golden raisins and gin, gin soaked raisins, gin-raisin remedy

Q. I am getting tired of reading about raisins and gin for arthritis. Surely you know that arthritis is a serious condition that shouldn’t be treated with home remedies. How can you propose something that doesn’t have scientific validity?

A. It is true that there are no double-blind, placebo-controlled trials for gin-soaked raisins. Nevertheless, we have heard from many people who have found this remedy helpful. Here is one example:

“I had heard about raisins and gin before for arthritis pain, but upon reading your column I offered it to my husband. He has arthritis in his neck from soft tissue damage and a recent whiplash.

“Although before starting this remedy he was taking Tylenol and Advil like candy, he’s actually had pill-free days with the gin-soaked raisins! The jokes are endless, but the results are definitely there.”

We know that such anecdotes do not carry any weight with skeptics. On the other hand, you might be surprised at the lack of science to support the benefits of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for arthritis. A scientific analysis of 23 different studies was published in the British Medical Journal in 2004. This “meta-analysis” involved more than 10,000 patients and revealed a shocking discovery:

“NSAIDs can reduce short-term pain in osteoarthritis of the knee slightly better than placebo, but the current analysis does not support prolonged use of NSAIDs for this condition. As serious adverse effects are associated with oral NSAIDs, only limited use can be recommended.”

Another analysis of NSAID use (Rheumatology, Oct. 2000) found that short term improvement over 4 weeks could be detected. The researchers concluded, however, that:

“Our results do not show long-term benefits from the use of NSAIDs in OA [osteoarthritis] and the majority of patients had persisting pain and disability despite therapy.”

So, despite the belief that both prescription and OTC pain relievers work to ease the pain and disability of arthritis, the scientific validity (to quote our skeptic) of such treatment is lacking. Arthritis lasts a lot longer than four weeks. It is a chronic condition that can persist for decades. That is why we are always on the lookout for safer alternatives. Despite the anecdotal nature of the reports we get, we think that the relief people share with us and our visitors is real. Here are just a few more stories from real folks:

“We were visiting family up in Oregon, and my sister-in-law showed me your book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies: Q&As for Your Common Ailments. She tried the raisins steeped in gin for an arthritic shoulder, and it worked wonders for her. While visiting, I tried the “magic raisins” for my aching knee and was delighted when the pain disappeared after two days’ of dosing with the raisins. I would like to buy a copy of your book. Please tell me how to obtain it.”

We are astonished that some people get relief so quickly. Most individuals report gradual improvement over 6 to 8 weeks. Of course not everyone benefits. But that is also true of ibuprofen, naproxen, indomethacine or diclofenac. Anyone who would like to know more about our book and other publications can find information at this link.

“Recently sent $2.00 check for your pamphlet re: gin-soaked raisins and Alternative Treatments for Arthritis. Since reading your article in the newspaper, I have used your remedy daily. It’s difficult for me to believe, in a way, but I do seem better, and in fact, on the third day, there was no leg pain at all. And, of course, the added joy–no upset stomach. What a relief that is. I’d been using Celebrex for over two years and before, years of diclofenac and other NSAIDs. Anyway, I do have a question that perhaps you can answer. (Perhaps it will be in the pamphlet, but thought I’d ask now):

“Should I just put a handful of the golden raisins in a dish, pour over gin and let evaporate, and then use them until they are gone, or would it be better to prepare daily? I covered the dish with plastic wrap and am using them up now. Would they be more effective if freshly made? Thank you for your many hints that have been helpful over the years, and your help now. L.V.

“P.S. I am an R.N. and have worked in public health, and recognize the value of herbal remedies, as do many M.D.s and D.O.s I know.”

Most people make up a batch, put them in a glass container (they don’t have to be refrigerated but can be) and eat nine daily. For anyone who would like more information on gin-soaked raisins and other nondrug approaches to arthritis pain, we offer our various publications with details on preparation and use. Here is a link to learn more.

Share your own raisin remedy experience below or tell us how you have made out with other approaches for arthritis.

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  1. Sophia

    Golden raisins and Gordon’s London Dry Gin. I read somewhere that juniper berries and sulfites are natural anti-inflammation home remedies. Probably not enough alcohol in 9 little raisins to even register on a breathalyzer test, but my sister is an overly religious Baptist and would rather hurt than try anything with alcohol. Most of it evaporates anyway. Can’t feel too sorry for her. No injections in knees for a year. I walk and keep my weight around 130 pounds. I’m retired, my knee problems started almost two years ago. One day I was fine, the next day my knee popped and I hobbled around for two weeks.

  2. Phebe

    We made up a batch about 6 years ago, in a jar with a lid on it. We have never eaten any, nor have we opened the jar. Would there be any reason to not try them now?

  3. Barbara
    Stillwater, OK (74074)

    I am a caregiver of an elderly lady with arthritis of the knee and hip. She is concerned that the amount of alcohol in the gin & raisin remedy may have adverse effects with her medications. Is this amount of alcohol going to cause her problems?

    • Laura
      Thunder Bay

      I put the raisins in a glass jar, cover with gin, leave the lid loose or open to allow for the gin to evaporate 7-10 days. Close the jar once a day and turn upside down until everything is coated in the syrup and re-open, after 7-10 days there usually ready

  4. SherryT

    I use Gordon’s London dry gin. It says 100% grain neutral spirits. Does not say juniper berries but has pics of them going down both sides of label. Takes away the pain I have from arthritis. One knee needs to be replaced and the other replaced twice. My doc is most surprised that neither one is swollen anymore. He wondered why he always felt better after playing golf and having a gin and tonic. I also take them for multiple disc problems. I have less pain. If you don’t love raisins, sloe gin has the same juniper effects. I’d rather eat the raisins.

  5. alan

    can’t really say I enjoy, or even like gin, but my spondylitis is getting worse, so . . .

  6. Mignon

    To Ron: I have no “dog in this race” either; it looks like perhaps you have not followed these discussions since the ‘beginning’. Meaning, there was a debate over what the ‘magic ingredient’ in this recipe might be; nobody knows. So, the questions went around … is it the juniper berries (in those gin brands that DO have it), or is it the sulphur in the sultana raisins. So now you can see the significance of the juniper berries plus ‘herbs’ that certain gins are made of – and it is NOT those that are “distilled from 100% grains”.
    Anyway, I repeat my request here: would those people who have had success with the gin and raisins recipe please post the GIN BRAND they used, so that others might repeat their success. I myself have used this recipe for over a year now, using gin “distilled from 100% grain” and have had moderate success with it, but wonder whether I might have greater improvement in reduction of pain/stiffness if I used the much more expensive juniper berries/herbs gin.

    • Sherry

      From all of my research, I found these three brand name gins to contain true juniper berries and those who have experienced significant relief of pain have also suggested using one of these brands:

      1) Bombay Sapphire
      2) Gordon’s Gin
      3) Junípero (produced by Anchor Distilling Company)

      Hope this helps!

  7. joan

    Wondering how you got around, to bathroom etc after having both knees done at the same time. I too have bone on bone and have been getting shots every 3 months for a few years now. I am really afraid to get this done but shots are not lasting and they are not good for you. Any thoughts? I have tried the gin raisin thing and am now trying tart cherry concentrate.

  8. geno0508

    To Joe and Terry.
    Love your web site and look forward to reading the many cures and helpful hints from your readers. Bought your book and it is the bible in our house and sits on the table for easy access as soon as a medical problem arises.
    Putting the Gin and Raisins on my daughters list of things to try. I hope they help he, if not guess what? at least we tried and will at least be a happy drunk. Just joking of course.
    Bone on bone has to be replaced with a knee replacement. I had both knee’s done and best thing I ever did but if it gives relief to some of us then whats wrong with that?
    My children have all learned from me that doctors, not intentionally, will kill you with all their book learning put out by big Pharma’s meds having never taken the time to read all the side effects….
    To all of you out there that are smart enough to treat yourself first with a little searching for natural cures and don’t be afraid to try them. What you should be afraid of is what you see on TV and what your doctor is pushing. They almost killed a good friend of mine treating her PAD problem.. BEWARE…

  9. Gary K.

    I have been on and off of the gin soaked raisins for over 12 years. Every time I go off my my knees start hurting within a week When I go back on they stop hurting within a week. I call them my Drunk Raisins. I take a spoon full morning and night. They really do work. It is not an over night thing. Start taking them and then in less than a month you just realize you have NO More Pain. Go off off them and the pain returns. It is a NO Brainer It works and with NO Side effects and is cheap. I put them in a wide mouth jar with a lid on them so they stay plump and make up a couple of weeks worth at a time.
    Don’t take my word for it try it yourself for a month if you want to be pain free. Yes My knees still pop and snap when I get up but the continuous pain is gone.

  10. Noah V.

    I am using the WalMart Golden Raisins, which seem smaller and less plump than the Sun Maid… so I eat about 12-15.
    But I do it at night because our local police are very strict.
    They are sort of a reward for getting through the day.

  11. Karen

    The alcohol content comes from the grain. It’s the “taste” part–what makes gin different from vodka–that is the juniper berries. Clearly, something comes over in the distillation process when they throw a handful of real juniper berries into the fermenting grain, than what you get when they put a drop or 10 of “essence of juniper” in the distilled liquid before bottling.
    Would be interesting to know if juniper berry tea had a similar effect.
    From If you are pregnant, do not consume juniper berries as this could cause you to miscarry. Also, juniper berry can interact with lithium, so people using this medication should avoid consuming these berries.
    Read more:

  12. Ron

    mignon: I have no dog in the fight over what might be in the Gin, and as there is no science that I am aware of regarding the actual active ingredients in this folk remedy, but there are a large number of anecdotal descriptions of ‘the cure’ for people who describe their condition as painful joints and follow some variation of eating raisins soaked in gin or in one case Apple Cider Vinegar, a new one for me, I will say “Whatever works for you” is the right way to do it.
    I will note that I notice Tanqueray and tonic is really nice compared to regular gin, or it might have been the sailboats at the yacht club. Enjoy and be free of pain my friend.
    As for definitions, here you go:
    CFR 5.22(9)(c) defines the product labeled as gin in the US (I am assuming that you are living and buying Gin in the US) as follows:
    (c) Class 3; gin. “Gin” is a product obtained by original distillation from mash, or by redistillation of distilled spirits, or by mixing neutral spirits, with or over juniper berries and other aromatics, or with or over extracts derived from infusions, percolations, or maceration of such materials, and includes mixtures of gin and neutral spirits. It shall derive its main characteristic flavor from juniper berries and be bottled at not less than 80° proof. Gin produced exclusively by original distillation or by redistillation may be further designated as “distilled”. “Dry gin” (London dry gin), “Geneva gin” (Hollands gin), and “Old Tom gin” (Tom gin) are types of gin known under such designations.

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