon a thread about the benefits somewhere online. Now you’re wondering, Can it really be safe and effective?

When it comes to urinary tract infections, there are lots of home remedies people claim work. Among them, apple cider vinegar is one commonly claimed UTI cure that’s been generating some buzz and making the rounds on Internet health blogs. But we’re not ones to listen to just anybody about what’s safe and helpful for our bodies. So we decided to cut through the noise, and  turn to the experts for advice.

Fact-checking the health claims of the benefits of for infections

So-called medicinal claims of the benefits of vinegar for fighting infections are nothing new. As early as the 420 BC it was touted as a remedy, with Hippocrates using it treat his wounds (1). In the 1700s in the U.S., people used vinegar to treat everything from poison ivy to upset stomachs (1). That said, a 2006 medical review found there’s no evidence that suggests using vinegar (either by applying it or consuming it) will actually help treat infections (1).

Consuming apple cider vinegar for UTIs?

No research points to any benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar when it comes to helping with UTIs. In fact, vinegar is often listed as one of the many known dietary irritants of the bladder—i.e. foods you should avoid eating if you’re experiencing bladder issues (2). 

“There is a study from 2018 that shows that ACV decreases the growth of E.Coli (one of the major causes of UTIs) in petri dishes but there are no studies to date that show that ACV can cure a urinary tract infection. The only evidence-based treatment for UTIs are antibiotics.,” says Dr. Melynda Barnes, MD, the Clinical Director at Rory.

Vinegar baths for UTIs?

Seattle Children’s offers UTI care advice for post-puberty girls that includes warm dilute vinegar baths. “It’s important to note that the vinegar bath is not to cure UTIs but to help clean the genital area while the antibiotics fight the bacteria causing the UTI,” says Dr. Melynda Barnes, MD, the Clinical Director at Rory. If you decide to try this technique Seattle Children’s recommends soaking in a warm tub of water mixed with 2 ounces of vinegar, which may help clean the genital area.(3)

The final ruling on apple cider vinegar for UTIs

The takeaway from expert sources we trust is that ACV is no substitute for the real known treatment for UTIs: antibiotics. At best, an apple cider vinegar bath can be used—in addition to prescribed antibiotics—as a method of cleaning the vagina. 


References

Johnston CS, Gaas CA. Vinegar: medicinal uses and antiglycemic effect. MedGenMed. 2006;8(2):61. Published 2006 May 30.

Cleveland Clinic. Bladder-Irritating Foods. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14244-bladder-irritating-foods Last updated May 9, 2017. Accessed March 28, 2019.

Yagnik D, Serafin V, J Shah A. Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):1732. Published 2018 Jan 29. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-18618-x 

Seattle Children’s. Urinary Tract Infection – Female. https://www.seattlechildrens.org/conditions/a-z/urinary-tract-infection-female/. Seattle Children’s. Accessed March 28, 2019.