Apple Cider Vinegar: The Good News and Bad News

Apple Cider Vinegar: The Good News and Bad News

Plus, can opioids really cause chronic pain?

Q: I hear that apple cider vinegar helps with weight loss and improves glucose tolerance for people with diabetes. Is this true? — Emma S., Los Angeles, CA

A: Glad you asked, Emma. Dr. Oz had a report on his April 30th show—The Apple Cider Vinegar Project—on that very subject. It takes a look at the good and bad news about taking apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a health-booster.

The Basics: ACV starts off as apple juice, but adding yeast (for fermentation) turns its fruit sugar into alcohol and then bacteria turns the alcohol into acetic acid—the key ingredient that conveys ACV’s health benefits. Studies show that ACV can reduce the rise in your blood glucose level after a meal and help promote weight loss as part of a calorie-restricted diet. Dr. Oz recommends one teaspoon before or with each meal (add to salad dressing, a berry shake) in his apple cider vinegar detox.

However, one of the show’s guests, Dr. Tod Cooperman, President and Founder of, wants consumers to be careful with ACV. High levels (remember it’s acidic) can potentially damage your teeth, throat and stomach. In fact, household products with acetic acid content above 20 percent should be labeled as poisons, but foods and supplements are exempt from such labeling!

Due to its growing popularity, ACV is now popping up in pill form, so tested some to see how they compared to the liquid.

All the liquid ACV’s they tested had between five and six percent acetic acid in them.  But when they tested the pills, they found a wide range of results, from an acetic acid level of 0.4 percent (ineffective) up to 30 percent (potentially dangerous)! After the show aired, one maker of ACV pills told it’s going to add a warning label and include specific instructions for use.

Bottom line: Stick with the bottled liquid ACV—and watch the segment on

Q: I recently had a spinal fusion operation (same as Tiger) and I’m tapering off my pain meds. But my pain doesn’t seem to be going away and there’s no indication that anything is wrong with my back’s repair. Why do I feel so bad?  — John W., Hebron, KY

A: Back surgery is complex, and recovery takes time. Tiger Woods had his spinal fusion operation (anterior lumbar interbody fusion) in April 2017. After a year, he’s now playing golf at a level that can only be attained by a few people. We hope you recover as well as he has. But remember, Tiger also had a rough time getting away from the medications that were necessary for him to endure his operation.

A recent study from the University of Colorado Boulder sheds some light on why he, you, and millions of others have found that taking pain pills isn’t always a simple solution to post-op pain and “trauma, including surgery, in combination with opiates can lead to chronic pain.”

The study published in Anesthesia & Analgesia found in animal tests that the longer test subjects were taking morphine, the longer their pain lasted after they stopped taking opioids. Something is going on inside the nervous system’s pain receptors that actually prolongs pain and the desire for pain relief.

That’s why you need a good pain management specialist to guide you through your detox and regular physical therapy to make you even stronger. Pain is a serious issue and today’s medications are so good, it’s much easier to get hooked than it was in the '70s when pain meds had dysphoric or nausea-creating side effects.

We cannot stress enough that if the pain or the need for narcotics lasts longer than three days, you should seek an immediate second opinion from a pain management specialist.

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