Digestive issues were one of the roots of my migraines. At the time, I had no idea they were connected but they are what drove my brain right into pain, my senses into over-excitation and my body into the ground. Apple cider vinegar was a part of my journey back. In this article, I will be covering how apple cider vinegar and acid reflux are connected to migraines and headaches and what we can do about them.
So, what is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is a vinegar made from apple juice. But this is not just any vinegar.
It has been supported by research to help with:
Blood sugar control
Apple juice is turned into alcohol and then fermented into a vinegar, producing acetic acid.
The best brands are organic, unfiltered and contain the “mother” which you’ll see as a little murky substance in the bottom of the vinegar. Like Bragg’s apple cider vinegar here.
Vinegar can kill all sorts of pathogens and this is helpful to us on our journey for a strong gut.
Why apple cider vinegar? + Benefits
Apple cider vinegar is amazing for killing all sorts of pathogens and this is helpful to us on our journey for a strong gut. We want as few of the bad guys and as many of the good guys living in our intestines as possible so we always want to make sure we feed them well and maintain a balance.
It also has an amazing ability to regulate blood sugar is incredible and well studied for:
Improving insulin sensitivity(1)
Changing how strongly carbohydrates hit our blood sugar(2)
Improving post meal blood sugar(3)
It also improves one of our major risk factors for migraines and headaches…
Some studies have showed that if you have apple cider vinegar with a meal it can improve how quickly you get full and end up eating less food throughout the day.(4)
It has also been shown to help reduce belly fat in the obese with 15ml leading to 2.6lbs(1.2kg) and 30ml leading to 3.7lbs(1.7kg) of weight loss over 3 months.(5)
Some research is also coming out to show it may have an effect on heart disease as well which is yet another migraine risk factor we want to avoid.
See the infographic below for a number of ways you can add apple cider vinegar into your routine.
3 Keys To Apple Cider Vinegar With Migraines, Headaches and Acid Reflux
1. Using it for acid reflux is the opposite of what you think
The prevailing wisdom that’s been told for years and made billions of dollars off of us with through antacids and proton pump inhibitors is that acid reflux is caused by too much acid in the stomach.
But we need to understand that any time we are stressed, our stomach actually reduces stomach acid because it reduces digestive function.
Our culture is in a chronic state of stress and this is by far our largest killer so we have to factor this into our digestive health.
It is actually much more common that our feelings of acid reflux are caused by not having enough acid and eating poor quality Standard American Diet type foods.
Low stomach acid is much much more common than high and it shows in our societies ability to digest foods properly and maintain a strong gut.
Stomach acid needs to reach a low enough pH to empty into the intestine, if it doesn’t it will stay in the stomach and this can actually end up creating a fermentation like process that creates lactic acid.
This lactic acid will then come up and create the sensation of acid reflux.
Its easily misunderstood but worth a try for your particular situation to see if you need more acid.
Apple cider vinegar is an easy way to get this acid, same with the juice of a lemon taken immediately before and immediately after a meal.
Depending on how much acid you are creating and how big the meal is, your perfect amount may be more or less.
Apple cider vinegar is very strong so you may want to dilute it down if drinking or simply add it to food like a non vegetable/canola oil mayonnaise or a salad dressing.
2. Apple Cider vinegar is a digestive powerhouse
Not only is apple cider great for digestion because it supports our stomach acid, cleaning up of bacteria and regulation of blood sugar which are all essential gut supports, but it also contains prebiotics because of the fermentation process required to make it.
Prebiotics can be thought of as the foods that our microorganisms eat.
Where as we might eat a vegetable and get calories and nutrients from it, that vegetable also contains fibres that our body cannot breakdown and absorb.
So what ends up happening is our gut bacteria eat these fibres and break them down, allowing them to maintain balance and give our gut microbiome strength.
These gut bacteria will then create postbiotics from these prebiotic fibres which help modulate our immune system and improve our oral tolerance or the ability for our body to tolerate foods.
These are all essentials in maintaining a strong gut, strong immunity and strong resilient brain.
3. Your Gut – Brain Axis will thank you
When we want to create and keep a happy brain, we need to understand our gut-brain axis and take steps to improve it.
Apple cider vinegar helps us do that.
Our gut-brain axis is the massive super highway of nerves that sends messages from our gut to our brain and vice versa.
A majority of this happens through the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve is incredibly important and making sure we have strong vagal tone and keep the nerve toned makes sure that when our brain is in rest and digest, so is our body.
The vagus nerve actually has a 9:1 afferent to efferent signalling from the gut to the brain. This means that is sends 9 times as much information to the brain than the brain does to the gut and it signals how important gut health really is.
Not only that but our brain is also 90% immune cells and only 10% nerve cells.
With our gut being where the majority of our bodies immune system sits, when things go wrong in the gut, they play a huge role in the brain.
By improving our acid reflux by reducing poor quality foods and figuring out if we actually need more stomach acid…
And by using apple cider vinegar to support our blood sugar, weight loss, cholesterol, digestion and gut-brain we have an incredible new, and more whole approach to the causes of our migraines or headaches.
But there are some precautions we need to be aware of.
When to avoid apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar(ACV) needs to be cautioned in 3 different situations but of course before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet you want to ask your doctor.
The three are:
Histamines play a large role in a percentage of the migraine population but it’s by no means all of them.
The downside is that because ACV is a vinegar and the result of a fermentation process it is high in histamines so if you have histamine issues, you may want to steer clear of it.
As with any new substance you want to gauge your reaction to it and be careful because it is a vinegar and contains strong acids. It is likely too acidic to drink on its own without dilution and long term use should be supervised.
The last and final precaution is around stomach ulcers.
Because you are adding acid to your stomach it may aggravate any stomach ulcers you have.
But I am not one to leave you hanging as stomach ulcers may be a sign of bacterial infection.
It is often that bacteria like H pylori will burrow into the stomach lining and cause inflammation, contributing to gastric ulcers.
Not only that, but these bacteria can actually neutralize any stomach acid that we create, leading to this problem with acid reflux and making it more complex than just fixing stomach acid.
This is where I would run specific laboratory tests out of my highly trusted and accurate lab as one of my clients.
I’ll help you figure out what’s going on, run the tests to find out what’s causing your gastrointestinal issues and then teach you a protocol to deal with these bugs. But of course we will also look at everything in the greater scheme of migraines and headaches and educate you as a whole.
If you’re looking for help getting to the root cause feel free to join me for a call here.
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Holistic Health Practitioner
Mark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.