Arthritis and joint pain are extremely common problems as we grow older. The pain itself can interfere greatly with your quality of life. On the other hand, because people suffer from joint pain frequently, if not every day, they may want relief on a regular basis. The most common drugs used for joint pain should not be taken daily because they have serious side effects such as digestive tract irritation or even ulcers. NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen can even raise the likelihood that a person will suffer a heart attack or stroke. Perhaps that is why people have invented so many remedies to help ease the discomfort. One that we hear about repeatedly is purple grape juice with pectin dissolved in it. Could it ease your pain? Several readers have asked about this remedy.
Is There a Recipe for Grape Juice with Pectin?
Q. Several months ago, you wrote about combining juice and pectin for a sore knee. Back then, I didn’t need to know anything more about it. Now, though, my knee aches and I’d really like the recipe.
A. This classic remedy is usually described as Certo (liquid fruit pectin) in purple grape juice. No one has studied this as an arthritis treatment. However, recent research shows that a combination of bilberry and red grape juice lowers inflammation in blood and body tissues (BMC Nutrition, Nov. 22, 2021). Bilberries are closely related to blueberries. Consequently, blueberry juice might be an alternative to grape juice for those who don’t like grapes.
What Is the Story on Grape Juice with Pectin?
Q. I learned from a friend of mine who reads your column that I should drink pure grape juice with pectin two to three times a day for joint/arthritis pain. My question is: what does the pectin have to do with the grape juice? Can grape juice alone do the trick?
Purple Pectin for Pain:
A. We first heard about the “purple pectin remedy” over two decades ago. A reader had tried gin-soaked raisins with no success. He and his wife then switched to Certo (plant pectin used to thicken jams and jellies) in grape juice. He reported that this combination eased their joint pain.
We have subsequently heard from other readers that this remedy dates back to the 1940s. Goodness knows who came up with the formula originally. (The usual recipe calls for two tablespoons of Certo in six to eight ounces of Concord grape juice daily, divided into two doses.)
Other Testimonials on Grape Juice with Pectin:
We have received a number of testimonials on this remedy. Here is one:
Q. Purple grape juice and pectin is working great for my arthritis. I saw improvement in both knees after the second dose. I use SURE-JELL, not Certo, because that is what my supermarket carries. It can be found very near the Jell-O.
A. Many readers have asked about substituting SURE-JELL for Certo fruit pectin in this popular home remedy to alleviate arthritis pain. Thank you for letting us know the results of your personal experiment.
Others have tried Pomona’s Universal Pectin. Like SURE-JELL, it is a powdered pectin product that may require a bit of extra effort to get it to dissolve.
“I have been taking Certo for about 30 years with 4 oz of grape juice and 4 oz of water mix. I have a dislocated shoulder that bothered me when I started taking Certo and after about 2 months I had no pain and at 82 I still can walk 18 holes golfing. Thank you Certo.”
Barbara has a consistent regimen:
“For five years now, I’ve been drinking white grape juice (because I heard white grapes have the healing factors). I put a package of pectin in a 64 oz. bottle of the juice. Shake and refrigerate. Every morning, I drink a 4 oz glass of the juice; I also add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar into my 4 oz. glass of low-sodium V-8 juice; I soak a box of golden raisins – not any other fruit – in a pint of inexpensive gin. Soak for four days in a pie plate on my kitchen counter. The gin (no substitutes) loses its flavor but soaks into the raisins. There is some liquid left. I pour the entire combination into a glass jar which sits on my kitchen counter. I take a tablespoon (about 9 raisins) of this mixture every morning. I’ve been doing all three for five years now and do not take any meds for arthritis nor do I get any pain. I know that there is arthritis around my joints. In December 2018, the surgeon who replaced my right knee, showed me, on my films, where it is. Consistency is the key!”
Carol is a skeptic, but she is still using grape juice with pectin:
“Super skeptical, I am. BUT, I have been taking the Certo/grape juice mix and it helps. Crazy. I’ve been doing everything to eliminate hip pain: Chiropractor, Acupuncture, massage, heat, cold, TENS, rub in pain relief, can’t take oral pain relievers because of my stomach. Certo/grape juice. Crazy.”
Janice has come up with a combination remedy:
“I’ve had to combine ideas that I found here and in your booklet, but the result is terrific!
“Each morning I take a spoonful (I don’t bother to count) of gin soaked raisins. Then I make my “cocktail” – either the powder or liquid pectin, welches concord juice, and a tablespoon of tart cherry concentrate – then water to fill the cup.
“I came to this combo one idea at a time and noticed improvement with each addition. I don’t care which one is the one that works. All I know is that it does. Hopefully one doesn’t need to take a break every now and then like you do with things like turmeric etc.
“The cocktail works on my severely arthritic thumbs that are not exactly in joint anymore. The doctor has been telling me that surgery is my only option. I tell him that when the pain is to the point where I figure surgery recovery is no different, I’ll do it. Some days I do take the cocktail twice because of the other various arthritic parts of me like feet and hips, and the sciatica from bulging discs and spinal stenosis, etc…. Mostly I feel pretty dratted good.”
How Does This Remedy Work?
No one knows quite why or how grape juice with pectin works for some people to ease their arthritis pain. We have come across a few possible explanations, though.
Pectin Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties:
We’ve never seen a study of grape juice and pectin to alleviate joint pain. However, researchers have discovered that pectin in the diet can reduce inflammation through its effect on the immune system (1). In addition, pectin from apples has beneficial effects on the gut microbiota of rats (2). Might people get similar results? We don’t know.
Grape Compounds Against Pain:
We have been looking for evidence that grape juice might relieve pain, and found just a few recent studies that may be relevant. In one, scientists gave rats a chemotherapy compound that causes nerve pain. The rats fared significantly better when they were given grape extract (3). Mice with a condition similar to gout pain had less swelling and appeared more comfortable when given grape seed extract (4). Moreover, grape juice has anti-inflammatory properties (5). Perhaps most relevant, researchers reported that proanthocyanidin compounds from grape seeds improved measures of arthritis pain in rats (6). Such studies suggest to us that grapes and grape juice may have benefits.
Do Your Own Experiment:
We suggest you do your own personal experiment. Try purple grape juice alone for a couple of weeks and then add Certo to the mix. Let us know if you experience any additional benefit. You may also want to try out different juices with pectin.
Will Other Juices Work as Well as Grape Juice with Pectin?
Q. I have started taking Certo and grape juice for my arthritis but wondered if you can use Certo in other juices, such as cranberry, orange or apple and get similar results?
A. There is no scientific data supporting this remedy for joint pain. One reader reported good results mixing Certo with pomegranate juice. Try one tablespoon in 8 oz. juice daily and report your results.
Here is the previous reader’s story.
Pomegranate Juice and Pectin:
Q. I’ve read your columns about grape juice and Certo for easing joint pain but I don’t like grape juice. I tried pomegranate juice with Certo instead. It’s much lower in calories and it tastes really good.
After just a couple of days, the results are amazing! I can comfortably make a tight fist now, which means I can look forward to throwing punches in aikido classes again without jamming an arthritic knuckle.
As an EMT, I’m definitely in tune with conventional modern US medicine. From a medical standpoint, this remedy has me stumped, but there is no doubt that it really worked quickly and effectively for me. I don’t know if this mixture will affect other drugs or conditions, so others should check with the doctor before trying it.
A. Thanks for sharing your experiment. We have heard from hundreds of readers that Certo and grape juice or gin soaked raisins can ease joint pain. Pomegranate juice itself can ease inflammation and slow cartilage destruction (7).
To learn more about this and many other natural approaches to easing joint pain, we suggest you review our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis. This electronic resource even has a video about how to mix Certo and grape juice. Those who prefer a printed format may wish to consider the book version, Graedons’ Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis.