The People's Perspective on Medicine

Fed Up and Annoyed by Gin-Soaked 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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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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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.

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?

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?

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

Joe and Terry, have you seen this Arthritis Foundation article? Hope you’ll respond to them…
People’s Pharmacy response: We think the best way to tell if a food affects your arthritis is to give it a test: try 6 weeks without it. People have very individual responses.

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.

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

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.

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!

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.

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…

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.

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.

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:

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.

Ron, all the gin brands say “distilled”. The ones without juniper and herbs say “distilled from 100% grain”. On my last trip to the liquor store a few days ago, I checked a bunch of different brands – starting with the cheapest and on up – all said grain; then I checked Tanqueray (2-1/2 times the price of ‘regular’ gin) and only this one said juniper berries, coriander and angelica, etc. It would be interesting to hear some input from people who have had success with the gin and raisins, and for them to tell the BRAND NAME of the gin. That way, perhaps a picture will emerge as to whether the ‘grain’ gin works or only the expensive juniper berries gins!

Mignon: My understanding, and I have been eating these raisins for about 5 years, is that any gin that says ‘distilled’ is the stuff to get. VERY cheap gin can be made of just alcohol and some flavoring. If it is any name brand, it is good. I buy whatever is on sale the day I go in. The liquor store person can tell you if you are confused. My guy says he has lots of raisin buyers – or so they say!
DP: the way I make my raisins all the alcohol has evaporated (open for about two weeks) before I begin eating them. If you can get your BAC up to the legal limit eating these raisins, you ate a lot more than 9!

First, to Noah V: Good grief! 9 gin-soaked raisins will NOT put your blood alcohol level anywhere near the legal limit, i.e., NO, you can’t get a DWI eating the gin-soaked raisins unless you ate about 2 weeks’ worth in a single day. And even then, most of the alcohol would be evaporated.
No question the gin/raisin remedy works. It works for me, and it has worked for people I recommended it to. But here’s my question: WHY 9?????? Why in the world not 10, for instance, which is a nice round number. They’re so delicious it’s even hard to stop at 10, and sometimes I don’t.

To Mignon:
and everybody else….
Here is a URL to a site discussing various “real” Gins-
Gordons is among them. All liquors are various types of ‘grain alcohol’, yes? Gin is made with contact, in the distilling process, aged in contact with Juniper berries.

Question: Do you have to ‘evaporate’ or can you just leave the raisins in the container with a lid and eat wet? I don’t use Gin. I use apple cider vinegar and make a month’s worth at a time. Put a whole box of golden raisins in a Tupperware container, completely submerse in vinegar and honey. Let it sit on the counter with a light towel on top for a day or so. Then put a lid on it, store in the fridge and eat a handful at a day. The raisins evaporate some the first day, but after that stay submersed/never dry completely.

To DP: Why in the world do you not mention the name of the Gin brand you found that contains Juniper berries, plus? That is the most important part of the recipe, and others – like me – must be having the same difficulty finding this gin. I thought Gordon’s was the one, but I just read the label yesterday, and it says “from grain” just like the others.
Please post the name for us. Thanks.

Gin without Juniper did not work for me. Next batch of golden raisins, I read the Gin label before purchasing and made sure the Gin contained Juniper berries. This brand also had other herbs present. It keeps my finger joints from swelling and being painful. The raisiny liquor that is left when the last raisin is eaten can be used to start the next batch, or as one reader suggested, poured over Ice Cream or any fruit, even drunk as a cordial. Delicious, but don’t forget it still has the same alcohol percentage as the original Gin.

I had such severe pain from osteoarthritis in both thumbs and index fingers that it prevented sleep. Or I would be awakened in pain so bad I couldn’t get back to sleep.
My body is full of arthritis so I tried the raisin/gin cure and within days the pain was totally gone in my hands!! There was no relief in shoulders, lower back, knees, or toes but that pain never kept me awake nights. Or actually it might be worse in those areas if not for the raisins.
What a mystery that only the hands got relief. And those joints are no longer swollen. I now get great sleep and after several years continue pain free in hands.

Could we just skip the damn raisins?

I am desperate for relief of a very painful elbow and shoulder — What is the recipe? I don’t want to take pain pills!!

I keep them on the counter at room temperature. I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to keep them in the fridge. We are the kind of people that leave butter out at room temp all year as well, so get some input from others.

Karen: For me, it goes away and returns after some period of not eating the raisins. My observation was after taking them for years I can go a longer time without before I am aware of pain. When I first started, say 6 months into it, even three days without resulted in painful wrist.

Marcus: Why don’t you try that and let us know how it works out.

Do you take them in the morning or in the evening?
If I take nine drunken raisins in the morning will I risk getting a DWI (serious question) should I be stopped for some petty infraction?
Is the effect cumulative over time so if I miss a day it won’t make much of a difference?

It is so much better to at least try something natural that all the drugs we put in our bodies. I have arthritis and have been taking every pill the Dr gave me to try to stop the pain. Some worked but now, because of taking all that stuff it is affecting my kidneys. I am now using tart cherry and that seems to be helping. I will never be rid of the arthritis but at least I have less pain.

To Joe and Terry,
Please, never ever allow the skeptics slow you down or cause any discouragement.
Never stop sharing alternatives that help but never hurt, with such great potential to help in so many ways.
So much important information to be gotten nowhere else.
The gin soaked raisins–helped me, and daughter finally tried with wonderful results.
Rosacea and blepharitis helps. Flax seed info. The soap. Listerine. Informative sites for so much more. Foolish to go on and on listing everything. Too long.
Suffice to say when anyone has a complaint I send them your appropriate article or send them to your site. EVERY person has been thankful.
‘When red yeast rice is not so good’— caused me to understand why my legs were not working and saved me so much pain.
All things that can help without hurting. What could be wrong with that?
And the bulletins! Anti-depressants—things I ‘felt’, but your alert validated my ‘feelings’ and turned the tide in my deciding against them.
I cannot begin to list how many have benefited from your columns.
Grateful everyday.

Arthritis is a serious problem, but the medical community has not found a safe, sure-fire way to treat or cure it. The drugs prescribed today can kill or injure a person. Home remedies often work without any serious side effects, so why not try them- they just might work and if they don’t for you, no big deal.

I laughed all the way to the liquor store but was thinking “what the heck”! When I told the clerk what I was there for he said he sells alot of Gin for that very purpose. I was still skeptical but tried anyway. I had relief within a week but still thought it was probably just a fluke so I stopped the raisins and boy what a difference they had made. I now keep Golden Raisins and Gin for everyday use. I could not be more pleased with the results. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!!!

If you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it. Do some research before you dismiss the validity of a claim. Case in point…putting soap in the bed for leg cramps. It works for me! Don’t know how or why. More and more doctor are embracing alternative medicine because because it greatly reduces the dangers of side effects. While on Humara (for Crohn’s) I developed an eyelid infection that almost put me in the hospital. Now I wash my eye lids with baby shampoo as instructed by my opthalmolgist.

Gin-soaked raisins did not work for my husband. He wound up having a hip replacement. Like the person above, his hip joint was bone on bone. Aleve was the only thing that helped before that.
I suspect the raisins are a solution only for mild arthritis where the joint has not disintegrated or suffered a serious injury.

I know people who have benefitted from this remedy and others who say not so much. I wonder if the brand of gin matters? As someone who enjoys a good quality gin and abhors a bad one, I have learned that many of the cheaper gins are merely vodkas with juniper flavoring added and have no botanical infused ingredients at all. Better quality gins are complex liquors made by allowing the basic distilled alcohol to lie in contact with juniper (required) and any variety of other botanical ingredients (proprietary by brand). It would make sense to me that if this remedy works with gin (but not, say, vodka, bourbon, rum, etc) the juniper must be in some way essential, and perhaps some of the other botanicals as well. An informal poll of your readers who have found success or lack of success with this remedy might shed some light on this. Maybe some brands are more efficacious than others.

I heard this ‘nonsense’ for years on your program and elsewhere. I did not think I had arthritis so I never thought of trying it, but I do have a painful right wrist and being a motorcycle rider, that is an important part to have working well. One morning, laying in bed listening to your show I heard it again and said, “Why not?”, nothing to lose.
I went to the ABC store, bought a bottle of gin, already had the raisins and set up a batch in a little IKEA stainless spice container (GRUNDTAL). A week later I though that they were ready to go, so I started eating them. I was surprised to realize that two weeks later I no longer had any pain in my knees! It had come so gradually that I was not even aware that they hurt constantly. The wrist also responded but is still painful when I over-do it, like using a chainsaw for several hours, something I could not do at all before.
We have passed the ‘secret’ on to many friends and some have reported success. None have said it doesn’t work, but I don’t badger people about it. We have some friends that are anti-alcohol so won’t go buy the bottle, sorry for them.
We set up a new batch as soon as I start using a new one. Our container holds enough for about two weeks, so we have two containers, one for eating and one evaporating.
Also, I went on a long weekend trip without the container about 6 months into doing this and after 4 days the pain was back. After some years of doing it I can skip a few days and no problem. That leads me to think that this is somehow repairing the damaged surfaces in the joints.
Here is the best part: When the batch is about done, pour the syrup that remains in the container over vanilla ice cream, it is really good.

It’s not clear from the words in this extract: are people saying that the gin-soaked raisins made their pain go away forever, or simply as long as they eat the raisins?

I tried the gin soaked raisins last year and gradually my arthritis pain was relieved.
I didn’t realize how much it had worked until this past spring I was being treated for a c-diff infection and could not stomach the raisins. I couldn’t figure out why the arthritis pain was getting worse, but now I have started the raisins again and realize
they really had worked. I also use the grape juice/pectin in the morning and the raisins in the evening.

I am confused about this gin soaked raisin thing. Why can’t I just eat a handful of raisins while sipping on a gin martini?

More likely the boron in the raisins that does the trick.

Thank you for your article. I would like to know after making gin soaked raisins, where should I keep them: in the refrigerator or on the room temperature?

Well, honestly, the gin soaked raisins did help. Physically or mentally I am not sure. I was able to go up and down steps much much more easily.. but I still ended up having total knee replacement. The raisins may help somehow the pain, for a while, but it cannot make the ‘bone on bone’ scraping of knee joints go away. It does not make bones and joints change. But the knee surgery did make the pain go away completely!

I had been using the raisins for about four months. Pain in lower back gone so decided to quit them.
Recently back pain recurred so started raisins. One night; pain gone. For a couple weeks tried topical aids and ibuprofen. Reduced pain but did not stop it. Now pain free.
They do make me very sleepy and sometimes remain so next day. I appreciate the sound sleep, but not being drowsy next day.

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