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Apple Cider Vinegar For Urinary Tract Infections (UTI): Does It Reduce The Risk Factors?

Apple Cider Vinegar For UTI

ACV fixes your pH imbalance and acts against diabetes and kidney stone formation, thereby reducing your risk of contracting UTI. As long-term catheter use increases bacteria in the urine, ACV, being antibacterial, can be used to clean catheters. The vinegar in ACV inhibits pathogenic E. coli, the UTI-causing bacteria. Drink 1 tbsp ACV mixed in 8 ounces water every day.

With about 8.1 million people visiting health care providers for urinary tract infection (UTI), it remains one of the most common infections in humans.1 This infection of the urinary system, mainly seen in sexually active women, is caused chiefly by the intestinal E. Coli and STD-transmitting microbes like chlamydia and mycoplasma.2

Common symptoms of UTI include difficulty urinating because of a burning or scalding sensation or lower abdominal discomfort when passing urine, frequent urge to pass urine, incomplete emptying of the bladder, foul-smelling, cloudy, bloody, and dark urine, and even fever. 3

What Increases Your Chances Of UTI

The basic cause of UTI is an increase in the amount of bacteria in the urine. This happens when you can’t empty your bladder fully due to some abnormality of the urinary tract. A study conducted on 100 patients (57 males and 43 females) between the age of 1 and 70 years showed that while in 60 percent of the cases, the risk factors could not be assessed, in 15 percent and 10 percent of the patients, stones in the urinary tract and enlarged prostate gland respectively were the reasons.4

Other risk factors include: a tumor in kidney, non-functional kidney, displacement of the uterus, kidney transplant, severe hypothyroidism, and diabetes. Sexual intercourse increases the risk in women, and catheter use increases the risk in both men and women.5

Apple Cider Vinegar For UTI: How Does It Help?

Vinegar has been used for centuries to preserve food, heal wounds, and fight infections, all of which point toward its anti-microbial activity. This is probably why ACV, which is a type of vinegar, has been one of the oldest folk remedies for UTI.

Its Acids Are Antibacterial

Our body tends toward alkaline on the inside and acidic on the outside. UTI is likely to occur when the body is highly acidic or highly alkaline. ACV can help in two ways.

First, natural acids in ACV help restore the body’s pH balance, inhibit further growth of UTI bacteria, and prevent new infections from occurring.

Second, ACV contains acetic acid, malic acid, citric acid, and lactic acid among other acids, which have antibacterial quality, with acetic acid being the most potent.6

Even 0.1 percent of acetic acid in vinegar has shown antibacterial activity against food-borne pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli. It was seen that when combined with glucose and sodium chloride or common salt, acetic acid was even more potent in stopping the growth of the bacteria. Because ACV contains 5 to 6 percent of acetic acid, we can assume that consuming ACV can reduce the risk of UTI.7

Moreover, one lab study on nine bacteria, including E. coli, found that an ACV and garlic combination had significant antibacterial effect.8

And So Are Its Polyphenols

It’s not just the natural acids in ACV that have antibacterial function but also the polyphenols like galic acid, catechin, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid. Polyphenols are antioxidants mostly found in plant sources. Apple polyphenols also have shown anti-inflammatory effect. However, there has not been enough research to show whether these polyphenols have similar effect in case of UTI.9

ACV Reduces Risk Factors Of UTI

Treats Bacteriuria Caused By Long-Term Catheter Use

The higher the amount of bacteria in your urine, the higher your risk of contracting UTI. And one of the major reasons for bacteriuria is long use of catheter. A study was conducted on patients suffering from bacteriuria (high levels of bacteria in urine), which was due to their long-term use of catheter. Their catheter drainage bags were irrigated with acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide, and the urine samples were cultured for two days. The samples from the acetic acid group showed a significant reduction in bacteriuria. This study is helpful as it shows how in cases where catheter use is unavoidable, ACV can be used to clean catheters and decrease the risk of UTI.10 A very dilute solution of acetic acid, of 0.25 percent concentration, is also used to irrigate the human bladder.

Prevents Kidney Stones From Forming

Kidney stones can increase your chances of UTI because they essentially block the flow of urine. ACV has also been used traditionally to prevent kidney stones from forming, probably because its alkalinity can counter the acidic salts that lead to kidney-stone formation.

Helps Control Diabetes

Diabetes is yet another risk factor for UTI. In an animal study, vinegar was given to rats for 10 weeks before feeding them with 250 mg of glucose per 100 grams of body weight. The results showed significant reduction in post-meal blood-glucose level. Consuming ACV before eating meals can slow down the release of glucose into the blood stream, thereby maintaining the glucose level in the body and controlling diabetes, which, in turn, can reduce the risk of UTI.11

How To Use ACV For UTI

To treat UTI naturally, mix one tablespoon of ACV with eight ounces of water. One teaspoon of honey can be added to make it more palatable. Drink this mixture up to three times a day. For better results, drink plenty of water, as this will help flush harmful bacteria out of your system.

While it is commonly believed that ACV can only prevent UTI but not cure it because it is an acidic substance and therefore should not be consumed when one already has the infection, there has been no research to support this theory. This may not even be true because ACV shows alkaline properties rather than acidic properties after it is ingested, and studies have already shown its efficacy as an antibacterial agent. However,as there has been no human study where ACV’s effects on UTI patients could be directly measured, we are yet to find out if it’s as effective a curative.

References   [ + ]

1. Schappert SM, Rechtsteiner EA. Ambulatory medical care utilization estimates for 2006. National health statistics reports; no 8. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2008.
2. Safari, Mahmood, Ashraf Bakhshi, Mahzad Erami, Babak Kheirkhah, Ali Pourbakhsh, and Homayun Pourbabei. “Sequences of Mycoplasma hominis in Patients with Urinary Tract Infection in a Hospital in Kashan, Iran.” Research Journal of Microbiology 10, no. 6 (2015): 260
3. Urinary Tract Infection In Adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and kidney diseases. May 2012.
4. Ramzan, Muhammad, Sattar Bakhsh, Abdus Salam, Gul Majid Khan, and Ghulam Mustafa. “Risk factors in urinary tract infection.” Gomal Journal of Medical Sciences 2, no. 1 (2004)
5. Hooton, Thomas M., Delia Scholes, James P. Hughes, Carol Winter, Pacita L. Roberts, Ann E. Stapleton, Andy Stergachis, and Walter E. Stamm. “A prospective study of risk factors for symptomatic urinary tract infection in young women.” New England Journal of Medicine 335, no. 7 (1996): 468-474.
6. Budak, Nilgün H., Elif Aykin, Atif C. Seydim, Annel K. Greene, and Zeynep B. Guzel‐Seydim. “Functional properties of vinegar.” Journal of food science 79, no. 5 (2014): R757-R764.
7. Entani, Etsuzo, Mito Asai, Shigetomo Tsujihata, Yoshinori Tsukamoto, and Michio Ohta. “Antibacterial action of vinegar against food-borne pathogenic bacteria including Escherichia coli O157: H7.” Journal of Food Protection 61, no. 8 (1998): 953-959.
8. Hindi, Nada KhazalKadhim. “In vitro antibacterial activity of aquatic garlic extract, apple vinegar and apple vinegar-garlic extract combination.” American journal of phytomedicine and Clinical Therapeutics 1, no. 1 (2013): 42-51.
9. J. A. Skyberg, A. Robison, S. Golden, M. F. Rollins, G. Callis, E. Huarte, I. Kochetkova, M. A. Jutila, D. W. Pascual. Apple polyphenols require T cells to ameliorate dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis and dampen proinflammatory cytokine expression. Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 2011; 90 (6): 1043
10. Washington, Eric A. “Instillation of 3% hydrogen peroxide or distilled vinegar in urethral catheter drainage bag to decrease catheter-associated bacteriuria.” Biological research for nursing 3, no. 2 (2001): 78-87.
11. Johnston, Carol S., and Cindy A. Gaas. “Vinegar: medicinal uses and antiglycemic effect.” Medscape General Medicine 8, no. 2 (2006): 61.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.