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Pickle Juice for Cramps: Does It Work?

Medically reviewed by Katherine Marengo, LDN, RD, specialty in nutrition, on September 12, 2019m| Written by Adrian White

What does pickle juice have to do with cramps?

Pickle juice has become a popular remedy for leg cramps over the years — specifically for the cramps runners and athletes get after a workout.

Some athletes swear by it, attesting that pickle juice really works. Still, the science behind it is unclear.

On the one hand, skeptics have doubted that pickle juice works for leg cramps at all. There’s no solid scientific reason yet proving how it works, so some write it off as a placebo effect.

On the other hand, some research suggests that pickle juice is way more effective than a placebo. However, it’s still unclear why.

One long-standing theory for how pickle juice works is its sodium content. The juice contains salt and vinegar, which may help replenish electrolytes. But is this actually true?

Keep reading to learn more.

Does it actually work?

Because pickle juice is such a widely used remedy for leg cramps in the sports world, there’s been some research and studies investigating its effects — though not much.

Very few studies fully explain or prove how it works. Nor do they explain how it doesn’t work, or how it’s just a placebo effect. To date, the efficacy of pickle juice is still uncertain.

Some have theorized that pickle juice’s electrolytes prevent leg cramps after exercise — but one study in 2014 debunked this.

After checking blood plasma levels of nine healthy men for signs of increased electrolytes following consumption of pickle juice after exercise, researchers found that electrolyte levels remained the same.

They also stayed level no matter what the study participants drank: water, sports drinks, or pickle juice. This is because it takes a lot longer for electrolytes to be fully absorbed into the body, and long after a muscle cramp would come and go.

The same set of researchers also did a test on pickle juice for cramps earlier in 2010. They found that it did work to shorten cramp duration. On average, it relieved cramps in about 1.5 minutes, and 45 percent faster than when nothing was taken after exercise.

Cramp relief also had nothing to do with placebo effect. This led to the more intense exploration of pickle juice’s effects on electrolyte levels later in 2014.

How to use pickle juice for cramps

In studies where pickle juice was effective for muscular cramps, researchers used about 1 milliliter per kilogram of body weight. For the average study participant, this was somewhere between 2 to 3 fluid ounces.

To use pickle juice for muscular cramps, measure out the pickle juice and drink it quickly. Taking a rough “shot” is also acceptable.

You can use pickle juice from store-bought cucumber pickles or safely fermented homemade pickles, if you desire. Make sure the natural vinegar acids and salts are present. It also doesn’t matter if the pickle juice was pasteurized or not.

Because it’s thought that cramp relief comes from the vinegar specifically, avoid watering the juice down. Drink it raw and experience the taste. However, this may be difficult for some people who don’t enjoy the taste so much.

The science behind why it works

While it hasn’t been proven yet, researchers posit that pickle juice may help cramps by triggering muscular reflexes when the liquid contacts the back of the throat.

This reflex shuts down the misfiring of neurons in muscle all over the body, and “turns off” the cramping feeling. It’s thought that it’s specifically the vinegar content in pickle juice that does this.

Still, more research is needed to prove if this is exactly how pickle juice works to prevent cramps. While there are no studies proving that pickle juice doesn’t work, or that it’s a placebo, more research supports that it does indeed work by this mechanism.

Does it have to be pickle juice?

Over time, pickle juice has been unique and popular in the way it helps with muscle cramps. Thus far, there haven’t been many other natural foods or remedies to rival it.

Foods of a similar vein haven’t been studied as much as pickle juice for cramps. But they could be just as good.

Could you eat a pickle and have the same effect? Scientifically speaking, maybe.

As researchers supposed in 2010, the cramp relief may have more to do with the vinegar content. If you eat a pickle brined with vinegar, it might also work.

However, eating a pickle isn’t as well-studied as pickle juice.

What about other similar fermented products? Liquids like sauerkraut juice, kimchi juice, apple cider vinegar, and even kombucha are similar to pickle juice. Some have both vinegar and salt content, while others have just vinegar content.

Following the vinegar theory, these may also work. They just haven’t been studied or tested like pickle juice has.

There’s no harm in giving them a try if you consider any of the possible side effects beforehand.

What should I know before using pickle juice?

Some doctors and health professionals warn that pickle juice could possibly worsen dehydration. They say it curbs thirst when you drink it, but doesn’t rehydrate like water.

According to both the 2010 and 2014 studies, this isn’t true. Pickle juice won’t dehydrate you, and it doesn’t curb thirst. It’ll also rehydrate you just as much as water, another similar study in 2013 suggests.

If small amounts are taken — such as 2 to 3 fluid ounces occasionally — there should be little to no health or dehydration concerns.

Pickle juice tends to have a lot of salt, and is thus high in sodium. People with high blood pressure and those who are watching dietary sodium may want to be careful not to take too much pickle juice and use it only occasionally.

Pickles, especially homemade, have high levels of probiotics for gut health and immune system function.

Be careful taking it if you have digestive ailments or disorders. Some pickle juices are high in acetic acids, which can worsen certain symptoms. There are also some other possible side effects, too.

The bottom line

The verdict thus far is that pickle juice can work for leg cramps after exercise. Though there isn’t a whole lot of research on it, the studies so far are quite supportive.

Use of pickle juice to occasionally get rid of cramps post-exercise should also generally be quite safe. If you have any concerns, talk to your healthcare provider before using it.

Originally Published: https://www.healthline.com/health/pickle-juice-for-cramps

Should You Really Be Drinking Pickle Juice After a Workout? It sounds gross, but some people swear it helps with recovery.

By Isadora Baum | Aug 3, 2018

If you think of pickle juice as a beverage at all, it’s probably only as an alcohol chaser. But some people swear that there’s a good reason to chug the briny liquid at the bottom of your pickle jar: it can help reduce muscle cramps and expedite your post-workout recovery.

Does taking shots of warm pickle juice at the gym sound appetizing? Not really, nope. So we decided to call up a few experts and find out whether there’s any truth to the rumor.

What is actually in pickle juice?

First off, pickle juice is basically just salt. “Pickling is a method of preserving cucumbers in water and salt over time. The juice that remains is a mixture of water, salt and cucumber juice,” Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD told MensHealth.com.

How does pickle juice work for recovery?

“During intense activity (usually lasting longer than an hour) or working out in extremely hot conditions, an athlete will sweat a lot and lose electrolytes (sodium and potassium) in their sweat,” says Rizzo.

To not lose steam and to keep up performance, you need to replace those electrolytes and stay hydrated. So after, say, sweating it out during a brutal CrossFit circuit, you may want something with a salty kick.

Because it’s so salty, pickle juice contains a ton of sodium, as well as smaller amounts of postassium and magnesium, explains Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, CPT. Replenishing these electrolytes can perk you up when you’re feeling fatigued and rehydrate you quickly.

Are there any other benefits to drinking pickle juice?

There’s also some evidence

Beyond that, pickle juice may also help to improve digestion. “The pickling (aka fermenting) process creates live cultures (probiotics) in the juice, so the juice may be good for gut health,” Shaw says.

I’d rather not straight-up chug pickle juice. Are there any other ways to take it?

You can cook with pickle juice to benefit from its effects. Shaw recommends using one-third of a cup of pickle juice while browning meat: “Since my family is a big fan of the spicy pickles, I’ve found the liquid in the empty jar serves as an excellent flavor enhancer when I’m browning my lean turkey or pork for tacos and chili,” saysShaw. And because the flavor is so strong, there’s no need to add other herbs or seasonings.

You can also use pickle juice as a marinade for beef or pork. “Marinate a piece of meat with as much pickle juice as needed to coat the meat,” says Rizzo. Keep it in the fridge for 1-3 hours or so for it to sit. Shaw recommends using it to make tacos or Sloppy Joe-style sandwiches, or subbing in pickle juice for apple cider vinegar in this delicious short ribs recipe.

You can also use that pickle juice to make even more pickled veggies, such as shredded cabbage, carrots, or radishes, or as a way to make poached eggs, says Dana Angelo White, MS RD. . “Usually, you poach an egg in boiling water with 1 tablespoon of vinegar,” she says. Instead of the vinegar, use pickle juice. It gives the egg a savory, salty edge that will really wake you up in the AM.

And of course, if you’re really into pickles, you can also use pickle juice to make even more pickles: “Throw some sliced cucumbers into the pickle juice and marinate overnight. They will become pickles before you know it,” says Rizzo.

Isadora Baum Isadora Baum is a freelance writer, certified health coach, and author of 5-Minute Energy.

Originally Published: https://www.menshealth.com/health/a22550892/benefits-of-pickle-juice/

Pickle Juice: 4 Health Benefits Of Drinking The Green Juice

Apr 25, 2014 | By Sabrina Bachai

Pickle juice — it’s often the forgotten counterpart when enjoying delicious pickles, and fortunately it actually does more than just add flavor to your favorite side dish. There are also many health benefits associated with the leftover juice. 

According to the New York Food Museum, the history of cucumbers dates back to 2030 B.C. when cucumbers were first brought over from India to the Tigris Valley, and people needed a way to preserve them. Cleopatra even claimed that her diet of pickles helped maintain her beauty. In modern times, pickles are used in many ways: drinks, foods, and beauty remedies, to name a few. However, pickle juice also has amazing health benefits like curing a hangover and soothing heartburn. We’ve listed some helpful ways you can incorporate pickle juice into your life:

1.       Hangover Cure:

One of the main reasons people feel so terrible when they’ve spent a night drinking is because alcohol is a diuretic, leaving you feeling dehydrated. Drinking pickle juice helps to replenish your depleted sodium levels.

2.     Post-Workout Cure:

Many athletes swear by it because it helps to rebuild electrolytes post-workout. Pickle juice contains sodium and vinegar — both necessary in aiding athletes and those who sweat heavily. Some researchers also credit vinegar to help relieve the cramps; others say it’s the magnesium. This might also be useful pre-workout, too. The National Institutes of Health found that ingesting high-sodium drinks pre-exercise can improve thermoregulation and performance.  

3.       PMS Remedy:

It works the same way as it would for a post-workout cure because it helps to hydrate the body and alleviate cramping. It also will help to curb the salt cravings that many women have when they are menstruating.

4.       Heartburn Relief:

This might sound like it would cause the exact opposite effect, since vinegar triggers heartburn for some, but the vinegar in pickle juice actually helps some people soothe heartburn, according to Yahoo Shine.

Originally Published: https://www.medicaldaily.com/pickle-juice-4-health-benefits-drinking-green-juice-278780

Science be damned, football players are drinking pickle juice to try to ward off cramps

Washington Post | Sports | High School Sports
By: Jacob Bogage September 22, 2016

That bottle doesn’t have water in it. Or Ga­tor­ade. Or anything you might want to chug down.

There is, instead, pickle juice: briny and sour with seeds floating to the top, acidic enough to sting the back of your throat and make you reevaluate the decision to drink it.

Thirsty? Not anymore.

And yet football teams nationwide — from high schools into the college and professional ranks — are keeping pickle juice on their benches and in their cafeterias to ward off cramps and fight dehydration, regardless of the lack of science demonstrating its efficacy.

Lackey High School running back Malik Burns couldn’t get enough of the stuff after a broiling night game earlier this season.

“It was very hot outside, so when [my coach] said something about the pickle juice, I went for it,” he said. “It tasted pretty good, and it helped out a lot. That was one of the first games where I didn’t cramp.”

Coaches and athletes alike have sworn by it for decades, pointing to its sodium content as a way to help retain moisture and electrolytes.

“Most athletes walk around in a dehydrated state,” said Randy Bird, director of sports nutrition at the University of Virginia. “It’s not an acute problem; it’s a gradual problem throughout the week. So Monday they practice and don’t properly hydrate, and Tuesday they do it again. And then, bam, it’s Saturday, and they’re very dehydrated.”

Coaches and nutrition specialists have turned to all kinds of remedies to keep athletes hydrated and stocked up on electrolytes.

The University of Maryland football team passes out pickle juice to players as a post-practice refreshment.

A manager on the Lackey team is in charge of a three-gallon jug of kosher dills and keeps a squirt bottle full of the juice. Trainers keep mustard packets on the sideline for players to gulp down during stoppages.

Bullis Coach Pat Cilento switched two years ago from pickle juice to apple cider vinegar. Players get a shot of it in a Dixie cup on Thursdays and two more on Fridays. During Cilento’s one-year stint at Sherwood, in 2009, the Warriors kept a bottle of pickle juice on the sideline during games. Upperclassmen would toss the bottle to underclassmen as a prank during timeouts.

“Normally we would put tape around it so everyone would know, but then they would rip the tape off,” Cilento says now with a laugh. “They knew what they were doing.”

But the actual impact of pickle juice — or any kind of salty fluid — is less well known.

“It’s definitely been something that’s been around for a while,” said Colleen Davis, director of sports nutrition at Maryland. “But the biggest thing as a dietitian is thinking about more than one thing. I don’t think pickle juice is a sole factor in preventing or alleviating cramps.”

And there isn’t any science that says pickle juice or vinegar or mustard packets prevent cramps, Bird said.

Cramps are caused by a lot of things, such as dehydration, an electrolyte imbalance or a lack of carbohydrate fuel. Some cramps are even caused by hiccups in the nervous system that cause muscles to get stuck in the “on” position, Bird said.

But a 2010 study conducted by researchers at North Dakota State and Brigham Young universities found that ingesting pickle juice right before or during a game doesn’t have much of an effect. The extra sodium that might ward off a cramp doesn’t reach the blood stream in time to be preventative. And athletes drink such a small amount of the stuff that it’s not enough sodium to really make a difference regardless.

In other words, those shots of apple cider vinegar and the mustard packets may be more torture than they are helpful.

But the acid found in the pickle juice, vinegar and mustard does help alleviate cramps, the study concluded. A cramp induced by researchers lasted two minutes on average. Those cramps lasted 30 seconds shorter when test subjects drank pickle juice during the experiment. When subjects drank water, there was no change.

Researchers argue that the acid in the liquid reacts with nerves in your throat that somehow calm your cramping muscle in less than a minute.

Science aside, though, coaches across the area still turn to the liquid to keep their players on the field — and figure to continue to.

Friendship Collegiate linebacker-fullback Hassan Terry felt a cramp in his right calf earlier this month during a game against Carroll. As the Knights’ trainer tended to Terry on the sideline, the trainer shouted to the bench: “Get the pickle juice!”

Originally Published: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/highschools/science-be-damned-football-players-are-drinking-pickle-juice-to-try-to-ward-off-cramps/2016/09/22/fe60fa50-7b65-11e6-bd86-b7bbd53d2b5d_story.html

Why Every Athlete Should Have Pickle Juice

By Kelli Jennings For Active.com

Muscle cramps can bring even the strongest athlete to his or her knees. And while, there are a number of theories as to what causes cramps—including hydration, bike fit, form and electrolytes—they seem to happen more in races than in training.

Despite the lack of answers as to why cramps occur, a number of remedies have cropped up in recent years. Some of them are probably already in your pantry.

The Research

Research, as far back as several decades ago and as recently as 2013, suggests pickle juice relieves cramps. In the 2013 study, cramps lasted about 49 seconds less when participants drank pickle juice rather than water.

The first assumption is that fluids and sodium are anti-cramping agents.  However, other studies have concluded that the plasma volume and plasma concentrations of sodium remain unchanged after pickle juice consumption, leading researchers to believe something else is causing the cessation of the cramps.

Most experts think it’s the vinegar.

It’s believed that the vinegar triggers a reflex that alerts our brains to tell our muscles to stop contracting and relax, and the muscle cramping is reduced as soon as the vinegar touches receptors in the mouth.

Bring a small amount of pickle juice with you on your next training session (2 ounces is usually enough) or try the Pickle Juice Sports Drink.

Mustard contains vinegar in smaller, but potentially effective amounts as well. However, it has not been as well studied as pickle juice. Packets of yellow and honey mustard are portable on the trail or road, and often easier to consume than pickle juice. Mustard has up to 100 milligrams of sodium per packet and also contains turmeric, which is helpful for muscle soreness and inflammation.

Beyond the cramps, pickle juice and mustard provide other benefits for athletes:

Sodium: Adequate intake can improve hydration and reduce cramping, at least in practice. Just 1 tablespoon of mustard has 200 milligrams sodium and 2 ounces pickle juice has more than 400 milligrams sodium. Just 2 ounces of the pickle juice sports drink has about 225 milligrams sodium.

Glycogen Replenishment: Vinegar, which is chemically known as acetic acid, can provide the acetyl group. This is a fundamental building block for the Krebs Cycle and helps to metabolize carbohydrates and fat to produce energy and ATP for cells. 

If you’re prone to cramps bring a bottle of pickle juice or packet of mustard to your next training session or race. Consume them at the first sign of cramps and you might be able to keep training or racing and full speed.

Kelli Jennings, RD and sports nutritionist, is the owner of Apex Nutrition, LLC.

Originally Published: https://www.active.com/nutrition/articles/why-every-athlete-should-have-pickle-juice

The Science Behind Everyone’s New Obsession With Pickle Juice

By Lana Bandoim | Forbes Contributor | Sep 21, 2018

From deep-fried pickles to dill pickle chips, pickles in different varieties are showing up on more menus and grocery store shelves. At the Natural Products Expo East, the trend continued this year with the Pickle Juice Company featuring pickle juice sports drinks. There are many reasons why this salty trend is not going away soon.

Walk through the aisles of today’s grocery store, and you will probably see pickles featured in several places, in addition to the canned goods section. You can pick up a bag of pickle popcorn, grab some dill pickle chips and maybe try the frozen pickle pops. Now, pickle juice is growing in popularity, and even Sonic released a pickle juice slush. You no longer have to purchase a jar of pickles to get the juice since it is sold on its own in a variety of forms. You can find pickle juice sports drinks, shots and alcohol.

By 2020, Statista’s prediction, based on U.S. Census data and Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS), is that 245.56 million Americans will eat pickles. Likewise, Technavio’s report shows that the global pickles market will continue to grow and will have a value of $12.74 billion by 2020. In the United States, it is expected to have a value of $6.70 billion by 2020.

The reasons why you crave salty foods, like pickles, can vary. Similar to sugar, salt can be addictive, and researchers at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health found the brain pathway responsible for the craving. They discovered that a specific circuit, which is part of the brain’s opioid system, can also make you want salt. In addition, you can build a tolerance to salty foods, so you need more of them to activate the reward center of the brain.

Some other common reasons for craving pickles include dehydration, electrolyte imbalances or Addison’s disease. Pregnant women often want pickles because nausea and morning sickness can also make them dehydrated. All of these medical conditions can make you turn to salty foods or pickle juice as a way to restore the electrolyte imbalance in the body.

There is a positive side to the current pickle juice obsession. For years, athletes have been drinking pickle juice to relieve muscle cramps after exercising, and it is one of the multiple health benefits. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that pickle juice works better than water at reducing muscle cramps. Another study showed that pickle juice could lower blood sugar spikes in healthy adults. In addition, pickle juice has a variety of antioxidants, including vitamin C and E.

Here is another reason why you may have a hard time resisting pickle juice: Your digestive system benefits from it, so you feel better after drinking it. The juice contains vinegar, which is fermented, and good for your gut. Researchers also found that pickle juice can slow down gastric emptying.

If you do not have any health problems and can tolerate salt, then do not feel guilty about drinking pickle juice in moderation.

Originally Published: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lanabandoim/2018/09/21/the-science-behind-everyones-new-obsession-with-pickle-juice/

Jay Ajayi

The unusual ‘sports drink’ and other tricks football players use to beat the heat during early-season games

John Roach | AccuWeather | Sep 24, 2019, 10:50 AM

The NFL is a notorious copycat league with each team “borrowing” whatever works from other teams. So it was no surprise to see the Philadelphia Eagles throw shade, of sorts, on its own players seated on the bench during Sunday’s game in Philly. As the players took a break, team staffers shielded them from the sun with what looked to be the closest thing handy.

Their opponent, the Detroit Lions, was one step ahead, already using canopies they’d brought with them to give their players a break from the sun. Temperatures in Philadelphia reached an in-game high of 88 degrees with an AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature high of 90.

Lions staff members held the sideline canopies Sunday, something they did in 2018 when the team beat the unrelenting heat and the Miami Dolphins. “I felt a notable difference – as far as temperature-wise – when you were underneath them,” Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford told The Detroit News.

It was a trick Lions coach Matt Patricia passed on to his friend, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, this summer and Belichick’s Patriots did the same thing against the Dolphins this season in Week 2. The Patriots won 43-0 in a game the coach and quarterback Tom Brady each considered the hottest game either could remember.

The effects of heat hit home for the NFL this summer when 32-year-old former NFL player Mitch Petrus died of heatstroke after working outside all day in 90-degree heat in Little Rock, Arkansas, where the AccuWeather RealFeel temperature hit 101 that day. The AccuWeather RealFeel Temperature Guide advises caution at that temperature, warning of the danger of dehydration, heatstroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps if outside for extended periods, and especially while doing strenuous activities.

The NFL sent a video to all 32 teams this summer that reviewed best practices for treating exertional heatstroke. “It is imperative that medical personnel and coaching staffs quickly recognize [the signs of heatstroke] and initiate appropriate care,” said Dr. Douglas J. Casa, CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI), in a press release. KSI was founded after Stringer, a Pro Bowl lineman for Minnesota, died of heatstroke in August of 2001.

NFL teams have an array of options to beat the heat during training camps in the summer and even when high temperatures carry into September’s regular season games. Water, Gatorade, orange wedges, Pedialyte, salt pills, pickle juice, and intravenous fluids are among items used to varying degrees by NFL teams.

Wait, pickle juice?

That hydration trick perhaps was first used during the hottest NFL game in history, the 2000 season opener on Sept. 3 between the Eagles and the host Dallas Cowboys. It was 109 degrees at kickoff and Dallas lost a dozen players to heat cramps; the Eagles lost no one.

Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder credited Steve Condon, a college trainer who interned with the Eagles that summer, with the idea. Burkholder studied weather reports all week in advance of the Dallas game and had the team load up on water and sports drinks during practice. On Sunday, he doled out pickle juice, which subsequently was proven scientifically to be more beneficial than water.

“I was worried they might get sick drinking that stuff,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said at the time. “But a lot of them liked it, whatever that says about them.”

Former Eagles running back Jay Ajayi was spotted gulping pickle juice on the sideline while playing for Boise State University in 2014 and spoke about its benefits at the time: “It’s something that allowed me to stay in the games and kept me from cramping and it was very productive for me in seeing my games from 2013 to 2014 when I started using it.” Ajayi added that drinking pickle juice was a hydration strategy he planned to bring with him to the NFL.

Today’s precautions and preparations are a far cry from what football players did decades ago. “When I played high school football, it was taboo to drink water,” Alabama High School Athletic Association Executive Director Steve Savarese told AccuWeather. “We used to take salt pills, we didn’t drink water, and we wore long-sleeve shirts. I don’t know how we survived … Coaches today are much more educated and much better at what they do than years ago.”

So where might NFL’s copycats break out the pickle juice, Pedialyte or canopies this Sunday?

Three games played in potentially heat-impacted areas will take place under retractable domes that likely will be closed so that the air conditioning can do its thing: Tennessee at Atlanta, Carolina at Houston and Seattle at Arizona.

Three others could bring temperature-related troubles, with the Los Angeles Chargers at Miami at 1 p.m. ET, where AccuWeather forecasts a high of 86 with a RealFeel of 93. Cleveland will visit Baltimore at 1 p.m. ET, where the forecast calls for 85 degrees with a RealFeel of 90 and it will be very warm and humid. And Jacksonville will travel to Denver at 2:25 p.m. MT where it will be 81 with a RealFeel of 82.

Originally Published: https://sports.yahoo.com/pickle-juice-pedialyte-throwing-shade-145039354.html