Q. I keep reading in your column that gin-soaked raisins are good for arthritis because of the juniper flavoring in the gin. Why not dispense with the raisins and gin and just eat juniper berries?
A. No one knows why some people seem to benefit from the “raisin remedy.” Speculation ranges from the sulfite preservative in golden raisins to the juniper flavoring of the gin. Be sure to buy gin that contains juniper berries rather than artificial flavoring.
We would discourage eating handfuls of juniper berries, though. There are dozens of species of juniper. Although some of the berries have anti-inflammatory activity (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Sept. 7, 2009), other species have berries that are toxic.
Anyone who would like to know more about the gin-raisin remedy will find details in our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis.