How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Urinary Tract Infections?

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Urinary Tract Infections?
January 31, 2017 5:10 PM

Urinary tract infections affect millions of people around the world. UTIs should always be treated by a duly qualified physician and with the help of medical treatment but in addition to medical drugs and with prior consent of your physician, you may also use some natural remedies, such as apple cider vinegar. In this post, we shall take a detailed look on how to use apple cider vinegar in the treatment of urinary tract infections.

Contents

  1. What is a urinary tract infection?
  2. Causes of urinary tract infections
  3. Statistics regarding urinary tract infections
  4. How may apple cider vinegar help in prevention of urinary tract infections?
    1. It fights against infection causing organisms
    2. It blocks inflammation
    3. It reduces oxidative stress
    4. It promotes growth of good bacteria
    5. Additional benefits of apple cider vinegar
  5. Different ways to use apple cider vinegar in prevention of UTIs
    1. Add apple cider vinegar to your salad
    2. Make an apple cider vinegar cocktail
    3. Apple cider vinegar and water drink
    4. Have an apple cider vinegar bath
    5. Baking soda and apple cider vinegar remedy
    6. Apple cider vinegar and honey
    7. Apple cider vinegar tea
    8. Sprinkle apple cider vinegar over your food
    9. Apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil
  6. Risks and side effects associated with apple cider vinegar use in treatment of urinary tract infections
    1. Digestive side effects
    2. Irritation
    3. Low potassium levels
  7. The bottom line

What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection is an infection which involves the ureter, bladder, kidney and/or urethra. The urine passes through these structures before being eliminated from the body. However, before going into further details of urinary tract infection, let us find out a bit more about the urinary tract.

The kidneys are the organs present on the sides of the spine above the waist level. They perform a number of functions in the body including the removal of waste materials from the body. This makes them quite effective in regulating blood pressure levels. Kidneys are also sensitive to blood sugar changes in the body and blood pressure and electrolyte levels. Diabetes and hypertension both can cause damage to this organ.

Two ureters, which are about 10 inches long, drain the urine into the bladder. The bladder controls collect and stores the urine. When the urine reaches a certain level in the body, we feel the need to expel it from the body. The urethra is also present which connects the bladder to the outside of the body. Any part of the system can become seriously infected. The general rule is that if the urinary tract is located further up in the urinary tract, it is quite serious.

Here is how the urinary tract works. The urine travels from the kidneys to two narrow tubes known as ureters. After that, the urine travels through the bladder and empties through the urethra. When the bladder is emptied, a muscle called sphincter relaxes and urine flows out through the urethra. The opening or the endpoints of the urethra is a penis in males and vagina in females.

Causes of urinary tract infections

Most urinary tract infections are caused by the bacteria in the bowel. The major urinary tract infections are caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli. The major microbes, known as Mycoplasma and Chlamydia affect the urethra and reproductive system but not the bladder. Chlamydia and Mycoplasma can be sexually transmitted and require some serious treatment of sexual partners.

There are several systems in the urinary tract to prevent the infection. The points at which the ureters connect to the bladder to act as a one-way valve to prevent the urine from backing up from the kidneys. In men, the secretions of prostate glands slow the bacteria growth. The immune system defenses also prevent infections. But still, infections do occur. Certain bacteria have the ability to attach themselves to the urinary tract lining.

Statistics regarding urinary tract infections

The following statistics show the prevalence of urinary tract infections (1, 2, 3, 4):

  • About 1 in every 5 women will develop urinary tract infection during their lifetime in America.
  • About 34% of the adults have reported at least one recurrence of urinary tract infections.
  • About 13.9% of men aged between 20 and 75 have self-reported urinary tract infections.
  • Around 53.5% adults aged between 20 and 75 who have reported urinary tract infections were women.

How may apple cider vinegar help in prevention of urinary tract infections?

Intake of apple cider vinegar can be quite beneficial for your body in maintaining a bit of acidic environment. This avoids the growth of UTI-causing bacteria, according to Dr. Earl Mindell, a registered pharmacist, and author of “Dr. Earl Mindell’s Amazing Apple Cider Vinegar”.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar in a bottle

But once the infection starts, it is probably best to avoid apple cider vinegar.

Once inside your urinary tract, the bacteria attaches to the lining of the bladder, which leaves the tissues inflamed. Vinegar is an acidic liquid and increases the acidity of the urine. There are also some studies which claim that ingestion of apple cider vinegar is associated with greater risks for bladder cancer (5).

When more acidic urine passes, the inflamed tissue might exacerbate, which results in severe burning sensation.

Although you should avoid using apple cider vinegar in treatment of urinary tract infection without prior consent of your doctor.

It may be an option for UTI prevention if used properly.

You should consult your healthcare physician if you plan to use home remedies, like cranberry juice and apple cider vinegar for preventing and/or management of urinary tract infections.

Other than this, there is also some other strategies to follow for prevention of urinary tract infections.

These include proper hydration (8 glasses of water per day), wiping your genitals from front to back (to avoid "contamination" of your genitals by harmful bacteria from your gut), etc.

Here are some possible positive effects of apple cider vinegar on urinary tract:

It fights against infection causing organisms

Apple cider vinegar has vinegar in it, which means it has a high content of acetic acid too. Acetic acid, though not a very strong acid, is still quite effective in reducing the growth of infection causing bacteria. In one research, scientists studied the anti-bacterial effects of acetic acid in controlling the growth of E. coli, which is one of the most common bacteria causing UTI. The results of the research showed that acetic acid was able to reduce the growth of E. coli by 50% (6).

Acetic acid exerts its anti-bacterial effects due to two main reasons. First, it is able to block the synthesis of essential nutrients in bacteria. For instance, in E. coli, acetic acid is able to block the synthesis of methionine. Second, acetic acid creates an acid environment in the body, which then reduces the growth of disease promoting bacteria.

It blocks inflammation

The symptoms of an infection are exaggerated by the inflammation caused by causative organisms. The way most of the drugs work is by reducing the production of inflammation causing compounds in the body.

Apple cider vinegar is quite rich in a number of anti-inflammatory compounds, one of them is chlorogenic acid.

The results of research show that clorogenic acid is able to reduce the production of inflammation causing substances like inflammatory cytokines, interleukins, and cyclooxygenases (7).

It reduces oxidative stress

Another way apple cider vinegar is able to help with UTIs is by reducing the amount of oxidative stress in the body. An increased amount of oxidative stress results of infections that weakens the immune system and exaggerates the infections.

Results of research show that the constituents of apple cider vinegar, especially the chlorogenic acid, work as potent anti-oxidants that help reduce the amount of oxidative stress in the body (13).

It promotes growth of good bacteria

UTIs result from the overgrowth of bad bacteria. This is one of those infections that sprout when the growth of bad bacteria is more than that of the good or probiotic bacteria.

The use of apple cider vinegar, however, improves the growth of good bacteria.

Apple cider vinegar is rich in pectin, which is a plant-based fiber and can be found in apples.

Pectin promotes growth of good bacteria, being a prebiotic (e.g. food for good bacteria) (9).

Additional benefits of apple cider vinegar

Since the use of apple cider vinegar is a holistic way of healing, it does a lot of benefit than just helping you to prevent UTI.

For instance it can also be used to treat bad breath or as follows:

Digestive aid

If you are having troubles with your digestive system lately, then apple cider vinegar might just be the right remedy for you. You can sip diluted apple cider vinegar to settle the stomach issues. This is also quite beneficial for the health of the urinary tract because it is also a part of the digestive system. The stomach is healed due to the antibiotic and antiseptic properties of apple cider vinegar. Mainly, the acetic acid present in apple cider vinegar helps in the absorption of food (10).

Weight loss

Consuming apple cider vinegar can help a person feel fuller and so he eats less. A recent study has shown that the acetic acid, present in ACV slows down the fat accumulation (11).

When a person loses weight, it leads to good digestion, which ultimately leads to better urinary tract functioning. You can sip apple cider vinegar on its own. However, if the flavor is too strong for you, add apple cider vinegar to juices and salad dressings. You can also add it to your diet by adding it in the foods you eat.

Reduces bloating

Apple cider vinegar increases the acidity in the stomach, which allows the easy digestion of the food that you have eaten and moves it into the stomach through the small intestines. This makes the whole digestion process quite easy.

Different experts, like the founder of Kellman Center for Integrative and Functional Medicine, Raphael Kellman, support this opinion.

Slow digestion can cause acid reflux, so a burning sensation that occurs in your stomach with the consumption of acetic acid, allows the food to be absorbed quite easily. It also gives you a feeling of fullness and keeps you satisfied for long durations of time.

It cleans the food

Another major benefit of consuming apple cider vinegar is that it cleans the different foods you eat, like different fruits and vegetables you consume daily. This is helpful for the urinary tract, as most of the infections are caused by unclean and unhygienic foods.

Diluted vinegar is best for cleaning food. Research has shown that its antibacterial properties can work against the bacteria, like Salmonella (12).

The best way to clean the foods is to add diluted vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on your food before eating or to add it to your salad. 

Boosts the overall energy

Another major benefit of consuming apple cider vinegar is that it boosts the overall energy of your body. This can also be related as a positive effect on urinary tract infection because when a person feels high energy or a good energy level, the disease-causing organisms in the body are killed because the white blood cells become quite effective against pathogens. This can be quite beneficial for the urinary tract as most of the pathogens are killed beforehand and the risk of infections become minute.

So you should definitely consume apple cider vinegar for good health. The potassium and other enzymes present in ACV will give you the push you need. You can also just add apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. You can drink this water after or before strenuous activities, like a strenuous workout. The amino acids present in apple cider vinegar work against the accumulation of lactic acid, which happens after exercise.

Different ways to use apple cider vinegar in prevention of UTIs

Apple cider vinegar may have some benefits in prevention of urinary tract infections. However you must not use it in treatment of urinary tract infections as this is a serious medical issue, which needs to be addressed and cured by a duly licensed physician.

So use the remedies below in prevention of urinary tract infections and as a post-treatment option (with prior consent of your doctor) but never attempt to use apple cider vinegar as the cure for UTIs and do not use it with medication prescribed by your doctor for treatment of these issues. Apple cider vinegar may have some serious interactions with pharmaceuticals used for treatment of various conditions, including UTI, so do not take it without prior consent of your doctor.

Here are some ways you may add apple cider vinegar into your diet and/or use it in prevention of urinary tract infections:

Add apple cider vinegar to your salad

Make an apple cider vinegar dressing for your salad. Here is a recipe by Jenessa M. from Swansonvitamins (13).

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) of apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup (177 ml) of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • Different salad toppings can be used, like spinach, walnuts, apples, raisins and cheese of your choice.

How to make it?

Making the dish is quite simple. Just add all ingredients (excepts salad toppings) in a blender or a bowl and stir well. Pour the dressing on your salad.

How to use this remedy?

Use apple cider vinegar dressing on your salads daily or several times a week.

Make an apple cider vinegar cocktail

Another way how to use apple cider vinegar in UTI prevention is to make a cocktail.

This drink is made with ginger, water, apple cider vinegar, and switchels (14).

It is a perfect cocktail with a vast history, dating back to the 19th century.

Three amazing uses of apple cider vinegar in treatment of urinary tract infections

Three amazing uses of apple cider vinegar in treatment of urinary tract infections

However, the recipe has been spun a bit to meet the demands of the 21st century.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) of unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of finely grated ginger powder
  • 1/3 cup (79 ml) of sorghum syrup
  • 24 ounces (709 ml) of rye whiskey

How to make it?

Mix the ingredients above together in a large container and add 500 ml of water. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for 4 hours to 1 day.

Strain the mixture and pour it into a bottle.

Close the bottle with a cork or lid.

Leave the mixture in the fridge for at least one week.

How to use the remedy?

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour about 45 ml of the mixture into the shaker. Shake it well and strain into a clean glass and serve. Consume one or two glasses per week. 

Apple cider vinegar and water drink

This is one of the simplest ways to use the powers of apple cider vinegar in dealing with urinary tract infections.

The method is quite simple. Just follow the instructions below.

Ingredients

  • 1 glass of water
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

How to make it?

It is very easy to make this remedy:

Add apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and stir well.

How to use this remedy?

Drink this solution every day for about two weeks, preferably in the morning as prevention for UTIs.

Have an apple cider vinegar bath

Adding some apple cider vinegar to your bath maybe another good method to prevent urinary tract infection.

How to use this remedy?

It is actually quite easy. Just follow these steps:

  • Add 1 cup (236 ml) of apple cider vinegar into your evening bath.
  • Mix the water and vinegar with your hands.
  • Soak in the bath for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Repeat this procedure at least 3 times a week.

Do not forget to rinse your body with cold (lukewarm) water after your bath.

Baking soda and apple cider vinegar remedy

Baking soda is alkaline, which means that it can counter the acidity of your stomach and relieve the pain which accompanies urination.

So, if you have a urinary tract infection, you can always turn to baking soda for help.

Ingredients

  • One teaspoon of baking soda
  • One teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • One cup (236 ml) of water

How to make it?

  • Add one teaspoon of baking soda and apple cider vinegar to a cup of water.
  • Stir well.
  • Do not add too much of baking soda in the mixture.

How to use this remedy?

Prepare this remedy every day and drink the mixture once a day for a week. Do not drink this baking soda and apple cider vinegar mixture for too long as baking soda contains a lot of sodium and there is a risk of hypernatremia (too much sodium in your blood), which is harmful for your heart (e.g. there is a risk of blood pressure increase if you take too much sodium).

Apple cider vinegar and honey

This is another method how you may use apple cider vinegar in management of urinary tract infections.

Here are the instructions.

Ingredients

  • One teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • Three teaspoons of honey
  • One teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • A glass of warm water

How to make it?

  • Add apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper and honey in the glass of warm water.
  • Stir well until the ingredients are dissolved properly. 


How to use this remedy?

Drink this mixture once a day for a week to benefit from antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar, which may help you ease the pain from the infection.

Apple cider vinegar tea

Another way to use apple cider vinegar as a "remedy" for UTIs is to make some tea.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice as an appetizer
  • 1 natural green tea bag

How to make it?

Make your green tea the usual way (e.g. pour some hot water into a cup and insert a green tea bag). Let the tea macerate for 2 - 3 minutes. Add lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and stir well.

How to use the remedy?

Sip this tea once or twice a day.

Sprinkle apple cider vinegar over your food

Apple cider vinegar may also be used as "an additive" in the food you eat. It contains some enzymes and probiotics that may help in food absorption.

Ingredients:

  • Any kind of food (vegetables, fruits, meat, etc.)
  • Apple cider vinegar (diluted in water - 1 part of apple cider vinegar in 4 parts of water)
  • A spray bottle

How to make it?

  • Grab a spray bottle and pour the apple cider vinegar in it.
  • Prepare your food.
  • Use the spray bottle to spray some apple cider vinegar over your food.

How to use this remedy?

Use this "remedy" one time a day with your favorite food.

Apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has various uses and - in combination with apple cider vinegar - it may be used in prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections.

Here is how to make a natural "disinfectant" for your urinary tract.

Ingredients:

  • 5 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 basin of lukewarm water
  • 1 cup (236 ml) of apple cider vinegar

How to make it?

  • Add tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar to the basin of lukewarm water.
  • Stir well.
  • Wash your genitals with this solution using a clean cotton pad.

How to use this remedy?

Use this remedy two times a day for one or two weeks.

Risks and side effects associated with apple cider vinegar use in treatment of urinary tract infections

Apple cider vinegar must not be used as the first line treatment of urinary tract infections.

If you suffer from such infections you should always seek a proper medical attention and consult your physician.

Once your doctor gives you a prescription for UTI fighting medication (usually antibiotics, pain relievers, etc.) ask him whether you may use apple cider vinegar as an additional natural cure for your infection.

If your doctor gives you his or her consent use just one or two remedies from the list above to help you.

Never use apple cider vinegar remedies (or any other natural remedies) for treatment of urinary tract infections without prior consent of your doctor.

Also, never exceed a safe daily consumption limit of apple cider vinegar, which is two table spoons (e.g. 30 ml). Do not take more than this! This may cause serious damage to your health!

Here is a list of major risks and adverse effects associated with apple cider vinegar:

Digestive side effects

Apple cider vinegar can have unpleasant effects in some people, such as indigestion.

There are many human and animal studies which support that the consumption of apple cider vinegar and acetic acid can lead to a reduction in diet and promote a feeling of fullness (17).

This can lead to abnormally low caloric intake in severe cases. 

Irritation

Katherine Zeratsky, a popular nutritionist, says that consuming too much apple cider vinegar may cause irritation, due to acetic acid content. Therefore you should never use more than 30 ml of apple cider vinegar per day and you should always dilute apple cider vinegar before use (1 part of apple cider vinegar in 4 - 5 parts of water).

Low potassium levels

People with urinary tract infections and those on an insulin diet should be quite careful about the intake of apple cider vinegar because it can adversely interact with the medications and lead to abnormally low potassium levels.

Low potassium levels can lead to a number of side effects, like a pain in the gut, muscle cramps, weakness and even abnormal heartbeats.

A study was recently done in which a 28 years old woman was given apple cider vinegar for six years.

This experiment proved to be a disaster because the woman was admitted to the hospital with abnormally low potassium levels (18).

The crux is that the body requires potassium to work properly.

The bottom line

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are frequent health issues affecting millions of people worldwide.

You should always see your doctor and get a prescription for proper medication if you suffer from UTIs.

Apple cider vinegar may be useful in prevention of UTIs and may only be used in treatment of these disorders with prior consent of your doctor.

Therefore you must always ask your doctor for permission if you want to use any of the apple cider vinegar urinary tract infection remedies described in this article.

If your doctor agrees, select one or two remedies described above and try them out to see whether you get some relief or not.

If you suffer from any adverse reactions described above or if you do not feel well, consult your physician immediately.

Share this article
Tags:
Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Article resources:

See numbered references in the article.

Image resources:

Adobe Stock

Published: January 31, 2017 5:10 PM
Last updated: January 31, 2017 6:35 PM
Next scheduled update: January 31, 2019 6:35 PM
Our site uses cookies to provide services, personalize ads and analyze traffic. By using this site you agree. More info