Does the Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Drink Work? This is What Doctors Say

Is fermented apple juice as good as they say? Some warn it’s dangerous to drink. Others claim it cured all their diseases and changed their life for the better. It’s frequently used on skin, teeth, and as a detoxing agent — but should it be?

Whether you’re boarding the apple cider vinegar train because your favorite celebrity posted about it on Instagram or you’ve just heard it’s good for you, it may not produce the results you’re expecting — at least, not for the reasons you’ve been told.

What is an apple cider vinegar detox?

Apple cider vinegar in a bottle

Apple cider vinegar in a bottle | iStock.com/YelenaYemchuk

Apple cider vinegar is a mixture of apple cider, yeast, and bacteria. You can buy it in stores or online as a premade drink or in its raw form.

People tend to mix raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with distilled water and a natural sweetener such as honey when preparing it themselves. You should never drink it without diluting in some way — it’s so acidic that it can damage your teeth even when you add water.

It has recently become one of the most popular ways to detox or cleanse the body — though the practice isn’t new. It’s widely believed that the vitamins, minerals, bacteria, and enzymes present in apple cider vinegar can rid the body of toxins.

The studies that have been conducted relating to apple cider vinegar and weight loss or improved health markers involved small groups of people or animals. Conclusions drawn from these studies should not be generalized to entire human populations. You can’t say that apple cider vinegar promotes weight loss because it worked in a few rats.

Researchers haven’t looked into apple cider vinegar as an effective detox method. Most of the information supporting its effectiveness is what we call anecdotal evidence — the “my sister’s best friend’s cousin’s boss tried it and it worked for her” mentality. This type of evidence is not proof.

Detox drinks: Do they really remove toxins from your body?

A detox or cleanse supposedly filters out harmful toxins from the body through fasting, liquids, supplements, and more extreme methods (e.g., enemas). Apple cider vinegar detoxes, for example, use the drink to “reset” the body and fill it with nutrients. Or they claim to, anyway.

Researchers have yet to find evidence that detox diets or cleanses accomplish what they claim to accomplish. This is mainly because your body naturally filters out and removes toxins through excretions like sweat and urine. Your liver, in fact, exists solely to detoxify substances and help get rid of them.

But if detoxes don’t actually detoxify you, then why do so many people swear by them? It’s likely that elimination diets that remove processed foods promote overall feelings of wellness, weight loss, and more. That has nothing to do with your supplement, enema, or apple cider vinegar.

Do apple cider vinegar detoxes work?

Fresh apples

Fresh apples | YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images

The answer to that question depends on your end goal. Some people use apple cider vinegar to “feel better.” Others use it for weight loss.

There is no scientific evidence that proves humans need or can benefit from apple cider vinegar in terms of trying to rid their bodies of toxins. Our bodies don’t need apple cider vinegar to achieve some advanced form of cleanliness. We sweat. We pee. We have livers. Biologically, that’s good enough.

  • Those who report feeling more energized after an apple cider vinegar detox probably feel that way because they are consuming previously missing vitamins/minerals or have eliminated processed foods from their diet.
  • No studies have shown that weight loss is sustainable or realistic due to apple cider vinegar detoxes. Losing weight quickly on a detox is likely due to fluid loss. There is no guarantee that that water weight won’t come springing back.
  • It’s possible to “overdose” on apple cider vinegar. It’s unsafe to assume that drinking or eating more of something “because it’s good for you” will provide more health benefits. Drinking too much apple cider vinegar can bother your stomach and increase your appetite.

All this doesn’t mean apple cider vinegar can’t benefit some people in different ways. Used properly, it can benefit your skin, help control blood sugar, and keep your immune system healthy.

Several tablespoons — at most — per day is more than enough, if you feel you need it. Don’t expect it to perform any miracles, though.