Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect

Carol S. Johnston, PhD, RD; Cindy A. Gaas, BS

Disclosures
In This Article

Safety of Vinegar

Vinegar's use as a condiment and food ingredient spans thousands of years, and perhaps its use can be labeled safe by default. Yet there are rare reports in the literature regarding adverse reactions to vinegar ingestion. Inflammation of the oropharynx and second-degree caustic injury of the esophagus and cardia were observed in a 39-year-old woman who drank 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar in the belief it would dislodge a piece of crab shell from her throat.[64] (The use of vinegar in these situations is a popular Chinese folk remedy.) Her symptoms resolved spontaneously after several days. Esophageal injury by vinegar is likely very rare but deserves notice. Chronic inflammation of the esophagus is a cancer risk; but, as reported previously,[45] vinegar use was inversely related to risk for cancer of the esophagus.

The unintentional aspiration of vinegar has been associated with laryngospasm and subsequent vasovagal syncope that resolved spontaneously.[65] Hypokalemia was observed in a 28-year-old woman who had reportedly consumed approximately 250 mL apple cider vinegar daily for 6 years.[66] Although speculative, the hypokalemia was attributed to elevated potassium excretion related to the bicarbonate load from acetate metabolism.

These complications attributed to vinegar ingestion are isolated occurrences, but with the increased interest in vinegar as adjunct therapy in diabetes, carefully controlled trials to examine potential adverse effects of regular vinegar ingestion are warranted.

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