Apple cider vinegar may help treat colds because of its antimicrobial properties. It is popular as a home remedy, but more research is necessary to confirm its effectiveness against colds.

Apple cider vinegar has a long history of use. Hippocrates mixed it with honey to treat disease, and soldiers used it to disinfect their wounds during the American Civil War.

Apple cider vinegar derives from apple cider that manufacturers ferment in order to remove the alcohol.

Many people believe that it contains a range of compounds that may benefit a person’s health.

Read on to find out how effective apple cider vinegar is for colds, how to use it, and its possible side effects.

a spoonful of apple cider vinegar which can be used for treating coldsShare on Pinterest
The antimicrobial properties of apple cider vinegar may kill some bacteria.

Research has shown that apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties and can kill bacteria, yeasts, and fungal infections. However, one study found that apple cider vinegar was not effective against influenza and may not have any effect against viruses, which are the cause of the common cold.

Even though there is no scientific proof that apple cider vinegar is an effective treatment for colds, its antimicrobial qualities may help to ease cold symptoms in some people.

If a person has a cold and prefers to use a natural remedy rather than medication, they could try using apple cider vinegar to see if it eases their symptoms.

Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial and antioxidant effects. Many of its health benefits are due to its polyphenolic compounds. These are active chemicals in plants, including fruits and vegetables.

Other types of fruit vinegar, such as grape vinegar, also contain polyphenolic compounds. However, white vinegar does not.

Polyphenolic compounds act as antioxidants and prevent the formation of free radicals, which can damage tissue.

Research suggests polyphenols can have positive effects on certain types of cancer, coronary heart disease, and various inflammatory disorders.

Certain types of apple cider vinegar include the “mother,” which is a colony of beneficial probiotic bacteria. These can help support the gut and immune system.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, there may be some side effects of consuming apple cider vinegar, including:

  • Damage to the tooth enamel: This may occur if a person consumes it undiluted. It may be preferable to use it as part of a salad dressing.
  • Reduction of potassium levels. People who take medications such as diuretics should speak to their doctor before taking apple cider vinegar.
  • Alterations to insulin levels. People who have diabetes should be particularly cautious.

Learn more about the side effects of apple cider vinegar here.

People can use apple cider vinegar in a variety of home remedy recipes. Some examples include:


People can make a herbal preparation called an oxymel using honey and apple cider vinegar.

To do this, they would need to steep a herb in the mixture in a glass jar. Consider using herbs with antimicrobial or anti-inflammatory properties, such as oregano, thyme, turmeric, or garlic.

The Herbal Academy advise how to make an oxymel:

  1. Quarter fill a clean, dry jar with the herb of choice.
  2. Cover the herb with equal parts apple cider vinegar and raw honey.
  3. Stir, place a plastic lid on, and shake until well mixed.
  4. Store in a cool, dark place and shake every couple of days.
  5. After about 2 weeks, strain the mixture and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
  6. Consume by the spoonful as needed.

As oxymels contain raw honey, people should not give them to children under 12 months old.

Pregnant women, children, and people with health conditions or those taking medications should use caution when considering any herbal preparation.

Diluted apple cider vinegar

A person can make a soothing drink, using about 5 parts warm water to 1 part apple cider vinegar. They can also gargle with an equal mixture of warm water and vinegar.

Extra ingredients

A person can add extra ingredients to an apple cider vinegar drink to help soothe the throat, ease coughing, and loosen phlegm, such as:

As well as being a popular remedy for symptoms associated with a cold, apple cider vinegar may also help other conditions, such as:

Learn more about the benefits of apple cider vinegar here.

The following is a list of different home remedies that a person can try to ease a cold.


Curcumin is the anti-inflammatory ingredient in the spice turmeric. Research in human cells and mice suggests that this component could help treat viral infections.

People can make a soothing tea by grating some fresh root or a half teaspoon of dried spice into hot water. Try adding some cinnamon and honey to sweeten.


Echinacea could help reduce the incidence and length of a cold, and the need for further medication, according to research. People can take it as a herbal tincture, cough syrup, or tablet.


Garlic contains an active ingredient called allicin. This compound is antimicrobial and may help prevent the common cold, although research is limited.

People can add garlic to cooking and salad dressings, or chop it raw into a spoonful of honey for a sore throat.

Learn more about garlic for colds here.


An article in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to soothe colds, coughs, and sore throats. A person can add it to a warm drink or a fresh juice.

Learn more about home remedies for the common cold here.

Nasal irrigation

Nasal irrigation is a traditional remedy for upper respiratory tract infections. It involves irrigating the nose with either saltwater or isotonic solution.

Research indicates it reduces the number of microbes in the respiratory tract by flushing out the mucous lining and having a positive effect on the cells.

The neti pot is the traditional means of administration. However, scientific evidence for nasal irrigation is poor. It is best to use distilled water and clean the neti pot carefully as it can grow mold and bacteria.

Learn more about neti pots here.

Although not a proven treatment, apple cider vinegar may be effective against cold symptoms in some people. A person might prefer to take a natural remedy rather than medication for a cold.

People can try a drink or recipe that contains additional anti-inflammatory ingredients. This might help to soothe and ease symptoms of a cold and could prevent further complications.

Before trying a new remedy or herbal product, check with a medical professional to ensure that it will not interact with other medications or health conditions.

Pregnant women and children should also avoid herbal preparations unless they seek professional advice.