Headaches are a common annoyance for most people. There are numerous claims about the benefits of apple cider vinegar, from improving digestion to helping to treat headaches.
Whether apple cider vinegar is effective for treating headaches is not yet scientifically proven, but it is still praised by many as a natural treatment that can do little harm. In this article, we look at the evidence.
Benefits of apple cider vinegar for headaches
Apple cider vinegar may work on the underlying cause of a headache.
Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar can contain iron, potassium, and calcium. Both the minerals and the acidity in apple cider vinegar could indirectly help headaches.
Apple cider vinegar may also aid digestion, which can help prevent headaches caused by digestive issues.
One study found that apple cider vinegar reduces blood sugar levels in subjects with diabetes. This benefit could help regulate blood sugar spikes, which sometimes cause headaches.
However, people with diabetes should speak to a doctor before using apple cider vinegar for their symptoms.
It is also thought that inhaling vaporized apple cider vinegar can help clean out the sinuses and relieve a sinus headache.
How apple cider vinegar works
Apple cider vinegar does not directly affect a headache in the way that an over-the-counter painkiller does.
Headaches can have different causes, ranging from allergies and digestive issues to stress and high blood pressure. Apple cider is thought to work on the underlying cause of a headache.
Dehydration is another common cause of headaches. Even though many people drink plenty of liquids throughout the day, not all liquids act the same way in the body.
Highly-caffeinated liquids or sweetened drinks may make the body thirstier. Adding apple cider vinegar to a tall glass of water may increase the number of minerals in the water, helping someone stay hydrated and potentially lessening headache pain.
Apple cider vinegar home remedies
Apple cider vinegar has a strong flavor, especially for those who are not used to it. The most basic apple cider vinegar recipe is:
- 1 teaspoon (tsp) apple cider vinegar
- 12 ounces (oz) of water
A person can drink this mixture, as needed, for headache relief.
There are a variety of tastier ways to incorporate apple cider vinegar into a home remedy, including:
Cold apple tonic
Replacing half the water in the basic recipe with apple juice can lessen the drink’s strong acidic flavor. Some people may choose to sweeten it with honey.
- 8 oz of water
- 8 oz of apple juice
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp honey (optional)
A person should add the ingredients to a large glass and stir if necessary then drink, as needed, for symptoms.
Warm cayenne honey drink
The cayenne pepper in this drink gives it a spicy kick, while it is sweetened with the honey.
- 8 oz of warm water
- 1 heaping tsp of honey
- 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
- dash of cayenne powder
The ingredients should be mixed in a heat resistant mug and drunk, as needed.
This recipe should not be drunk but used as a steam bath to help clear the sinuses.
- 3 cups of boiled water
- 2 oz of apple cider vinegar
- large pot or heat-proof bowl
- large towel
Add the apple cider vinegar to the boiled water and then remove it from the heat source. Placing a towel over the head and pot, inhale the steam for 5 minutes at a time, as needed.
Risks and complications
Apple cider vinegar may help to slow digestion.
Apple cider vinegar should always be diluted. Although it may contain less acid that white vinegar, it is still very acidic.
This acid may damage the throat or break down the enamel of the teeth over time. It may also burn the skin after extended periods of contact.
People with diabetes may want to avoid apple cider vinegar except when they and their doctor are directly monitoring the effects it has on their blood sugar.
Apple cider vinegar is also believed to slow digestion. This may cause issues for people who already have a slow digestive time. Anyone in doubt should talk to a doctor about possible interactions or complications apple cider vinegar may have.
Other remedies for headaches
There are many different treatments for headaches that are readily available for use at home. These include:
Drinking more water: Water can keep a person hydrated and relieve headaches caused by dehydration.
Over-the-counter medications: Some common painkillers, such as ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin (Bayer), or acetaminophen (Tylenol), can help relieve headache pain.
Reducing stress: Stress and anxiety can cause headaches in some people, so finding ways to reduce stress may reduce symptoms.
Napping: Taking a short nap can allow the body to relax and relieve a tension headache.
Using a heating pad: A heating pad can bring fresh blood to the head, neck, and shoulders to reduce a headache.
Using cool packs: A cool pack on the back of the neck and shoulders works better than a heating pad for some people.
Aromatherapy: Lavender oil and peppermint oil may relieve headaches in some people.
There is little scientific evidence directly supporting the claim that apple cider vinegar can treat headaches. Many people do find relief from drinking diluted apple cider vinegar regularly, which may be due to its additional health benefits.
Anyone experiencing regular headaches should see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment tips. A doctor may recommend stress reduction, alternative therapies, or prescription medications.