Is Pickle Juice Becoming A New Craze In The Chronic Kidney Disease Community For Dialysis Patients?

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As many Chronic Kidney Disease patients who conduct Dialysis have experienced, muscle cramps are a common complication during Dialysis Treatments. In fact, “cramps occur in 1/3 to 2/3 of all Dialysis patients,” according to Dr. Paul Kellerman (Wisconsin Dialysis). The exact cause of cramps in Dialysis patients is usually unknown and there is not a lot that Dialysis patients can do to prevent cramping in the legs, hands, arms and even abdominal muscles due to their treatments. If left untreated, cramps can greatly impact a Chronic Kidney Disease patient’s day-to-day health outcomes and quality of life. Well, now in a craze that is rapidly sweeping the Chronic Kidney Disease Community, patients are turning to an unlikely source – Pickle Juice.

Many causes have been associated with cramps in Dialysis patients including volume contraction (getting too dry during treatments), low blood sodium concentration, low body magnesium, and Carnitine Deficiency (condition that prevents the body from using certain fats for energy, particularly during periods without food). Wisconsin Dialysis suggested that, “Of these, the first two seem to be the most common. In terms of volume contraction, both getting below your ‘dry weight’ (goal weight at the end of dialysis), as well as rapid removal of large volumes can result in cramps.” Similarly, low concentrations of sodium in the Dialysis Bath can also cause painful cramps by lowering your blood sodium concentration.

Pickles are cucumbers that have been fermented in a brine (solution of salt) made of water, according to While pickles and their juice byproduct typically contain small amounts of potassium, Pickle Juice is said to be a High Sodium Food for Chronic Kidney Disease patients. However, after Dialysis has removed high levels of sodium from a patient’s body, a little Pickle Juice does wonders to add back in necessary sodium lost as well as help Chronic Kidney Disease patients avoid life hampering cramps. Still, be sure to discuss the safe use of pickle juice with your Dietitian.

One patient wrote, “I have been on Hemodialyiss for 14 years, and I have found that drinking a little Pickle Juice greatly helps alleviate my once frequent Leg Cramps.” This patient is not alone. Recently, Social Media has been ablaze with Dialysis patients sharing their First Hand Experience with pickle juice:

  • “Guess what, pickle juice has eliminated my cramps!”  
  • “Pickle Juice is perfect. I know a professional athlete who also was told that it helps with cramping.”
  • “It is great for cramps if you drink Pickle Juice during or after Dialysis.”
  • “Do not over do it. Maybe just 1/4 cup of Pickle Juice will get your the cramp relief you need.”

If you are wondering, what is a good recipe for Pickle Juice, you may be over thinking it. The Pickle Juice which we are referring to is just simply the juice directly out of a pickle jar. Pickles are high in sodium so let your family and friends enjoy the pickles, but ask them to save the juice for you! 

Other foods which have been noted to also help with preventing cramps include chicken broth and mustard. Again, be careful with the magnesium and sodium found in Pickle Juice and of course talk to your Dietitian before incorporating the brine base into your diet.

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