From glowing skin to weight loss, apple cider vinegar (ACV) has you covered — so the Insta wellness gurus say. Rumor has it high vitamin C content makes it a magic tonic for the gnarliest of colds.

What even is ACV?

Apple cider vinegar is fermented, unstrained apple juice. The fermentation fills it with acetic acid and some serious stank. But ACV still has the wholesome goodness of apple juice, including fiber and vitamin C.

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So, is this salad dressing comeback legit or laughable? Here’s what we know.

The jury’s still out on whether ACV is powerful and consistent enough to be considered a cold treatment. But if you’re keen on natural remedies before reaching for the cold meds, there are some benefits.

The “mother”-load of good bacteria

Organic, cold-pressed ACV (y’know, the quality stuff) looks like cloudy juice swirling with “must,” a fancy term for floating fermented apple bits. Inside the “must” is the “mother,” a fluffy colony of healthy bacteria and enzymes that ACV brands love bragging about.

The “mother” looks pretty gross TBH, but it works as a probiotic in your body. And science says probiotics help boost your immune system, which is a great way to kill a cold!

Buh-bye, congestion!

ACV’s acid loosens phlegm, that gunk in your throat and chest. And while soothing congestion might feel like killing off your cold, it could also just make you more comfortable while you ride out the sickness.

An apple a day…

… keeps the doctor away, right? ACV is like apples on steroids, packed with potassium, antioxidants, vitamin E, and vitamin C.

A 2004 nutrition review suggested apples boost lung function. Another reason ACV helps you breathe easy!

Germ-busting powers

Research suggests the acetic acid helps ACV kill off the bacteria and germs that make you feel under the weather in the first place.

The easiest, most popular way to take ACV is by mixing a tablespoon or two into a big glass of water. But there are a few ways to take your cold remedy game to the next level.

ACV throat rub

If your main issue is congestion, try rubbing some diluted ACV on the outside of your throat and sinuses. It won’t smell pretty, but the acid could open your sinuses, loosen phlegm, and help you breathe better while your body fights off infection.

ACV gargle

Take it up a notch and coat the inside of your sore throat. Mix up these ingredients, tilt your head back, and gargle for about 2 minutes.

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup ACV

Remember to rinse the acid off your teeth by swishing water afterward.

ACV honey tonic

Try this centuries-old cold remedy called oxymel.

  • Stir 1 part ACV into 5 parts warm water
  • Pour in 2 to 3 tablespoons of raw honey

ACV capsules

Peeps who can’t stand the taste of ACV could always pop a supplement. Pills won’t have the same amount of vitamin C as the liquid, and research is super limited on their effectiveness, but it’s an option.

Remember, the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, so you should probably consult your doc about potential risks before splurging on a bottle.

Apple cider vinegar isn’t the only tonic on the block! Try combining it with these remedies.


Turmeric gets its anti-inflammatory powers thanks to curcumin. Research indicates this little ingredient could help treat infections.

It’s available as a supplement, but you could also just grate some turmeric into your tea or oxymel.


Research suggests echinacea could help you keep future colds away.

Devotees take it as a supplement, cough syrup, or herbal tincture — which could be mixed into your ACV tonic.


Research is still limited, but it’s possible that the allicin in garlic kills off germs and prevents colds or keeps them from getting worse.

Dose on garlic in your favorite dishes or swallow a raw chopped clove with a spoonful of honey for a sore throat (and breath that could kill).


A 2013 review suggested that ginger’s anti-inflammatory power could soothe sore throats, coughs, and colds. Try ginger tea or add raw ginger to your a.m. glass of juice.

Sinus wash

Try clearing congestion with a little salt water. Known as nasal irrigation (fun?), this remedy involves pouring a saltwater solution through your nasal cavity to wash out bacteria and mucus. It’s best to speak with a doctor before using it.

ACV is super acidic, which means it could irritate your stomach, esophagus, and any digestive tissues. If you have GERD or are prone to nausea, you might want to pass on this cold remedy.

Acid also erodes tooth enamel, so rinse your mouth after taking ACV.

Since the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t have an official opinion on ACV — at least according to CNN — check with a doctor before giving it to your kid for a sore throat or congestion.

Finally, ACV could have negative interactions with prescription meds, so consult your doc about your specific situation.

Apple cider vinegar isn’t a magic cure for colds, and more research is needed to call it an official treatment.

That said, there could be benefits to reaching for ACV when you’re under the weather. It’s antibacterial and full of vitamins. For most peeps, it’s an affordable, low-risk way to get over a cold more quickly.

Whether or not you’re dosing on ACV, make an appointment with your doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms:

  • persistent nausea
  • dizziness
  • a cough that won’t go away
  • fever for more than 48 hours

ACV is a remedy, not a medicine. Call a medical professional if your cold gets worse or you think you might have a more serious illness.