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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

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/

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.

Get Pikl'ed

Pickle juice is a big dill for athletes. Here’s why they’re chugging it

By CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN | SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL | DEC 03, 2019

Runners at the Palm Beaches marathon next weekend will be greeted at the finish line with packets of pickle juice. St. Thomas Aquinas High School football players are handed pickle juice pouches when they come out of a game, to help them prepare to go back in.

But the question is: Is the pungent green liquid really a magic elixir?

Long touted as a natural, low-calorie alternative, to sugary sports drinks, pickle juice received recent endorsements from athletes such as professional hockey player Blake Coleman and American tennis player Frances Tiafoe, creating a buzz with claims that it stops muscles from cramping.

Michael Kahn, a Fort Lauderdale financial adviser and marathon runner, drinks a pouch of pickle juice before he sets out on his daily run. “This is such a high concentration of sodium that it gives me what I need for the next few hours of running,” he said.

The dill-flavored liquid that most pickle lovers toss out contains sodium and potassium, and people drink it to replace electrolytes lost when sweating. The strong smell and taste of pickle juice makes gulping it hard for some people to tolerate. But the appeal is that pickle juice is thought to hydrate the body faster and keep it that way longer than plain water.

Researchers have found another health benefit, too. Pickle juice may trigger a reflex in the mouth that sends a signal to the nerves to stop muscles from cramping. This reaction is why athletes are drinking pickle juice at the onset of a cramp.

“Pickle juice is sour, pungent, bitter, and those things may trigger a reflex that signals to relax the muscle,” says Marilyn Gordon, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and associate professor at Nova Southeastern University Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine. “That is a different way of looking at the ideology of muscle cramping. Rather than hydration, they are looking at it from a nervous system perspective.”

“Compared with Gatorade or other sports drinks, there’s little that supports pickle juice as any better,” Gordon says, “but if you talk to people subjectively, they will say it helps them.”

At the same time, pickle juice — in larger quantities — could actually be unhealthy for some people. The high sodium level could be dangerous for people with high blood pressure or on sodium-restrictive diets.

Kevin Miller, a professor in Central Michigan University’s Department of Athletic Training, has been studying the health benefits of pickle juice for more than a decade. Miller has completed nine research studies and still has questions he wants to explore about the effects of pickle juice on the body.

Miller’s studies found 2 to 3 shot glasses of pickle juice will make a cramp go away faster, but it won’t necessarily replace electrolytes quickly.

“What we still don’t know is whether it is an ingredient in pickle juice such as vinegar that triggers the reflex,” he said.

While research continues, Kahn, the runner, swears by the brine. A running back coach for the St. Thomas Aquinas football team, he has given pickle juice pouches to the trainers to help players with cramping.

“Some kids would cramp and they wouldn’t be able to go back in the game,” Kahn said. “This is one of the choices to give them and it works. There are powders or pills, but this seems more natural and gets to their muscles much quicker than other things.”

In South Florida, Jay Churba’s Get Pikl’ed brand is tapping into the trend, selling kosher dill pickle juice in soft pouches — just unscrew the plastic cap and sip. Churba says the pouches also can be frozen and eaten like a popsicle.

“It is a bit of an acquired taste,” Churba admits. But because people are increasingly concerned about what goes into their bodies, Churba believes his option to sugary sports drinks is gaining fans. “Gatorade is engineered; ours is made in a pickle factory, and we sift out the pickles and sediment.”

The secret ingredient, he says, is Bronx water. The cucumber is never added.

Claims about the benefit of pickle juice go beyond athletes. The vinegary liquid contains antioxidants and vitamins C and E. In addition, the vinegar found in pickle juice can help lower blood sugar levels and relieve stomach aches. Fermented pickles that soak up the brine have health benefits, too.

Churba launched Get Pikl’ed in December 2018 after seeing the rise in health and, of course, social uses.

In bars, an increasingly favored drink is a pickleback — a shot of whiskey chased by a shot of pickle brine. “By selling pouches, bartenders don’t have to kill a jar of pickles to get the same amount of juice,” Churba says.

The internet is full of recipes for how pickle brine can be used as a chaser with whiskey, in cocktails such as martinis, or to help alcohol-induced hangovers. Along with pouches, pickle juice now comes in cans, bottles and jugs.

And buying the whole jar is an option, too, pickles included.

Cindy Krischer Goodman can be reached at cgoodman@sunsentinel.com, 954-356-4661, Twitter and Instagram @cindykgoodman

Originally Published: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/health/fl-ne-pickle-juice-health-20191203-keqd2qlnmbfr3pwlrvtkyngx4q-story.html