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How to Make Gin-Soaked Raisins for Joint Pain

Step-by-step instructions for preparing and using gin-soaked raisins, a longtime reader-favorite home remedy for arthritis and joint pain.

Have you looked at the side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) lately? Drugs like diclofenac, ibuprofen, indomethacin, ketoprofen, meloxicam, piroxicam and naproxen can cause high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes, atrial fibrillation (AFib), fluid retention, heart failure, indigestion, stomach ulcers, perforation of the intestines, kidney and liver damage. It’s no wonder many people would like less dangerous alternatives. That may be why gin-soaked raisins remain a perennial reader favorite. One reader decided to opt for this remedy rather than wrist surgery.

Gin-Soaked Raisins for Hand Arthritis:

Q. I have been using gin-soaked raisins for about 10 years for hand arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. I am a licensed cosmetologist, so having surgery for  carpal tunnel pain would be a huge problem. Also, the doctor said I would need to stop doing the motions that irritate the nerves.

Well, I’m not about to give up my career and income. Instead, I started eating nine raisins daily and never looked back. I do sleep in a wrist splint at night as well.

My hands are great! My 86-year-old mom had frozen shoulder, so she started taking them too. Now she has no pain and full range of motion. My sister, who has arthritis in her hands, has also benefited.

This is cheap and easy. My first attempt was with inexpensive gin. When that did not work, I almost gave up. I tried it again with Bombay Sapphire gin. Just like olive oils, there are different grades of gin. Bombay made the difference! I got results in about six or eight weeks after starting this remedy.

A. Over several decades, hundreds, if not thousands, of readers have reported success with gin-soaked raisins for joint pain. We still have no good explanation for this surprising home remedy. Many, like you, say that it took several weeks before they noticed benefit.

Good quality gin is flavored with juniper berries. We don’t know if that is the magic ingredient, though juniper berries have a reputation as anti-inflammatory.

Adding Boswellia to Gin-Soaked Raisins:

Q. I have been using gin-soaked raisins for years now. As a result, I have had wonderful relief from my arthritic pain and stiffness.

When the pandemic came along, I didn’t go out and get more gin. Instead, I skimped on the recipe. After about a week my arthritic pain and stiffness returned, especially in my right hand. I could no longer enjoy many of the activities I was used to.

Consequently, when I read about boswellia for arthritis, I decided to try it. After a couple weeks my hand was back to normal!

I have continued both boswellia and gin-soaked raisins ever since. Should I take the boswellia indefinitely? I would greatly appreciate any information you can offer.

A. Almost 30 years ago we got a letter from a reader about gin-soaked raisins. Since then, hundreds of others have written to share their enthusiasm about this arthritis remedy.

There is evidence that the Ayurvedic medicine boswellia has anti-inflammatory activity (BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, July 17, 2020). We wish that more scientists would also study the effects of raisins drenched in gin. In one study, investigators found that polyphenols from muscadine grapes and wine eased arthritis and modified the balance of gut microbes in mice (Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, June 2023).

How Do You Make Gin-Soaked Raisins?

A lot of people want to know how to make this arthritis remedy. You would be amazed at the number of questions people have about this seemingly simple treatment. Here are just a few of the questions we get:

A Recipe for  the Home Remedy:

Q. Do you have a recipe for gin-soaked raisins? How much gin is used for every pound of raisins?

My mother has joint pain and it would help her a lot to have some more detailed information!

A. To prepare gin-soaked raisins, start with golden raisins.

Here are some very common questions:

How much gin?

With the raisins in a shallow bowl, pour in just enough gin to barely cover them.

How long do they sit?

Allow the raisins and gin to stand uncovered (or covered with a towel to keep out dust) until the gin has nearly completely evaporated. The raisins will still be very moist. This may take from two days to more than a week, depending on environmental conditions.

How many gin-soaked raisins should I take?

Once the raisins are ready, store them in a tightly closed container. Refrigeration is not necessary. The “dose” is nine (delicious) raisins daily.

We hope your mother finds them helpful. Be sure to watch our video on gin-soaked raisins as a home remedy for arthritis to get more details on the procedure for making this recipe.

Why can’t you eat more than 9? What happens if you do eat more?

Many people expect very specific instructions and answers like the question above. Please remember that these are not scientifically tested pharmaceuticals that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This is mostly trial and error and grandmothers’ wisdom at work. We do not think anything bad would happen if you ate 10 raisins…or even a handful. Whether 20 would work better (or less well) than 9 is anyone’s guess. Keep in mind, though, that eating a large handful of raisins shortly before taking a Breathalyzer test is inadvisable.

Can I use any other alcohol? Why gin in particular?

The original recipe was for gin and golden raisins. We suspect that the juniper in “regular” gin might be contributing something special.

That said, some people have reported benefit from sloe gin.

“Golden raisins soaked in gin were ineffective against my arthritis pain, but raisins in sloe gin were immediately and totally effective. Thanks for the suggestion.”

Regular gin is flavored with juniper berries. This ingredient may be important for the remedy. Sloe gin, on the other hand, is flavored with sloe berries from the blackthorn bush, which was traditionally used for digestive disorders. This isn’t the first time we have heard that sloe gin with raisins may be helpful against arthritis pain. Those who shun alcohol report that vinegar and golden raisins can be helpful.

 Stories from Readers:

Dinny in Tampa, Florida has rheumatoid arthritis. Her story reminds us of Betsy White. Betsy was one of the first people to report great success with what she call the “gin raisin remedy.” It took her about two months to experience improvement.

Dinny got relief a lot faster:

My friend was recently diagnosed with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and I have it as well. She heard about this golden raisins and gin recipe and passed it on to me. Her swollen knee got better and her hand pain is gone. I had an RA flare and within two days it was gone. It has made a believer of me. Thank you.

Beth in Canton, Georgia, offers an interesting twist on the raisin remedy:

I have eaten 9 gin-soaked raisins a day for three years and have no joint pain at age 72. Don’t use organic raisins. They’re not exposed to sulfur dioxide gas (sulphites) before drying like Sun Maid. Isn’t that why Sun Maid raisins must be used in the gin-soaked raisin (GSR) recipe-“sulphites react with the gin to make an herbal tincture,” right?

“Bombay Sapphire Gin has the most anti-inflammatory ingredients. GSRs are famous for being a highly anti-inflammatory pain-relieving food that doesn’t cause stomach, liver or kidney damage as pharmaceutical drugs do. I’ll never stop eating them daily.”

Here are some other stories from visitors to this website:

“I’m still on the raisins and love this home remedy. Not only did it completely rid my knees of RA [rheumatoid arthritis] but now the RA is gone from my left shoulder….amazing.

“I have given this information to ALL my doctors and they listen with interest. I give them my card with the www.PeoplesPharmacy.com web site and they tell me they will check on it. We read your articles in the Palm Beach Post. Keep up your very good work.”

Georges C. shared the recipe with a relative:

“I always look forward to your column in the LA Times. We were visiting family up in Oregon and my sister-in-law showed me your book.

“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 the pain disappeared after two days’ dose of raisins. I would like to buy a copy of your book. Please tell me how to obtain it.”

Gerry would like to use dark raisins:

“I  have  tried gin and raisins for arthritis and have had great success.  I am now pain free and no longer require any medication.  Why do you need to use the golden raisins?  They are more expensive and sometimes are hard to find in the store. Please let know if the dark raisins work  just as well as the golden ones.”

We cannot say why golden raisins are the preferred approach. Some folks report that dark raisins work just as well. Others tell us that vodka works instead of gin. And a few people have substituted apple cider vinegar for gin or vodka. Not everyone gets benefit, but we are constantly amazed at how many people report success with this approach.

Learn More:

Have you ever tried this home remedy? If so, please share your experience in the comment section below. People who like home remedies often love our book from National Geographic: The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. Arthritis sufferers may also find our 104-page book, Graedons’ Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis of great value. It has lots of nondrug approaches for dealing with joint pain.

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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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  • Yu G et al, "Effectiveness of Boswellia and Boswellia extract for osteoarthritis patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis." BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, July 17, 2020. DOI: 10.1186/s12906-020-02985-6
  • Christman LM et al, "Muscadine grape (vitis rotundifolia) and wine polyphenols alleviated arthritis and restored the gut microbial composition in mice." Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, June 2023. DOI: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2023.109311
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