Can Apple Cider Vinegar Relieve Constipation?

Chris Rock once joked about breaking his leg and having his father pour Robitussin on it, exaggerating his family's inclination to use the cough medicine as a cure-all for any and every ailment that befell him as a child. The internet seems to be having a similar moment with apple cider vinegar (ACV) — the ingredient in your pantry that's being used for everything from the treatment of yeast infections to weight loss and hair care.

While ACV has been experiencing a real come-up in recent years, its medicinal properties have been recognized for centuries. Hippocrates — the father of medicine — was prescribing a mixture of ACV and honey to any ancient Greek who wandered in with a cough (per Foundation Chiropractic). As it turns out, he should have also been giving ACV to his friends with constipation, too.

While constipation is a common ailment that affects many people at one time or another, for nearly 4 million uncomfortable Americans, it's a frequent occurrence (per Johns Hopkins Medicine). We know that when you're backed up, relief can't come fast enough. But before you pop a laxative or give yourself an enema, you might consider sipping on some apple cider vinegar. Here's why.

How ACV can help

Research has yet to determine whether apple cider vinegar is an effective remedy for constipation, and thus no official recommendation has been made for its use in treating the condition (per Healthline). However, proponents of using ACV for constipation claim that sipping a small amount of it can offer some relief.

There may be a few reasons ACV helps to promote bowel movements in some people. For one, ACV is chock full of pectin — a water-soluble fiber (per Medical News Today). Because constipation often occurs as a result of a low-fiber diet, a boost in fiber is generally recommended to get things moving. The Colon Care Clinic points out that the acidity in vinegar might also have a stimulating effect on the colon, making ACV act as a natural laxative. Another reason people look to ACV for constipation relief is that it contains small amounts of the mineral magnesium. Magnesium helps to alleviate constipation by drawing water into the intestines — saturating waste products so that they become easier for our bodies to get rid of (per Michigan Medicine).

Because ACV has not been recommended for medicinal use, it's necessary that you check with your doctor before integrating it into your routine. Interactions between ACV and medications like digoxin, insulin, diuretics, and other drugs used to treat diabetes have been documented (via Healthline).