A common phenomenon after a night of excessive alcohol is the presence of a hangover and all the symptoms it is infamous for – such as that of blurry vision, dehydration, an upset digestive system and a headache.
With such unpleasant characteristics, it is no surprise that significant effort and money has gone into finding potential treatments for the symptoms or condition of a hangover, with apple cider vinegar being one among many products touted and advertised as a potential cure for said hangover.
Unfortunately, it appears that apple cider vinegar or – ACV as it is abbreviated to – will impart only minor benefits to individuals experiencing a hangover, if it even provides any benefit at all; making apple cider vinegar a poor treatment for the symptoms of a hangover.
What Causes a Hangover?
A hangover and its subsequent symptoms are primarily caused by the diuresis induced from consuming alcohol in excess amounts – especially to the point of dehydration.
This is the reason why many health organizations advise consuming one glass of water for every standard alcoholic beverage consumed, both to avoid the occurrence of a hangover the next day as well as to aid in moderating the individual’s alcohol consumption.
And while dehydration due to alcohol’s diuretic properties are the main cause behind a hangover, several other more minor factors are also brought into play that can cause some of the acute symptoms the drinker may experience.
These are usually the presence of congeners and other secondary compounds that are produced by the fermentation process, alongside the inflammatory effects of alcohol that are native to most toxic compounds.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar, true to its name, is a food and cleaning product derived from the fermentation of apple juice – of which will result in a distinctly sour flavor and heighted pH level as a consequence of said fermentation process.
It is often used as a main component of dressings and sauces, or consumed as a supplement for purported benefits such as better gut function and reduced inflammation symptoms – though some of these benefits are as of yet unresearched or undocumented.
In terms of acting as a hangover cure, apple cider vinegar does not appear to have any significant research aimed towards its effects in such a capacity.
This is not to say that apple cider vinegar does not possess characteristics or effects that can treat the symptoms of a hangover, simply that it is of yet unknown from a clinical capacity to what degree apple cider vinegar can or cannot help such symptoms.
Are Acetic Acid and Apple Cider Vinegar the Same Thing?
Acetic acid is a compound present in every form of vinegar, including that of apple cider vinegar, but is otherwise not the same as apple cider vinegar itself.
Apple cider vinegar is composed of approximately 4 to 6% concentration acetic acid by unit volume, of which contributes greatly to its acidic properties as well as other sensory characteristics native to all types of vinegar, such as a sour flavor.
While no concrete research or evidence has been found between the use of apple cider vinegar as a treatment to the symptoms of a hangover, a study conducted by the Department of Neurology and Department of Pathology of Thomas Jefferson University has shown proof that the conjugate base of acetic acid may in fact induce or worsen a hangover in mammals.
Can Apple Cider Vinegar Make Hangovers Worse?
Generally, a common symptom experienced by many hangover sufferers is that of an upset stomach – an effect both due to the acidic nature of alcohol as well as because of its various other homeostasis upsetting characteristics that make retaining a healthy digestive system difficult.
With a pH of anywhere between 2-3, apple cider vinegar is firmly in the acidic section of the pH scale, making its addition to an already upset stomach unpleasant and possibly dangerous in concerns to individuals at risk of ulcers and other internal epithelial lining conditions.
This may be avoided through the use of an additional diluent fluid that can make the apple cider vinegar less harsh on the lining of the stomach and intestines – however, this raises the question of whether consuming apple cider vinegar for a hangover is even the correct decision.
Can Apple Cider Vinegar be Mixed with Other Hangover Cures?
Another commonly rumored hangover cure involving the use of apple cider vinegar is its combination with honey, electrolyte sports drinks or other food products with supposed hangover symptom treating properties.
While the particular effects of such hangover symptom treatments may or may not be effective, the addition of apple cider vinegar is unlikely to influence it in any clinically significant way – at the least, such is the current conclusion from a lack of relevant data towards the subject.
Consequently, the addition or mixing of apple cider vinegar with other hangover cures isn’t advisable, and may even cause more harm than good, depending on the properties and characteristics of the other hangover treatment product.
Summarily, Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help Hangovers?
The exact answer to whether apple cider vinegar can cure or help treat the symptoms of a hangover are somewhat unclear, with most evidence leaning towards it being rather unlikely with a small chance that apple cider vinegar may even worsen certain symptoms and consequences of a hangover.
At the time of this article being written, very little to no official clinical research has been put into motion towards the properties of apple cider vinegar pertaining to the subject of a hangover and its subsequent treatment.
This is not to say that, in the future, a direct link will not be found between the two subjects – only that, as of now, there are better choices of an individual wishing to treat their hangover with food products available in their kitchen.
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2. Penning R, van Nuland M, Fliervoet LA, Olivier B, Verster JC. The pathology of alcohol hangover. Curr Drug Abuse Rev. 2010 Jun;3(2):68-75. doi: 10.2174/1874473711003020068. PMID: 20712596.
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