certo and grape juice

Q. I have been reading in your newspaper column that mixing Certo with grape juice will ease arthritis pain and lower cholesterol.

What the heck is Certo, where would I find it and how much do you put in grape juice? How does this concoction differ from another folk remedy that involves grape juice, apple juice and apple cider vinegar?

What is the theory behind why such remedies might work? I am sure others, like me, would appreciate some background information about the mechanism behind these approaches.

A. The very first time we heard about the “purple pectin remedy” was in 1998. That was when we published this exchange in our syndicated newspaper column:


Q. My wife and I tried golden raisins and gin for arthritis and we were unimpressed. We have discovered something else, though, that seems to work for us.

Take two teaspoons of Certo dissolved in three ounces of grape juice. Do this three times a day. We have been told to cut back to one teaspoon Certo in grape juice twice a day after the joints quit aching.

We buy Certo in the grocery store near the canning jars. It’s simple and cheap and seems to be helping. I am on Coumadin (warfarin) so I can’t take anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil or Aleve.

Our answer on March 2, 1998:

A. Certo contains pectin, a natural ingredient found in the cell walls of plants. It is used as a thickening agent in jams, jellies and puddings. Grapefruit pectin has been used to lower cholesterol, but this is the first we’ve heard of using pectin for arthritis pain. Though there is no scientific evidence to suggest it would be helpful against sore joints, it does seem safe. We welcome comments from readers.


Since that day we have received an extraordinary number of positive responses from readers of our column, listeners to our nationally distributed public radio show and visitors to this website. Apparently the remedy dates back to the 1940s. We have included just a few stories at the bottom of this post.

How Does This Remedy Work?

As for the mechanism, we can only speculate. Pectin has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood sugar (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May, 2012). It may also have anticancer activity.

Grape juice contains antioxidant polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds also dilate blood vessels and improve circulation. They may enhance immune function.

We wish researchers would investigate the reason why the combination of Certo and grape juice might work to ease arthritis pain. Ditto for grape juice, apple cider vinegar and apple juice. By the way, the latter recipe is attributed to Sam Houston, although we could not document he actually had anything to do with it.

Can Certo and Grape Juice be Dangerous?

There are several formulas to choose from when preparing Certo and grape juice. We discourage people from making large batches, in part because of a warning about benzene formation caused by a chemical reaction between the preservative sodium benzoate and citric or ascorbic acid. To read more about this concern, check out this article: Does Arthritis Remedy from the Grocery (Certo & Grape Juice) Create Benzene?

Small batches made fresh should pose little, if any, concern. Powdered pectin (Pomona’s Universal Pectin) is made from citrus fruit peel and contains no preservatives or additives and therefore should eliminate any worry.

How To Whip Up This Remedy in Your Kitchen

The video we have provided will give you details on how to prepare the purple pectin remedy as well as the grape juice, apple juice and apple cider vinegar formula. We would love to find out whether either of these approaches helps you, so please share your thoughts below.

Readers share their experiences:

“I read the posts concerning Certo and grape juice. I was having excruciating pain through my metatarsal area and great difficulty walking. After two weeks of using Certo and grape juice, my feet are free of pain.  Why is this remedy not better studied and more widely known?” Jaquish

“I’ve been meaning to write you a few lines for years, ever since my husband gave me your article about an alternative to arthritis drugs, recommending grape juice and pectin. I gave the info to my sister in England, as she was suffering from hip problems.

“It has helped her enormously, and she takes it faithfully every morning. She has also passed the info to several other friends and neighbors. Others have told my sister to say how grateful they are for the help and what a difference it has made to them.” Esme

“I know you have put information on the home remedy grape juice and pectin on your web site, and in your book Best Choices from The People’s Pharmacy. My purpose in writing is to share my extraordinary results as an encouragement for you to keep spreading the word so others might benefit.

“I am now sixty years old. I have had no cartilage in my right knee since 1967.  Over twenty five years ago my osteoarthritis was confirmed by x-ray. I have had a very active life style: running over 30,000 miles, playing basketball (twice weekly for 40 years) and walking one to three miles daily.

“In the last several years my osteoarthritis symptoms worsened, and I had to wear a leg brace for over three years. I have had to use a cane for the last eighteen months.  Pain was continuous, and the swelling of the knee was significant. I had difficulty sleeping, and started considering a total knee replacement procedure.

“A business associate mentioned that some friends had found relief from their osteoarthritis by using a home remedy. The remedy:  each morning take two teaspoons, by mouth, of liquid pectin in four to six ounces of grape juice. The brand I use is by KRAFT FOODS, and carries the trade name Certo. It is commonly used to make fruit jams, and jellies at home.

“My results:  within eight (8) hours my pain  and soreness diminished to almost zero;  swelling was reduced significantly; and I slept all night without interruption for the first time in years; I stopped using the leg brace, and cane that first day. These positive results have continued every single day since starting the regimen.

“I have no idea if I am one of a very lucky select few that can benefit from this remedy, or if it would have the same effect on most osteoarthritis-affected persons.  I wish it could be the subject of a controlled study.

“My right knee is still arthritic bone on arthritic bone, but I have surprising mobility, and only very moderate discomfort.

“I am a very lucky guy!  Thank you,” Kent

Q. Have you ever heard about apple cider vinegar in juice as a way to lower cholesterol and relieve arthritis pain? My aunt drank such a concoction every day and maintained that it kept her going. She lived into her 90s.

I used to consider this a harmless quirk. Now I have developed both arthritis and slightly elevated cholesterol myself. I would like to try this drink but I don’t know how to make it. Do you have any advice?

A. We received a recipe for apple cider vinegar mixed with apple juice and grape juice from a reader who said Sam Houston of Alamo fame had used it. There are no studies verifying that this remedy lowers cholesterol or alleviates arthritis, but many readers have found apple cider vinegar drinks helpful.

If you would like to learn more about other remedies for arthritis, you will find them in our 264-page book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies (from National Geographic).

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  1. Celeste

    A couple commenters said they couldn’t find unsweetened grape juice. If you have a Fred Meyer nearby, they have it in their health foods section. Another alternative is to ask your local grocery to bring in R.W. Knudsen “Just Concord”, if you want organic, pure no-sugar-added juice with no additives.

  2. Bonnie

    it is working,,,thank you so much,,,I am getting my life back,,,my question is, must it be Certo brand, or can I use a generic brand.

  3. Pamela

    Have been on the liquid Certo with pomegranate, wild berry juice combo for two weeks now. Taking it once to twice a day. Had started Curcumin twice daily only(worried about effects on blood pressure) beginning of April without seeing much improvement. Now with the addition of the Certo juice, my arthritic pain has decreased significantly. Once I run out of the Curcumin will see if the pain reduction is solely due to the Certo combo or not. Won’t know the effect on my cholesterol until it’s run again.

  4. cheryl

    I was not able to find organic sugar free Welches grape juice to use with the pectin so I purchased natural sugar free cherry juice. What are your thoughts on switching the grape to cherry juice?

    I will let you know if it works for me. My left knee and my right foot are very arthritic. I’m very close to surgery on both. I sure hope this helps my pain.

  5. April

    I am a huge fan of cranberry juice and it’s properties…would this not work with the same amount of certo?

  6. Barbara
    Atlanta, GA

    I have read that grapefruit juice can interfere with certain medication. It appears that the pectin is made of citrus peel including grapefruit peel. Does anyone know if this will affect the body’s absorbing medication? If so would taking them at different times fix the problem? Any input appreciated.

    • Barbara

      I have answered my own question. According to WebMD under Pectin interactions: Pectin can affect how certain medications are absorbed including antibiotics and Lovastatin. To avoid this take meds one hour before or four hours after taking pectin. I hope this helps others as it has helped me.
      I will take my meds and (at least) one hour later take the Certo and grape juice.

    • Terry Graedon

      In the UK, Certo is made of apple pectin. If that is also true for Certo in the US, there would be no need to worry.

  7. John
    Davison, Mi

    Will this help with diabetic nerve pain?

  8. C. A. Poole
    Pasadena, California

    Anybody have any WRITTEN instructions for natural help for diabetic neuropathy? Also, what can I use as a substitute for grape juice with the Certo for arthritis?

  9. Gisella
    Nashville, TN

    I have arthritis in my left thumb. This spring I got a steroid injection but while the injection was very painful it really did not give much relief. A friend of mine had told me about pectin, and I have been taking Ball powdered pectin for low sugar jams, 2 tsp in fresh apple cider that is available at stores in the fall. I actually first ferment the apple cider slightly with water kefir grains, and when I add the pectin it sort of reacts the way they advertise for Alkaseltzer. I finally have no pain in my left thumb which, at one point, was so bad I could not even drive. Once fresh apple cider is no longer available I will try the grape juice and am pretty sure that should work just as nicely. I also make our own milk kefir.

  10. Cheryl

    My husband and I have been taking the Certo for about 2 weeks. Yes, it has helped the pain but we have noticed a few other things going on also. After taking the Certo, I itch for about 8 hours. It seems like the itching is along arteries and veins. I believe that the Certo is improving my circulation and the itching may be a side effect from that. Also, I have had so many problems with my bladder and my husband with his prostate and we have noticed that now we produce much more urine which is alleviating some of my bladder problems and my husband is sleeping much better at night. Now we are not sure if this is due to the Certo but these things have happened after taking the Certo.

  11. Rhoda
    Columbus, MS

    Do you need to refrigerate the remaining Certo after opening or can you just close the package somehow and leave it at room temperature?

    • Skippy

      I always refrigerate my CERTO. I have used it for years for muscle pain. I remember that people used CERTO back in the 1950s for bursitis and arthritis and kept it in the fridge door. A few months back I had terrible arthritis in my hands and thumbs. I tried a number of OTC medications which offered minimal relief. Then I remembered CERTO and drank a spoonful (or 2 or 3) mixed with frozen grape juice or frozen lemonade several times a day. I add half a cup of water or so. Now for months my hands have been perfect. This is important because I play several musical instruments. I have had a bursar on one knee since 1961 and it helps with that also when it causes trouble. I mixed it fresh each time and didn’t mix it ahead or store it in the fridge.

  12. Lon

    If Certo is not available, is Sure Jell Pectin be used instead?

  13. MarshaK

    1 TBL LIQUID CERTO (ck expiration date on box) to 4/6 oz White Grape Juice Lite or Lemonaide Lite two to three times daily. You can also cut both… 1/2 juice – 1/2 water. I use my majic bullet and just pulse it a few times to make sure it is mixed well. I have only been taking this since Sunday 5/31/15 but I can already tell a difference. I suffer from bursitis/siatica/back pain and this seems to working well to ease my pain. MY HIP PAIN IS significantly better! Taking it one day at a time! Thanks People’s for the help – where docs have not been much help.

  14. Brian
    Durham, NC

    When I first heard about the Certo and grape juice remedy for joint pain, I was skeptical. But I am a believer now! This really does work!!!

  15. rob
    outer banks nc

    Is certo good for rheumatic conditions as well as the osteo form of arthritis?

  16. corrine w nelson
    Lake Oswego, OR 97034

    I read that Certo would help painful knees. I have plenty of cartilage but there’s torn mininscus. I appreciate the information about how to use it with grape juice and am anxious to get started.

  17. Madonna
    Dallas, TX

    I have made a batch of gin soaked raisins, but have been taking them for only a couple of weeks, so I’m still waiting to see if they help. I seem to have a sudden increase in inflammation, so several joints are painful. Do your readers ever use all the remedies at once, i.e. the certo and grape juice along with the vinegar-grape -apple juice , the raisins, and maybe the turmeric as well? Is there any reason not to mix these ? Calories and sugar are less of a concern than the increasing arthritis pain.

  18. Lane
    North Carolina

    I tried substituting Pomona’s Pectin for Certo at the same rate (1tbsp/1c juice), but now have jelled grape juice. How much Pomona’s would be equivalent to 1 tablespoon of Certo?


    • The People's Pharmacy

      That’s an interesting problem, Lane. You may need to experiment to find the right amount. We’d try a teaspoon to start with.

  19. Carol

    I have been using certo and grape juice for lowering cholesterol, which seems to be working. I don’t like grape juice so have been mixing the correct amount of certo into 1 frozen can of concentrated grape juice and keeping it in the freezer at home and work. That way I only have to eat about 1-1.5 oz 3 times a day; it lasts about a week. Does the chemical reaction over time still occur if it’s frozen? And if so, how long is too long to keep it?

    And what about the “transition-metal catalyst” comment? Is that true, and would there be one in the grape juice concoction?

  20. Sally

    My concern is the amount of sugar that is in grape juice and I haven’t been able to find an unsweetened alternative. Do you have any recommendations?

    • Cs
      Newport, RI

      Tart cherry juice, organic. Anti-inflammatory and improves sleep.

  21. graysonb

    I will be 91 In November and have stress fractures in all lumbar vertebrae. One has been fractured twice. My physical medicine physician says my neck is the worst he has seen. I have declined steroid injections and have used the grape juice-fruit pectin for several years and think it has helped greatly to keep me free of pain most of the time. Early this year I added tart cherry juice to my regimen. Occasionally I have to use an Icy/Hot patch to sleep.

  22. Brad

    Any particular brand of grape juice?

  23. gayle d.
    columbia south carolina

    What a great video telling me to mix the GEL Certo with the grape juice. I had tried the powder and you are exactly correct…it is difficult to get it to dissolve.

    So on to the store to get the gel Certo.
    Keep up the great work. I listen to you every Sunday here on NPR in Columbia.

  24. Charlotte

    I mixed the concoction of Certo and grape juice with no idea of the amount to mix. Too much Certo will harden your stool and nearly kill you.

    Please tell people the quantity of each liquid to mix.

    The People’s Pharmacy shouldn’t turn us loose on such remedies without telling us how to prepare the concoction.

    I wouldn’t touch Certo with a ten foot pole….lol. Some of us will try anything to ease our pain and sickness so be careful and instruct us properly. Thank you.

    • The People's Pharmacy

      Charlotte, did you watch the video at the top of this page? It provides details instructions with amounts and shows you how to do it.

      • Debra

        Please, I’d love to have the instructions in writing. I do not watch videos.

      • Linda

        The top of the page tells you the best mixture is 1 teaspoon of certo with 3 ounces of grape juice get more information before you mix and take read everything first before you mix you had a bad experience because you didn’t take time to read everything

    • Sherry
      nashville, tn

      It appears they are saying use 1 TBSP of Certo Gel to one 8 oz Cup of Juice.

  25. ariel

    does anyone know if the Pomona pectin works on its own? I am diabetic and the grape juice has too much sugar. I tried the gin and raisins and it worked, but still too much sugar…

  26. marianne

    I learned about alternative medicine as a child from my family and the local Indian tribes in Wisconsin. Alternative medicine has been an incredible help in maintaining my health. I also, depending on the symptoms, used homeopathy, Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicines. Not all medicine used for one condition, will work for seemly the same condition in another person. Herbs can treat the entire body, and are unbelievably complex, as science has found out. There are certain environmental conditions, air, soil and water, time of year, etc., we cannot duplicate… the human body is equally as unique. I firmly believe there is a cure for every disease on the face of this earth in the herbs- we just need to keep looking for it and the persons with the necessary training to prescribe them to actually prevent illness. Nature is amazing !

    • ariel

      I do not know either.. wish I did… since I am diabetic. I DID try the raisins and gin worked but it’s too much sugar for me.

  27. Mary M

    Can you use sugar free juice?

    • ariel

      sugar free juice still has natural sugar in it.. I think it’s way too much sugar..

    • ariel

      In reply to can I use un-sweetened juice. No because it contains natural sugar.

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