Most men have challenges with their erections from time to time.
Stress, exhaustion, anxiety, and too much alcohol can all have detrimental effects on your ability to achieve or maintain an erection.
But if erection challenges are happening often enough that they are causing emotional or psychological issues, impacting your relationships, or hurting your self-esteem, you may have a medical condition called erectile dysfunction (ED).
Erectile dysfunction, sometimes called impotence, is the inability to develop or sustain an erection firm long enough to enjoy satisfying sexual activity. It is a frustrating condition, but one that is quite common.
Research suggests that up to 30 million men have erectile dysfunction in the United States alone.
ED can affect people of any age, but it often impacts those over 40 years old.
If you have erectile dysfunction, there are treatment options that can help.
Numerous studies have shown that prescription medications, including phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra), and avanafil (Stendra,) can successfully increase blood flow to the penis, boost erectile function, and improve patient sexual satisfaction.
If you believe you have erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor.
They can assess your symptoms, determine if any other health conditions may be impacting your sexual performance, and recommend the medical treatment plan that is right for you.
You may have heard claims that some people use apple cider vinegar (ACV) as an alternative treatment option to address their erectile dysfunction.
In this article, I’ll explore the health benefits of ACV and whether there is any evidence that it can be an effective treatment for symptoms of ED or other health conditions.
I’ll also talk about the potential side effects of using ACV, and when to talk to your doctor.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
“Vinegar” comes from a French phrase that translates to “sour wine.”
You can make vinegar from carbohydrates including grapes, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, rice, wheat, and apples.
Because it has antimicrobial properties, vinegar has been used to pickle and preserve fruit and other foods since ancient times.
In ancient Greece, China, and parts of Africa, people used it to treat ulcers, sores, and coughs, fight infections, and aid digestion.
Apple cider vinegar, or cider vinegar, is made from fermented apple juice.
You create it by chopping or crushing apples into a juicy pulp and then adding yeast into the mixture.
The yeast eats the sugar in the apple juice and converts it to ethanol in a process called fermentation.
Once that process is over, Acetobacter bacteria, usually found on apple skin, oxidize the ethanol, transforming it into acetic acid.
The acid helps give ACV its tart taste, and is also what people believe to create its health benefits.
Commercially-available apple cider vinegar comes in both filtered and unfiltered forms.
Filtered ACV is pasteurized and doesn’t contain any sediment or bacteria.
Unfiltered apple cider vinegar is usually unpasteurized. It is “raw” because it contains trace amounts of the “mother,” a combination of yeast and probiotic bacteria that gives the liquid a cloudy appearance.
People use ACV in a variety of food and drinks, including salad dressings, chutneys, glazes, marinades, preserved fruit spreads, and hot tea recipes.
It can also be used as a disinfectant to kill harmful bacteria and fungi on surfaces around your home.
Some suggest that ACV is an effective home remedy and can treat a wide range of health problems.
There is little scientific evidence to back up most health claims.
The studies researching the health benefits of vinegar contain either small samples, or were conducted only on rats.
This means that more high-quality large studies are needed to prove the health benefits of apple cider vinegar in humans.
Potential Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV is touted as a cure-all for a wide range of ailments, including nail fungim head lice, constipation, indigestion, dandruff, heartburn, and, of course, erectile dysfunction.
There is little scientific evidence that most of these claims are valid.
That said, a few human and animal studies suggest apple cider vinegar may be beneficial for patients with certain conditions.
A few small studies suggest that there may be weight loss benefits to consuming apple cider vinegar.
In one study, 18 male rats were fed high-fat diets for 30 days, with some rats provided a daily dose of apple cider vinegar in addition to their food.
After observing the rats’ vital signs for a month, researchers found evidence that ACV had a satiating effect on the rats that consumed it.
The treatment also seemed to thwart certain metabolic disorders that could have otherwise developed due to their high-fat diet.
In a study of acetic acid, researchers asked obese study participants to drink a beverage that contained 15 mL of vinegar every day.
A control group was given a placebo beverage without vinegar to drink. At the end of 12 weeks, the study demonstrated that body weight, BMI, waist circumference, and other indicators were “significantly lower” in the group that drank vinegar compared to the placebo group.
They concluded that drinking vinegar regularly might help reduce obesity and prevent metabolic syndrome.
Lowering blood sugar
Historically, people drank vinegar with their meals as a home remedy for diabetes.
While there is no evidence to suggest that apple cider vinegar is an appropriate replacement for prescription medication, several studies indicate that consuming it can improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar.
In one study, scientists asked a group of healthy people and those with type 2 diabetes to consume a quarter-cup of apple cider vinegar diluted with water and a sweetening agent after eating a standardized meal.
ACV helped reduce blood sugar levels after eating for those who drank the mixture.
In another study, participants drank a vinegar solution before bedtime.
After measuring blood glucose for the study, scientists found that ingesting vinegar at night may be beneficial in lowering blood glucose levels for people with type 2 diabetes.
People have long prized apple cider vinegar for its antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties as well as for its role as a flavor enhancer.
For those reasons, it has been used for thousands of years as a natural preservative.
In addition, recent studies have shown that ACV can be used as a cleaning solution to kill bacteria like E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and fungi like Candida albicans during food preparation (though chemical disinfectants are more effective at disinfecting household surfaces).
There is anecdotal evidence that apple cider vinegar kills the bacteria behind ear infections and sore throats, but there is little research to suggest that ingesting or using ACV topically is effective.
Scientists discourage using vinegar to fight infections.
Using it can damage already inflamed skin, and in the ears, may damage delicate cochlear hairs.
If you are suffering from a health condition, seek appropriate medical treatment from a licensed healthcare professional before you try to treat your ailment at home.
Because apple cider vinegar is an antimicrobial agent, some claim that it has benefits for skin health.
Others use it as a toner or face wash, hoping to make their skin look brighter and smoother.
There is no actual evidence suggesting that apple cider vinegar improves skin health or treats dermatological ailments.
Studies that have experimented with apple cider vinegar to treat atopic dermatitis, for instance, have found no difference in skin bacteria among those that use ACV and those that don’t.
In certain circumstances, using apple cider vinegar can negatively impact the skin.
For example, at least one patient reported chemical burns and injury after using undiluted apple cider vinegar to remove unwanted moles.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Erectile Dysfunction: Does it Work?
There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that apple cider vinegar improves erectile function or helps your penis increase in size.
Doctors do not consider it a viable alternative treatment option for anyone who struggles with erectile dysfunction, even those who have concerns about the adverse effects of ED drugs.
Apple cider vinegar may help patients manage chronic illnesses that contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease each closely correlate with chronic difficulties getting an erection.
There is some evidence to support the idea that regularly ingesting apple cider vinegar can help patients lose weight, manage their blood sugar, and reduce the kind of cholesterol that puts them at risk for heart disease.
Apple cider vinegar should never replace prescription drugs, a healthy lifestyle, or other doctor-recommended therapies, but it can be one part of a nutritious diet and exercise program that, in turn, may improve blood flow and enhance erectile function.
How to Take Apple Cider Vinegar
There are several ways to consume apple cider vinegar safely.
You can add it to food as a salad dressing or use it in a marinade or glaze to flavor meals.
You can add ACV to warm water with other ingredients to make a tea, or dilute it in cool water to make a flavored tonic.
Most people who ingest apple cider vinegar for health reasons consume between one teaspoon and two tablespoons per day.
Many consume it before meals or on an empty stomach to avoid indigestion.
Supplements made from a dehydrated form of ACV are commercially available as well.
But there is little evidence to suggest that apple cider vinegar capsules or pills have any health benefits.
No matter how you choose to ingest apple cider vinegar, start slowly and limit your intake.
ACV is acidic and may lead to tooth enamel erosion, esophageal discomfort, and heartburn when drunk too often or in its raw, undiluted form.
It’s best to dilute ACV before taking it.
Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into an eight-ounce glass of water.
Try drinking ACV through a straw, and always rinse your mouth with water after you take it.
To minimize dental effects, wait at least a half an hour before brushing your teeth after drinking ACV.
Side Effects of Taking Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is not a cure-all and is not for everyone.
It should never replace prescription medication, healthy lifestyle habits, or other doctor-recommended treatment plans.
As an acidic substance, ACV can also cause adverse side effects, particularly if ingested too often or improperly.
Side effects of taking apple cider vinegar include:
- Gastroparesis, or delayed stomach emptying
- Dental enamel erosion
- Tooth decay
- Esophageal burns
- Skin burns
Apple cider vinegar may also negatively interact with particular prescription and over-the-counter medications.
If you are taking any of the following drugs, talk to your doctor before ingesting apple cider vinegar:
- Insulin-stimulating medications
- Blood potassium-related medications
- Diuretic medicines
In rare cases, patients may experience an allergic reaction to apple cider vinegar.
If you consume ACV and begin to experience coughing or wheezing, have difficulty breathing or talking, develop a skin rash, or feel your lips, tongue, throat, or mouth swell, call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room.
When to See a Doctor
Your physical, emotional, and sexual health makes a big difference in your quality of life.
If you have reason to believe you are suffering from a chronic condition like erectile dysfunction, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or another ailment, talk to a doctor before trying to treat yourself with a home remedy like apple cider vinegar.
Your doctor can assess your symptoms and provide an accurate diagnosis that will help you understand and manage your condition.
They can prescribe medications and other therapies to help you address your concerns, and recommend healthy lifestyle changes to improve your health and well-being.
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Beneficial effect of apple vinegar on reproductive parameters in male rat model of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. (2018).
Chemical Bum from Vinegar Following an Internet-based Protocol for Self-removal of Nevi. (2015).
Apple cider vinegar soaks do not alter the skin bacterial microbiome in atopic dermatitis. (2021).
Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect. (2006).
Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. (2018).
Vinegar Ingestion at Bedtime Moderates Waking Glucose Concentrations in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes. (2007).
Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes. (2004).
Vinegar Consumption Increases Insulin-Stimulated Glucose Uptake by the Forearm Muscle in Humans with Type 2 Diabetes. (2015).
Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. (2009).
Anti-obesogenic effect of apple cider vinegar in rats subjected to a high fat diet. (2016).
Relationship between age and erectile dysfunction diagnosis or treatment using real-world observational data in the United States. (2017).
Diabetes: Erectile Dysfunction (ED). (2021).