An immunologist who says that apple cider vinegar is almost as effective as common antibiotics when it comes to killing E coli and MRSA has called its potential “exciting”.

Darshna Yagnik, a lecturer in biomedical science at Middlesex University, discovered the benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV) by accident after drinking some to try to quell an upset stomach when she ate some gone-off food.

She said: “Immediately, I felt like there was something going on, combating the bacteria. My stomach was gurgling and after about 10 minutes it started feeling soothed. After about half an hour or an hour, I felt much better.”

The results prompted her to test the capabilities of ACV in the laboratory and after a “multitude of experiments”, Dr Yagnik produced a research paper which showed that the substance kills E coli and MRSA in petri dishes almost as well as common antibiotics. It is not yet known how this would translate in humans.

While ACV has a reputation for other health benefits, a lack of large-scale, comprehensive trials mean that many medics are reluctant to recommend it, and say more evidence is needed.

Dr Yagnik, however, feels like she has only “scratched the surface” when it comes to revealing the health benefits of ACV and that there are “so many different pathways that it’s acting on and it’s very exciting”.

“I started researching different ways the vinegar might be acting on the bacteria. I wasn’t surprised at the results, but it was amazing how it was working – it just destroyed them. Even my microbiologist friends were amazed.”

She believes that ACV works in two ways when it comes to fighting bugs, by killing them and by strengthening our cellular defences. Dr Yagnik did note that the effects would depend on the individual, saying: “Everyone’s got a different immunity.”

Registered dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine urged caution when it comes to relying on ACV, saying that although many people think it helps digestion “there is no evidence supporting that”.

She went on to say that the brown fog that is found in organic, unfiltered ACV is what “includes different proteins, enzymes and bacteria. Some people believe that this is responsible for the health benefits of consuming apple cider vinegar, although there are no studies documenting this.”

She also said that acetic acid found in ACV is what “some believe… plays a key part in the health claims. Acetic acid is found in most fruits, which are also key sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre – unlike apple cider vinegar.”

During her research, Dr Yagnik also found signs that ACV could help reduce inflammation.

An analysis of six small studies found that ACV may help to control blood sugar levels too. However, it is not recommended by medics and for people with type 1 diabetes, it could cause issues with blood sugar control.

Ludlam-Raine said: “Drinking apple cider vinegar should not replace medicines for diabetes management and could be bad news for teeth health. Apple cider vinegar is strongly acidic, so there are risks of enamel erosion – and reflux [heartburn], too.”

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