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Are Gin-Drenched Raisins a Big Joke?

A skeptic attacked gin-drenched raisins as offering arthritis sufferers false hope. But many readers have found this remedy helps relieve pain.

Whoever said “Getting old isn’t for sissies” certainly got it right. As we age, we often accumulate aches and pains that may be attributed to arthritis. People with arthritis are faced with a horrible dilemma. They can suffer joint pain that makes them miserable and interferes with their ability to function in daily life. Or they can take medications that have potentially serious side effects over the long term. In some cases, they may turn to silly-sounding home remedies like gin-drenched raisins.

Do Home Remedies Like Gin-Drenched Raisins Offer False Hope?

It’s little wonder that some people embrace home remedies that offer the hope of pain relief without the risk of heart attacks or kidney damage. But people can’t benefit from hope alone.

We recently received a letter chastising us for writing about such approaches:

“You are giving readers false hope that any home remedy will help for arthritis. I have tried them all, and they don’t work. Anyone is lying who says they had painful arthritis and gin-soaked raisins or gelatin or any other nonsense cured them or even relieved the pain.

“This month I thought my hand was fractured and went to a hand surgeon. He diagnosed pseudo-gout and gave me six days of methylprednisolone. Within four days the pain was gone, along with all my arthritis pain. But I can’t stay on steroids.

“People have sought an arthritis cure for thousands of years, but death is the only cure. Your home remedies give them false hope.”

Our correspondent was especially dismissive of gin-drenched raisins:

“Does Gordon’s gin pay you to keep pushing gin-soaked raisins? You know these remedies are useless. Even if there is a short-term placebo effect, it is very short term. Anyone sending you stories about this fake hocus-pocus is deluded. It is cruel and unethical to mislead people, especially those who are truly suffering and seeking help.”

This is a very grim view. While some people undeniably get no benefit from gin-drenched raisins, we don’t think this remedy is a hoax or a joke. Certain individuals tell us that they have been helped.

We first heard from one reader 25 years ago. She wrote:

“I had three agonizing years of PAIN and couldn’t get out of bed on my own, even with strong medicines. Now I am mobile again. I started taking the gin-soaked raisins several months ago and my doctor is amazed. I’m still on Imuran and prednisone, but he has lowered the dose. I’ve lost 19 pounds because I am up and active.”

Over the next decade we heard from her periodically. She and her doctor continued to lower her dosage of medicine for rheumatoid arthritis and she continued eating nine raisins daily. We don’t know whether the raisins contributed to her well-being, or whether it was a placebo effect. It was not short-term, however.

Gin-Drenched Raisins Have Some Enthusiastic Supporters:

Here is another testimonial from a reader who appreciates the power of gin-drenched raisins:

“I’ve damaged both knees in every way possible, including rips, tears and breaks right across both balls-and-sockets. I’ve got three pins in one knee and a subluxed (out of place) patella in the other. I’ve always had knee pain, especially when skiing.

“I do take a supplement regimen with hyaluronic acid, turmeric and krill oil for my joints. Two years ago, I added gin-soaked raisins, and gradually my knee pain has just DISAPPEARED! Now I can ski as long and hard as I want, and the knees barely grumble. I don’t even take Tylenol anymore! The gin-drenched raisins are the big reason, I believe. A word of warning: they’re too delicious to limit oneself to 9 raisins. I take about 15. I turn 71 this month.”

Many readers have joked about skipping the raisins and just going straight for the gin. If they prepare the remedy properly, however, there is very little gin remaining–about one drop of alcohol in nine raisins. We don’t think the fact that some people don’t benefit means the others are telling tall tales. After all, some people get tremendous relief from celecoxib (Celebrex) while others don’t find it very helpful. Why would home remedies be so different?

Learn More:

If you would like to explore gin-drenched raisins for yourself, you can learn more about the raisin remedy and other non-drug approaches to joint pain from our book, The Graedons’ Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. The information is also available as an online resource, the eGuide Alternatives for Arthritis.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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