“Clears up eczema!”
“Teaches your kids to read!”
“Ends world hunger!”
These days, it seems like everyone is touting the benefits of apple cider vinegar from the mundane (“prevents colds!”) to the ridiculous (“clears up cellulite!”).
Similarly, people are making claims about the vinegar effects on tinnitus. Some tinnitus patients have reported that their symptoms have lessened or gone away, and they credit apple cider vinegar (or ACV as it is popularly called) as the remedy that finally did the trick.
But what does the science say? What has actually been proven to be true about the health benefits of ACV, and could any of those benefits contribute to lessening tinnitus symptoms?
Let’s take a closer look.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is when you hear noise that doesn’t have an external source. Patients usually experience tinnitus as a persistent, high-pitched ringing sound in the ears, but it can also be a buzzing, humming, roaring, shrieking or the sound of your own heartbeat. Tinnitus symptoms can be low-pitched or high-pitched, the volume can vary, and patients can experience it in one or both ears. Tinnitus is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom of something else going on in your body like damage to the inner ears due to exposure to loud noises, stress, side effects from medications and high blood pressure. Because there are so many potential causes, it is difficult to develop effective tinnitus treatment options. In fact, no real cure to treat tinnitus exists. But it is possible to manage tinnitus symptoms using a variety of natural remedies. Some people find that adopting a healthy lifestyle with an improved diet, less stress and more exercise does the trick. Others find alternative remedies to be most effective. One popular alternative treatment is ACV.
What Does The Science Say About ACV and Tinnitus?
You would think that with as popular a remedy as ACV is for everything from infections to stomach ailments there would be a lot of research into its properties, and what it can and can’t do. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. A lot of the ACV cures purported on the internet are probably just woo. However, ACV does have some proven health benefits that could link to a lessening of tinnitus symptoms. These include:
- ACV has antimicrobial effects. Apple cider vinegar has been used to fight infections, ulcers and sores since the time of the ancient Greeks. In fact, there are plenty of studies documenting vinegar’s antimicrobial effects with some scientists showing increased interest in studying ACV as fears of antibiotic resistance grow. But just because ACV can fight bacteria in a petri dish doesn’t mean you should use the store-bought variety in your body. ACV is highly acidic, and pouring it into your ears for an ear infection could burn the sensitive inner workings of your ear canal. Also, the likelihood that ACV maintains any bacteria-fighting effects after it has been through your digestive system is very low, so swallowing it with the hopes that it will fight infection is also out. Tinnitus verdict: while an underlying infection has been known to be a cause, ACV’s antimicrobial properties do not seem to hold water as a plausible reason why some people who use it see a reduction in their specific symptoms of tinnitus.
- ACV may help lower cholesterol. In 2016, the BBC did a story on the health benefits of ACV and ran some of their own tests as research. The recruited 30 healthy volunteers and divided them into three groups. The first group drank two tablespoons of ACV diluted in 200ml of water twice a day, every day, before a meal. The second group did the same with malt vinegar. The final group was given a placebo. After two months, neither the placebo nor the malt vinegar groups saw any change. But those who drank ACV saw an average 13% reduction in total cholesterol with a large reduction in triglycerides. This finding was particularly impressive because the volunteers were all healthy at the start of the study, with all testing in the normal range for cholesterol levels. Tinnitus verdict: as high cholesterol levels have been shown to be tied with ear ringing due to tinnitus, it is possible that ACV’s cholesterol-lowering properties help to alleviate tinnitus symptoms. However, many tinnitus sufferers who see success with ACV report relatively fast relief, and in the study the patients saw a drop in cholesterol after a two month period, so further studies would be needed to prove this effect.
- ACV can lower blood sugar. For the same story described above, the BBC also studied ACV’s immediate effects on blood sugar—specifically looking at the claim that drinking a couple of tablespoons of ACV diluted in water before a meal, will help control blood sugar levels. They recruited healthy volunteers and had them eat two bagels after having fasted overnight. They measured their blood sugar levels before and after eating. As expected, the bagel consumption was followed by a large and rapid rise in the subjects’ blood sugar levels. The next day, the volunteers were asked to eat another two bagels, but this time they drank diluted ACV just before doing so. They repeated the test a few days later using diluted malt vinegar before eating the bagels. The results showed that the ACV (not the malt vinegar) had a big impact, reducing the amount of sugar in the volunteers’ blood by 36% over 90 minutes. This same effect has been replicated in other more controlled studies. Researchers believe the effect could be because the acetic acid in the ACV suppresses the breakdown of starches, meaning that if you consume ACV before a carbohydrate-heavy meal, less sugar gets absorbed into your body. Tinnitus verdict: in studies, high blood sugar has been connected with tinnitus. Because some patients saw rapid results with the ACV, it is possible that ACV may have acted to prevent blood sugar spikes and lessened symptoms in patients whose tinnitus was connected to blood sugar issues.