Apple cider vinegar is a popular natural remedy used for a variety of health benefits. Some proponents claim that apple cider vinegar can help relieve constipation and make you poop. But what does the science say?
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple juice. The fermentation process turns the sugar in apples into acetic acid, which is the main active compound in vinegars. Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains strands of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria that give it a murky appearance.
Some people claim that the acetic acid and other compounds in apple cider vinegar can stimulate digestive juices, speed up bowel movements, and make you poop. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims.
This article examines the evidence on whether apple cider vinegar can make you poop.
How Apple Cider Vinegar May Help With Constipation
Constipation is characterized by infrequent, difficult, and painful bowel movements. It’s a common problem affecting an estimated 14% of adults globally.
Several factors can cause constipation, including:
- Inadequate fiber intake
- Lack of exercise
- Certain medications
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Apple cider vinegar may help get things moving in several ways:
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may promote bowel movements by:
– Increasing gastric motility. This speeds up the transit of food and stool through your digestive tract (1).
– Improving gut microbiota. Acetic acid may inhibit harmful bacteria and support beneficial bacteria in your gut that aid digestion (2).
– Stimulating bile production. Bile acts like a natural laxative to help soften stool and improve bowel movements (3).
Apples naturally contain pectin fiber. Some pectin remains after apples are fermented into apple cider vinegar.
Pectin is a soluble fiber that soaks up water and turns into a gel-like substance in your gut. This helps add bulk and moisture to stool to ease its passage (4, 5).
Other theoretical mechanisms
Some other ways apple cider vinegar may combat constipation include:
– Lowering pH levels. Apple cider vinegar increases the acidity in your stomach and may improve the function of digestive enzymes (6).
– Providing potassium. Getting sufficient potassium helps maintain electrolyte balance and nerve function in your gastrointestinal tract. Apple cider vinegar contains small amounts of potassium (7).
However, most of these potential mechanisms lack direct research in humans. More studies are needed on apple cider vinegar and constipation.
Apple Cider Vinegar Dosage for Constipation
There is no universally agreed upon dosage for using apple cider vinegar to treat constipation.
Most recommendations are based on anecdotal evidence and advise taking 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 mL) diluted in water, or mixed with juice daily. It’s best to start with a smaller dose like 1 teaspoon (5 mL) first to assess your tolerance.
Do not take undiluted shots of apple cider vinegar. The acetic acid can damage tooth enamel and your esophagus.
Always dilute apple cider vinegar in water or another liquid. You can also mix it with herbs, spices, honey, or lemon to make the taste more palatable.
If you don’t experience bowel movements within 12–24 hours, you can increase your dosage incrementally to 2 tablespoons (30 mL) per day at most.
See your healthcare provider if your constipation lasts longer than 3 days to rule out other causes. Long-term overuse of laxatives like apple cider vinegar can worsen constipation over time.
Other Home Remedies for Constipation
Apple cider vinegar is just one natural remedy for constipation. Other home treatments that may help you poop include:
Drink More Fluids
Staying hydrated softens your stool and supports regularity. Aim for 8–10 glasses of liquids daily, and avoid dehydrating beverages like coffee and alcohol (8).
Eat More Fiber
Fiber supplements like psyllium husks add bulk to stool. Gradually increase your fiber intake from foods like fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, and whole grains to 25–35 grams daily (9).
Physical activity like brisk walking stimulates contractions in your intestines to help move stool through your colon (10).
Stress may trigger constipation by interfering with digestive muscle contractions. Try relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, abdominal massage, warm baths, etc.
Use a Squat Stool
Elevating your feet by 7–10 inches as you sit on the toilet changes the angle and straightens your rectum to allow for easier bowel movements. Squat stools and step stools can help mimic a natural squatting position.
Apple Cider Vinegar Enema for Constipation
Some alternative medicine fans use an apple cider vinegar enema to relieve severe constipation.
This involves injecting a small amount of diluted apple cider vinegar into the rectum and colon to induce a bowel movement.
However, there is no scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar enemas provide any significant constipation relief. Plus, they come with safety concerns if used improperly.
Apple cider vinegar enemas may irritate and damage the sensitive tissue in the rectum. Overuse could also lead to electrolyte imbalances from frequent colon evacuations.
Most doctors advise avoiding enemas for chronic constipation. Try other safer remedies first, and limit enemas for occasional use only when medically advised.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Make You Poop Right Away?
Apple cider vinegar is unlikely to make you poop immediately after ingesting it.
It can take 6–8 hours or longer to work, since oral vinegar must travel through your digestive system first. The acetic acid and enzymes in apple cider vinegar take time to stimulate gastric juices before you feel the laxative effects.
Be patient, stick to the recommended dosage, and give it 12–24 hours. Increase your intake gradually if needed for more immediate bowel movements.
See a doctor if apple cider vinegar worsens your constipation or causes cramps, nausea, bloating or other signs of digestive distress.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Laxatives for Constipation
Can you take apple cider vinegar with other laxatives like magnesium citrate, MiraLax, senna, etc.?
There are no known negative interactions between apple cider vinegar and over-the-counter constipation aids. However, combining multiple laxatives simultaneously may cause adverse effects.
It’s generally best not to stack too many different constipation remedies together. Try one method at a time and be cautious with dosages to see what works for your body.
Consult your healthcare provider before using apple cider vinegar alongside prescription constipation medications like lubiprostone, linaclotide, plecanatide, etc. The safety of combining them has not been established.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Clean You Out?
The concept that apple cider vinegar provides a complete “clean out” or detox is largely exaggerated. There is minimal research showing apple cider vinegar significantly cleanses your colon.
Apple cider vinegar may stimulate a bowel movement by pulling water into your colon to soften and add bulk to stool. But it does not truly rid your body of toxins or old fecal matter.
Furthermore, regular bowel cleansing or colonics are not recommended. Your body is designed to excrete waste naturally every day. Aggressive colon cleansing can disrupt your gut microbiome and electrolyte balance.
Occasional use of a gentle stool softener like apple cider vinegar for constipation relief is likely safe. But avoid overusing it or any laxative in efforts to cleanse your colon.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar a Laxative?
Apple cider vinegar is sometimes referred to as a natural laxative for its potential to stimulate bowel movements. However, it is not a true laxative.
Laxatives are classified into different categories based on how they work:
Add bulk and moisture to stool to ease evacuation. Examples: psyllium husks, methylcellulose.
Soften and lubricate stool for easier passage. Examples: docusate sodium, docusate calcium.
Pull water into the colon from nearby tissues. Examples: magnesium citrate, milk of magnesia, polyethylene glycol.
Stimulate contractions of the intestinal muscles. Examples: senna, bisacodyl, castor oil.
While apple cider vinegar may have a mild laxative effect for some people, it does not fall neatly into any standard laxative category.
It likely acts more as a stool softener, with some potential stimulant effects from its acetic acid content. However, much more research is needed to understand how apple cider vinegar affects bowel function.
Is It Safe to Take Apple Cider Vinegar Daily?
Can you take apple cider vinegar every day? There is no evidence that occasional use of small amounts of apple cider vinegar is unsafe for most people.
However, more research is still needed on the long-term safety of daily apple cider vinegar consumption.
Potential minor side effects of apple cider vinegar include:
– Tooth enamel erosion from the acidity
– Throat irritation
– Decreased blood sugar levels
– Low potassium levels
Diluting apple cider vinegar in water and rinsing your mouth after taking it may reduce dental risks.
Start with a low dose like 1 teaspoon (5mL) diluted in water or juice once or twice a day. Only increase the dosage and frequency if you don’t experience any worrisome side effects.
Those with diabetes, hypokalemia, reflux, ulcers, or other gastrointestinal issues should exercise particular caution with long-term use due to risks of further complications.
See your healthcare provider before taking apple cider vinegar supplements long-term. More research is needed to confirm safe dosages for daily consumption.
Should You Drink Apple Cider Vinegar Before Bed?
Some alternative medicine practitioners recommend drinking apple cider vinegar before bedtime to maximize its constipation relief effects overnight.
However, there are several downsides to this practice:
– Acid reflux risk. Lying flat makes it easier for acidic vinegar to backflow into your esophagus and cause heartburn (11).
– Tooth enamel damage. Apple cider vinegar sits on your teeth overnight without saliva flow to neutralize acidity (12).
– Throat irritation. Extended contact time in your throat as you sleep may provoke coughing or throat discomfort.
– Medication interactions. Acetic acid may reduce absorption of some medications like diuretics or diabetes drugs if taken together (13).
If you choose to try apple cider vinegar before bed, use a very diluted dosage of 1 teaspoon (5 mL) mixed into a full glass of water. Avoid taking any other medications or supplements within a couple hours of the vinegar.
Stay upright for at least 30 minutes after ingesting it to keep the acetic acid restricted to your stomach. Brush and rinse your teeth well before bedtime.
Apple Cider Vinegar Pills vs. Liquid for Constipation
Apple cider vinegar pills and capsules are available if you wish to avoid the unpleasant taste and risks of liquid vinegar. But are ACV pills as effective?
Unfortunately, there is little research comparing apple cider vinegar pills and liquid for constipation. A few key points:
- ACV pills may contain only a small amount of acetic acid, the main active ingredient.
- Solid forms lack the macromolecules and “mother” enzymes provided in raw, unpasteurized liquid ACV.
- Tablets likely take longer to break down and may not deliver effects as quickly.
- The alkaline pH of pills may neutralize the acidity of vinegar before it reaches your stomach.
For these reasons, liquid apple cider vinegar dissolved in water may be the best form to maximize laxative benefits.
Start with low doses of liquid vinegar like 1-2 teaspoons (5–10 mL) daily diluted in water or juice. If tolerated without side effects, you can try gradual dosage increases or add a smaller dose of pills.
Always look for unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with the “mother” containing probiotics and active enzymes. Pasteurized and filtered vinegars lack these beneficial compounds.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Baking Soda for Constipation
Adding baking soda to apple cider vinegar is a popular health tonic used for many purported benefits. But does combining ACV and baking soda help relieve constipation?
When mixed together, baking soda neutralizes the acidity of apple cider vinegar. This reaction creates carbon dioxide bubbles and water along with sodium acetate.
Unfortunately, neutralizing the acid may inhibit any laxative properties of apple cider vinegar. And while the fizzy reaction seems impressive, there is minimal evidence that drinking this mixture provides medicinal effects.
There are also potential downsides to ingesting baking soda:
- Worsens low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria)
- Interacts with certain medications
- May increase sodium intake excessively
- Not recommended for those with heart failure or edema
Overall, apple cider vinegar alone is likely a better choice than combining it with baking soda if you’re aiming to relieve constipation. There are safer ways to make vinegar more palatable, like adding honey or lemon juice instead of baking soda.
Apple Cider Vinegar Frequently Asked Questions
Why does apple cider vinegar make you poop?
Apple cider vinegar may help relieve constipation in some people due to its acetic acid content. Acetic acid may increase gastric motility, stimulate bile, improve gut flora, and pull water into the colon to soften stool.
Does apple cider vinegar clean out your colon?
No, apple cider vinegar does not provide a complete “clean out” or remove toxins. It may stimulate a bowel movement by softening stool, but does not deeply cleanse the colon.
Is apple cider vinegar a natural laxative?
Apple cider vinegar may have mild laxative effects by helping soften stool. But it’s not considered a true laxative. More research is needed on how it affects bowel function.
Can apple cider vinegar upset your stomach?
Yes, apple cider vinegar may cause nausea, throat irritation, acid reflux symptoms, and other gastric upset in some people, especially at high dosages. Start with small diluted amounts.
How much apple cider vinegar should you take for constipation?
Most recommendations suggest 1-2 tablespoons (15–30 mL) per day diluted in water, juice, or tea. Start with just 1 teaspoon (5 mL) to assess tolerance first. Increase gradually as needed. Do not exceed 2 tablespoons (30 mL) per day.
The Bottom Line
Some evidence suggests apple cider vinegar may help relieve constipation, likely by acting as a mild stool softener. But studies proving these laxative effects are lacking.
Small daily doses diluted in water appear safe for most people. Start with 1 teaspoon (5mL) and slowly increase to 1-2 tablespoons (15–30 mL) maximum if needed and well tolerated.
See your healthcare provider for persistent constipation. Be cautious using apple cider vinegar long-term and avoid combining it with other laxatives or constipation medications without medical approval.