People have long been using apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a home remedy for health issues ranging from dandruff to toe fungus. But is ACV — whether applied topically or consumed — safe and effective for treating the skin-related psoriasis symptoms that can often occur with psoriatic arthritis?
“The information we have on ACV is based on limited research and data, and is mostly anecdotal,” says Andres E. Ayesta, RD, owner of Planos Nutrition in Tampa, Florida. The active ingredient in apple cider vinegar is acetic acid, produced when apples are fermented and exposed to certain enzymes. “Acetic acid kills harmful bacteria, which is the main reason ACV has been used as a disinfectant and preservative,” Ayesta says.
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Can You Apply Apple Cider Vinegar Directly to the Skin for Psoriatic Arthritis?
Applying ACV in diluted form to your skin may help relieve the redness and flakiness associated with psoriatic arthritis. ACV can help change the skin’s pH levels to lessen flaking, says Nicole Avena, PhD, an expert in diet and nutrition and an associate professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. It’s important to note, though, that any relief this might provide doesn’t address the underlying joint issues associated with psoriatic arthritis, says Ayesta. And you should proceed cautiously.
Using pure ACV on the skin, moreover, is likely to cause irritation. Always start off with diluted ACV, mixing equal parts vinegar and warm water, to make sure your skin or scalp can tolerate it. Gently pat it on your skin with a cloth, using just a few tablespoons.
Be especially careful when applying ACV near an open wound. Dr. Avena cautions that “if the affected area is cracked or bleeding, don’t apply ACV. And if you feel a burning sensation, stop using ACV and rinse the area with water.”
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Can Eating or Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar Help Treat Psoriatic Arthritis?
“Its popularity in natural health circles continues, even though definitive scientific backing is still forthcoming,” notes Ayesta, who says that when used in moderation, ACV is generally safe and can be part of a balanced diet. Common dosages for ACV consumption range from a teaspoon or two (5 to 10 milliliters) to a tablespoon or two (15 to 30 ml). You can drink it, diluting it with plain water to soften the sour taste, or add it to foods like salad dressings and mayonnaise.
However you choose to use ACV, “just make sure to include the mother,’’ Ayesta recommends, referring to the strands of protein and enzymes and friendly bacteria in unfiltered vinegar that give it a cloudy appearance and are believed to contribute to its health benefits, potentially increasing its effectiveness.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Safe for People With Psoriatic Arthritis?
It’s generally safe to use if you have psoriatic arthritis. But always consult with a medical doctor before using any therapy, including natural ones like ACV. “Though ACV does not appear to pose major health risks or side effects,” says Ayesta, “it is important to use it in moderation. It’s not a magic remedy and should complement a balanced, healthful lifestyle.”