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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

Pickle Juice Detox Benefits: Detoxification Using Pickle Juice Diet

Published September 26, 2010 by Nick

We have to cleanse our body by getting rid of the toxins that have slowly built up their way inside. It is a fact that toxins are ingested in our bodies regularly through the food that we take in. As much as we want it, they have began piling up inside which is the cause of most illnesses.

Detoxifying the body is accomplished by flushing toxins out with excessive urination. It can be valuable at rejuvenating the body and making it easier for the body to absorb beneficial nutrients.

There are a variety of natural recipes and tips for detoxifying and cleansing the total body.

Pickle juice is not at the top of the list. It is a very questionable method. There are claims that pickle juice benefits in treating gout by breaking up calcium deposits. Other claims say pickle juice helps arthritis and will remove THC from the body of marijuana users.

Pickle Juice Diet Benefits For Detoxification

Pickle juice is a known sports drink. It is effective in reducing athlete’s cramps in whatever sport. More and more sports players have been seen using pickle juice rather than the popular “ade” drinks: Gatorade and Powerade. It is also for the drinkers because it is known to be a great hangover reliever.

Recently, pickle juice has been recognized as a detox drink. It fills in to what the body has lost and what the body actually needs. There have been testimonies that pickle juice actually made them feel better, although the taste proves to be a challenge. Well, don’t mind the taste because it will make you become a whole lot better.

  • It is not advisable to drink as much pickle juice as you would need to adequately remove all the poisons and wastes from your system.
  • A pickle juice detox could be harmful to your system because it has a high salt content and vinegar is the main ingredient. Never initiate a detox program such as this without the advice of a doctor.
  • Patients with kidney or heart problems, especially, could really do themselves harm. A person with hypertension could sent their blood pressure through the roof with high quantity of salt and vinegar.
  • Natural drinks like green tea, cranberry juice, or lemon water can help to flush the system out regularly.
  • At least there is some antioxidant powers in the green tea and the urinary antiseptic property of the cranberry juice. These beverages certainly won’t hurt you in quantity.
  • Don’t take chances with any detox agents that contain harmful ingredients when taken in massive amounts. Take time to discuss the facts about detoxifying your body with a licensed professional.
  • It is not wise to try new trends without researching all you can about the process involved and how it could hurt you.

Originally Published: https://www.tandurust.com/diet/pickle-juice-detox.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

Gastric emptying after pickle-juice ingestion in rested, euhydrated humans.

More research for our science buffs!

J Athl Train. 2010 Nov-Dec;45(6):601-8. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-45.6.601.
Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58108- 6050, USA. kevin.c.miller@ndsu.edu

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Small volumes of pickle juice (PJ) relieve muscle cramps within 85 seconds of ingestion without significantly affecting plasma variables. This effect may be neurologic rather than metabolic. Understanding PJ’s gastric emptying would help to strengthen this theory.

OBJECTIVE:

To compare gastric emptying and plasma variables after PJ and deionized water (DIW) ingestion.

DESIGN:

Crossover study.

SETTING:

Laboratory.

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS:

Ten men (age  =  25.4 ± 0.7 years, height  =  177.1 ± 1.6 cm, mass  =  78.1 ± 3.6 kg).

INTERVENTION(S):

Rested, euhydrated, and eunatremic participants ingested 7 mL·kg⁻¹ body mass of PJ or DIW on separate days.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S):

Gastric volume was measured at 0, 5, 10, 20, and 30 minutes postingestion (using the phenol red dilution technique). Percentage changes in plasma volume and plasma sodium concentration were measured preingestion (-45 minutes) and at 5, 10, 20, and 30 minutes postingestion.

RESULTS:

Initial gastric volume was 624.5 ± 27.4 mL for PJ and 659.5 ± 43.8 mL for DIW (P > .05). Both fluids began to empty within the first 5 minutes (volume emptied: PJ  =  219.2 ± 39.1 mL, DIW  =  305.0 ± 40.5 mL, P < .05). Participants who ingested PJ did not empty further after the first 5 minutes (P > .05), whereas in those who ingested DIW, gastric volume decreased to 111.6 ± 39.9 mL by 30 minutes (P < .05). The DIW group emptied faster than the PJ group between 20 and 30 minutes postingestion (P < .05). Within 5 minutes of PJ ingestion, plasma volume decreased 4.8% ± 1.6%, whereas plasma sodium concentration increased 1.6 ± 0.5 mmol·L⁻¹ (P < .05). Similar changes occurred after DIW ingestion. Calculated plasma sodium content was unchanged for both fluids (P > .05).

CONCLUSIONS:

The initial decrease in gastric volume with both fluids is likely attributable to gastric distension. Failure of the PJ group to empty afterward is likely due to PJ’s osmolality and acidity. Cardiovascular reflexes resulting from gastric distension are likely responsible for the plasma volume shift and rise in plasma sodium concentration despite nonsignificant changes in plasma sodium content. These data support our theory that PJ does not relieve cramps via a metabolic mechanism.

Why Runners Should Drink Pickle Juice

You’ve seen others doing it and cringed—but there are good reasons this salty beverage it make its rounds

By Fara Rosenzweig | 01/07/2016

Move over coconut water, there’s a new beverage taking center stage: pickle juice.

Yes, pickle lover’s rejoice! You may have had to defend your love for the stuff in the past, but you may be ahead of the curve.

A number of studies have confirmed that pickle brine might be more effective than sports drinks at treating muscle cramps. One study from the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Science at North Dakota State University found that athletes who drank the brine noticed the cramps were gone within 85 seconds—about 37 percent faster than water drinkers and 45 percent faster than those who didn’t drink anything at all.

“Pickle Juice Sport is an effective, all-natural recipe made with key ingredients that are scientifically proven to block the neurological signal that triggers muscle cramps,” says Filip Keuppens, Director of Sales and Marketing for The Pickle Juice Company.

The secret? Vinegar. Researchers believe that pickle juice relieves cramps because the acetic acid (vinegar) triggers a reflex shortly after ingestion, which reduces alpha motor neuron activity to cramping muscles. In other words, vinegar sends a signal to the brain to tell the muscles to stop contracting and relax.

Beyond cramping, pickle juice provides a number of other benefits for athletes.

Hydration: Runners sweat out a lot of salt. When sodium levels drop, so does your thirst, which leads to dehydration—bad news. Sipping on 2 ounces of pickle juice can provide 200 mg of sodium, which can replenish the body’s lost fluids and prevent dehydration. Those who run for more than two hours should consider sipping on pickle juice mid-run to keep hydrated.

Hangover cure: We all indulge every now and then. And we certainly regret it the next day with the pounding headache. Hangovers are a result of dehydration. As mentioned above, pickle juice provides sodium that can replenish the body, quenching our thirst. Downing pickle juice after a night of vino can help rid the dreaded headache. Combine it with water to speed up the recover.

Restore energy: After an intense workout your mind and body are depleted. Your energy levels are at a low. To give yourself a re-boost you need to restore exhausted glycogen levels (low carbohydrates). Pickle juice is rich in acetic acid, or vinegar, which can help metabolize carbohydrates to restore energy.

Originally Published: https://www.womensrunning.com/2016/01/nutrition/the-cure-youve-never-heard-of-for-muscle-cramps_52423

Drinking Pickle Juice: 10 Reasons It’s All the Rage

Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD on May 3, 2016 — Written by Alli Rainey

At first, drinking pickle juice might sound kind of gross. But there are several reasons to consider it.

Athletes have been sipping this briny beverage for years. Experts didn’t know all the reasons why pickle juice was good to drink after exercising. They just knew that it seemed to help relieve cramps.

They were right. It appears to help with muscle cramps, plus more. Here’s a look at 10 healthy benefits of drinking pickle juice.

1. It soothes muscle cramps

Dehydrated men experienced faster relief from muscle cramps after drinking pickle juice, according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

About 1/3 cup of pickle juice is all it took to have this effect. Pickle juice relieved cramps more than drinking the same amount of water. It also helped more than drinking nothing at all.

This could be because the vinegar in pickle juice may help with rapid pain relief. Vinegar may help stop nerve signals that make tired muscles cramp.

2. It helps you stay hydrated

For most people, drinking water for hydration after a workout is fine. Water is probably all you need if you’re exercising moderately or for an hour or less.

But it’s a different story if you’re exercising hard, exercising for longer than an hour at a time, or exercising in hot climates.

Drinking something with sodium and potassium can help you get hydrated faster. Sodium is an electrolyte that you lose when you sweat. Potassium is another electrolyte lost in sweat.

Pickle juice contains a lot of sodium. It also has some potassium. After a sweaty or lengthy exercise session, sipping some pickle juice can help your body recover to its normal electrolyte levels more quickly.

Watching your sodium intake or on a low-sodium diet? Be sure to check with your doctor and dietitian about pickle juice before drinking it.

3. It’s a fat-free recovery aid

If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably not too psyched about consuming high-calorie sports drinks.

It’s still a good plan to replace lost electrolytes after exercising hard, for a long time, or in hot weather. Plus, if your muscles are cramping, you’ll probably want relief as fast as possible.

Pickle juice to the rescue! Pickle juice contains no fat, but it can have some calories. It can have anywhere from zero to 100 calories per 1-cup serving. The amount of calories depends on what’s in the pickling solution.

4. It won’t bust your budget

If you already eat pickles regularly, you don’t have to spend money on sports drinks. Even if you don’t eat pickles, you can still choose pickle juice as a budget-friendly alternative to more expensive workout beverages.

You can also buy commercially prepared pickle juices marketed as sports drinks. They cost more than drinking what’s left in your pickle jar when all the pickles are gone. The upside is that you’ll know from reading the nutrition label what you’re getting in each serving.

5. It contains antioxidants

Pickle juice has significant amounts of vitamins C and E, two key antioxidants. Antioxidants help shield your body from damaging molecules called free radicals. Everyone gets exposed to free radicals, so having plenty of antioxidants in your diet is a good idea.

Vitamins C and E also help boost your immune system function, among other roles they play in your body.

6. It may support your weight loss efforts

Pickle juice contains lots of vinegar. Consuming a little bit of vinegar every day may help you lose weight, as reported in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry.

After 12 weeks, study participants who had consumed either about 1/2 ounce or 1 ounce of vinegar daily had lost more weight and fat than those who hadn’t consumed any vinegar.

7. It helps control blood sugar levels

A study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research showed the effects of consuming a small serving of vinegar before a meal. The vinegar helped regulate blood sugar levels after the meal in people with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is associated with being overweight and obese.

Well-regulated blood sugar levels help keep you healthy. Lots of people have type 2 diabetes and don’t know it. Unregulated blood sugar can cause serious health problems such as blindness, heart damage, and kidney damage.

8. It boosts gut health

The vinegar in pickle juice can help your belly stay healthy, too. Vinegar is a fermented food. Fermented foods are good for your digestive system. They encourage the growth and healthy balance of good bacteria and flora in your gut.

9. Dill is healthy

Choose dill pickle juice for more potential benefits. Dill has quercetin in it. Quercetin has cholesterol-lowering properties. A study published in Cholesterol found that dill lowered cholesterol in hamsters. It may have a similar effect in humans.

The study’s authors also mentioned that dill has many traditional medicinal uses. These include treating:

  • indigestion
  • stomach cramps
  • gas
  • other digestive ailments

10. It sweetens your breath

Even if it makes your lips pucker when you drink it, a little bit of pickle juice might make for sweeter breath.

Bacteria in your mouth can cause bad breath. Both dill and vinegar have antibacterial properties. This potent combination may help freshen your breath after you drink pickle juice.

Next steps

Instead of dumping that leftover liquid from your pickle jar down the drain, consider saving it for future use.

You might even find yourself enjoying the salty flavor. Things can taste differently after you exercise than they do normally. So even if pickle juice doesn’t sound amazing right now, maybe it will hit the spot after your next workout.

Even if you don’t ever love the taste, you may end up deciding that drinking pickle juice is worth it for the health benefits.

Originally Published: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/drinking-pickle-juice

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