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Golden Raisins in Gin: Placebo or Powerful Arthritis Remedy?

People with arthritis are caught in a terrible bind. OTC and prescription drugs have some serious side effects. What about golden raisins in gin?

Are you a skeptic? Do you think all home remedies are nothing more than old wives’ tales? Snake oil? Silliness? Or do you keep an open mind and wonder why such approaches are handed down from generation to generation? Does experience count for anything? Why do some people believe golden raisins in gin can help ease the pain of arthritis?

Arthritis Remedies Keep Joint Pain at Bay:

Q. Some people have asked you about the golden raisins in a popular arthritis remedy. I suspect the sulfur used to preserve their color may be somewhat beneficial, together with juniper derivatives in the gin.

In my veterinary experience, MSM, a sulfur-containing compound, helps animals who have been limping on sore joints.

I use golden raisins in gin. If I neglect to take this for a few weeks, my foot joint pain comes back.

In addition, I take glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and pectin to keep my foot and knee pain at bay. Since using this regimen, I have stopped considering a knee joint replacement, as I was several years ago.

A. Thank you for describing your complex regimen. We discuss multiple home remedies like gin-soaked raisins and pectin in grape juice in our book, The Graedons’ Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. In addition, we cover alternative therapies like glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) and SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine). We appreciate the perspective from veterinary medicine, where glucosamine and chondroitin are sometimes found to be quite helpful.

A Reader Doesn’t Care If Golden Raisins in Gin Are Placebos:

Q. Some people have told you that they think gin-soaked raisins only work through a placebo effect. I don’t care!

Arthritis runs in my family; I and my five siblings have it. We are all in our 80s.

I started on a drug many years ago and then switched to raisins as soon as I heard about them. Since that time, I haven’t needed any drugs for my joint pain.

I live in a retirement community now and am one of the few who can still go up and down the stairs from my second-floor apartment. I boycott the elevator and I still do fine hand sewing, get in and out of my car easily and take long pain-free walks.

My siblings, all unwilling to give the raisins a try, are on many different drugs and are very limited in what they can do. I couldn’t care less if the raisin remedy is all in my head. What’s more, raisins, even with gin, are much less expensive than the drugs my sibs have taken over these many years.

The People’s Pharmacy Shares Golden Raisin in Gin:

A. We first heard about gin-soaked raisins for arthritis more than 25 years ago. Since then, hundreds of people have told us that this home remedy is surprisingly effective against joint pain.

As far as we can tell, researchers have shown no interest in this approach. There have been no clinical trials to test the effectiveness of golden raisins in gin.

A Few More Readers Share Stories:

Danita relates this story about her husband:

“My husband has been wracked with arthritis for years. We came across the golden raisins in gin on the People’s Pharmacy website and decided to try the remedy. It took a few weeks, but it works for him. He’s been taking them for quite a few years now, and even his doctor agreed that if it works for him, keep doing it, as the medicine is far more expensive and worse for your body. It may not work for everyone, just as medications aren’t a one-pill-fits-all; but it’s worth a try.”

Danita is absolutely right that not everyone benefits from gin-soaked raisins. We hear from people who say this home remedy is not helpful. But as Danita points out, the same can be said about FDA-approved pricey prescription medicines.

Terry P. is supportive of our efforts to share remedies that might help, won’t hurt and aren’t very expensive.

“My personal experience with gin-soaked golden raisins (1/2 Tanqueray gin (not Gordon’s) and 1/2 Sloe gin) was to treat persistent radiating left hip pain. I ate my ‘slightly’ well-rounded teaspoon each evening before retiring. Within two weeks, no pain… and better mobility!

“To both Terry and Joe, I say PLEASE continue your work. Objective success is objective success. Thank you for your contribution to not only our health, but also to the sheer confidence to be our own health care advocates.

“To those who insist on degrading others’ sincere, well-educated efforts, I suggest a relaxing gin and tonic while soaking in a decadent tub of epsom salt, and actually ‘objectively listening’ to an enlightening, informative ‘People’s Pharmacy’ Podcast!’”

Thank you Terry P. Google has made it much harder for us to share such remedies. Anything that suggests alternative or integrative medicine has become much harder to find during a Google search. We may have also been punished for providing objective information about drug side effects. Here is an article we wrote about this several weeks ago:

Is Google Censoring Drug Side Effect Information?

If you would like to learn more about golden raisins in gin and other nondrug approaches for aching joints, you may wish to consult our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis. This online resource contains instructions and a video on how to make gin-soaked raisins. It is available in our Health eGuide section at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Share your own experience with gin-soaked raisins or any other home remedy in the comment section below.

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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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