Apple Cider Vinegar as Gout Treatment

By Terez Malka, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
December 21, 2021

Gout has been battled by sufferers and studied by doctors and scientists since the earliest days of recorded medical history.

But there’s no cure for the painful buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints.

People suffering from gout can—and do—try anything to relieve the discomfort and inflammation, including a host of at-home remedies. Some work. Others don’t.

Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries as a cure-all for many health problems.

But is it an effective treatment method for gout?

In this article, I’ll cover the possible benefits of taking apple cider vinegar, how it can affect gout, and any risks you may encounter.

I’ll also talk about when you should talk to a doctor about your gout.

What is Gout?

Gout is a condition caused by the buildup of uric acid in the joints.

If uric acid is not properly excreted from the body, then it accumulates as crystals in the joints.

The buildup causes pain, redness, and inflammation.

Gout is a metabolic disease, dependent on your diet and genetic history.

If your older family members have gout, there’s a likelihood you will also contract gout. 

Diet plays an important role in the development of gout too.

Certain foods have purines, chemicals that the body metabolizes into uric acid.

A high purine diet, one with alcohol, sugar, and organ meats, can lead to the crystallization of uric acid. 

If you have gout, you will feel pain and inflammation in the bunion joint of the big toe.

It feels similar to arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Gout can easily spread to other joints like the ankles, knees, elbows, and hands if not properly managed.

If you suspect you have gout, see your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis.

Your doctor may order blood work to confirm your diagnosis, or take a sample of fluid from your inflamed joint. 

In some cases, they may diagnose you just based on your history and exam.

If you do have gout, diet and lifestyle changes are the most common recommendations for treating gout.

Your doctor may also recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or the prescription medicine indomethacin, for pain during flares. 

There are other prescription medications that can help including corticosteroids, probenecid, and colchicine for acute flares, and allopurinol or febuxostat to prevent flares.

There are also dietary treatments that are rumored to treat gout, including apple cider vinegar, cranberry juice, cherry juice, and celery. 

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What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Made from fermented apple products, apple cider vinegar is considered to have many health benefits, including weight loss, lower blood pressure, and diabetes relief.

However, 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.

Possible Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar, or specifically the key ingredient within it, acetic acid, may help a variety of conditions.

Apple cider vinegar, or specifically the key ingredient within it, acetic acid, may help a variety of conditions.

Although no study guarantees the use of apple cider vinegar as a treatment for gout, some studies show it may manage some of its contributing factors.

Weight loss

Some studies found that giving apple cider vinegar to rats resulted in weight loss.

A study from 2016 gave male rats 7 mL of apple cider vinegar each day for 30 days.

After 30 days, there was a significant change in body weight and food intake.

The vinegar made the rats feel full faster, so they ate less than usual. 

In a study of 175 obese people from 2009, participants consumed a few tablespoons of vinegar each day.

After three months, those consuming the vinegar each day had lost 2-4 more pounds than a group that just drank water, and had lower triglyceride levels.

However, some of the participants claimed to feel nauseous after taking the apple cider vinegar, which led them to eat less.

This study did not follow participants for longer than three months, so the long-term impact of apple cider vinegar in humans for weight loss is unknown. 

Lower blood pressure

Many people claim apple cider vinegar lowers blood pressure, but there are no quality human studies that prove this claim to be true.

A review in 2016 stated that drinking 15 mL of vinegar led to lower blood pressure, but said this could be associated with a reduction in weight.

Losing just 10% of your weight if you are overweight has been associated with significant reductions in blood pressure.  

Unfortunately, there have not been any quality studies of apple cider vinegar and blood pressure in humans, so the actual impact of apple cider vinegar on blood pressure remains unknown. 

Use of apple cider vinegar should never replace your prescribed blood pressure medication or your doctor’s recommendations.

Good bacteria

Apple cider vinegar is known for having natural probiotics, or “good” bacteria.

Natural probiotics may help improve bacteria in the gut, which can help improve your digestion and immune system- though these effects have not been proven in human studies. 

Vinegar also has antimicrobial properties, which is why it is recommended for cleaning surfaces in your home. 

The antibiotic effects in the human body have not been proven.

If you’re planning to ingest apple cider vinegar or use it on your skin, dilute it with water first.

The acid within apple cider vinegar is very strong and can cause damage to tissues and teeth if used directly.

Blood sugar control

There is some good news for those who love apple cider vinegar’s health benefits.

There are multiple studies that support the claim that taking vinegar lowers blood glucose levels. 

Research published in the Journal of Diabetes found that people with type 2 diabetes can use their insulin more effectively when they incorporate vinegar into their diet.

It helps improve their post-meal blood sugar levels. 

Controlling blood sugar levels may be the most important health benefit that apple cider vinegar provides, and is the effect that has been most thoroughly studied- though most studies were in mice or were short-term studies

Manage cholesterol levels

Those with extra weight are frequently told to manage their cholesterol levels.

Apple cider vinegar might be able to help with that.In 2018, a trial compared the use of apple cider vinegar along with a restricted-calorie diet to a restricted-calorie diet alone to lower cholesterol levels.

The trial found that apple cider vinegar reduced triglyceride and cholesterol levels more than restricting calories does.

However, this study was small and short-term, so further research is needed to formally prove this benefit.

Reduce inflammation

Those with gout fully understand the pain associated with joint inflammation.

But there have been no human studies supporting vinegar as a way to reduce inflammation.

A study of mice found that apple cider vinegar helped lessen chronic pain and inflammation.

It is suggested that the effects on inflammation could be a result of the B vitamins in apple cider vinegar. 

Even though studies of mice are promising, multiple human studies are still necessary to confirm results.

How Apple Cider Vinegar Can Help Gout

Even if there is no evidence that apple cider vinegar can treat or prevent gout, it may still help indirectly. 

As mentioned with the studies above, there are promising results on the use of apple cider vinegar for the following conditions:  

  • Weight loss 
  • Gut health 
  • Blood sugar control 
  • Lower cholesterol levels 

Maintaining a healthy weight and a low-purine diet can manage and prevent gout flares.

While apple cider vinegar may provide an extra boost you need to get on the right track, it’s still an unproven remedy for gout, and for any of the conditions mentioned above.

Talk to your doctor, and follow their recommendations for gout treatments before relying on unproven treatment methods. 

Risks of Using Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is very acidic. 

If you do not dilute apple cider vinegar, its acid can destroy and damage tissues.

Acetic acid has been known to erode tooth enamel and cause tooth decay and cavities.

You must dilute apple cider vinegar before taking it.

Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into an eight-ounce glass of water.

This will ensure it is properly diluted. 

Also, do not put apple cider vinegar directly on the skin without diluting it.

Otherwise, it could cause a chemical burn. 

Apple cider vinegar has been linked to lowering potassium levels.

If you take any medications that lower potassium levels, like a diuretic (water pill) for high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before taking apple cider vinegar, as it may cause interactions or make your blood pressure medicine less effective.

When to See a Doctor

People who have gout should be in regular contact with their health care provider to discuss treatment and prevention methods.

Gout flares can be painful and damaging to the joints and should be properly treated.

If you start having negative side effects from taking apple cider vinegar, like tooth decay or a chemical burn, see a healthcare provider immediately. 

Since apple cider vinegar has been known to lower potassium levels, speak to your doctor about what medications are safe to take with apple cider vinegar.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use apple cider vinegar with other medications?
Apple cider vinegar can lower potassium levels. If you are taking diuretic medications (water pills), diabetes medication, or digoxin (Lanoxin), you may experience dangerously low potassium and blood sugar levels. Talk to your doctor before adding apple cider vinegar to your diet.
What is the easiest way to flush uric acid out of your system?
Drink lots of water and exercise regularly. This can help flush uric acid out of your system. Avoiding alcohol, sugar, and a high-purine diet can also help rid uric acid from your system.
Does apple cider vinegar affect the amount of uric acid in the body?
Apple cider vinegar does not directly affect the amount of uric acid in the body, but it may help indirectly. There are some small, low-quality studies that support the use of apple cider vinegar for weight loss. Losing weight if you are overweight is recommended as a treatment and prevention method for gout, as weight loss decreases the amount of uric acid buildup and bodily inflammation.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Terez Malka, MD

Dr. Terez Malka is a board-certified pediatrician and emergency medicine physician.

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