People with arthritis usually rely on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen for pain relief, but these medicines can cause trouble if a person takes them for a long time. That leaves arthritis sufferers in a dilemma. How can they ease sore joints without suffering side effects of heartburn, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart attacks, skin rash, tinnitus and liver injury, among other problems? Many people try home remedies to see if they can help. We have heard from many readers that pectin and grape juice can be helpful.
A Remedy to Ease Sore Joints?
Q. I have suffered from arthritis for years, so I was skeptical of your recommendation of pectin in grape juice. Every morning, I do bending and flexing exercises to try to maintain my range of motion. Previously, I could move my right arm about 4 inches, but it made me wince. Today, after consuming “purple pectin” for several weeks, I can move my arm as far in both directions as a person without arthritis, with very little pain. My other exercises have also improved. Thank you for writing about this remedy to ease sore joints.
What Is “Purple Pectin”?
A. Thanks for sharing your experience. Many readers have benefited from taking six ounces or so of “Purple Pectin” daily for joint pain. The first instructions we got were for two teaspoons of Certo in three ounces of Concord grape juice three times a day. Certo is a liquid pectin that home cooks use to thicken jams and jellies. It may be found in the home canning section of the supermarket.
Some people find that drinking three ounces of grape juice three times a day is too much trouble. They may prefer a simplified version and stir a tablespoon of liquid pectin into six or eight ounces of grape juice that they consume just once a day. Because it is a home remedy, we encourage readers to adjust it so it suits their lifestyle.
You can learn more about pectin in grape juice as well as other ways to ease sore joints in our eGuide to Favorite Home Remedies.
Do You Really Need Grape Juice for This Remedy to Work?
Home remedies are rarely the subjects of scientific study, and this one is no exception. We have never seen a randomized controlled trial of pectin and grape juice. That makes it hard to answer the good questions this curious reader asks:
Q. As I was taking my daily glass of pectin in grape juice, I got to wondering if the grape juice is important. Does it play an active role, or is it just a medium for the pectin, to make it more palatable or easier to consume? What if you just took a couple of teaspoons of liquid pectin, or even, if you had small enough spoons, an eighth of a teaspoon of powdered pectin? Would it be able to perform the same function (whatever that is)? Do you have any idea?
A. We first heard about the benefits of drinking grape juice with Certo (liquid pectin) 25 years ago. A couple had tried gin-soaked raisins and found them ineffective for arthritis pain. On the other hand, taking two teaspoons of Certo in three ounces of grape juice three times a day eased their joint pain.
Since then, we have heard from hundreds of other readers who have had success with this approach. Whether it’s the pectin, the grape juice or the combination is unknown. We suggest doing your own experiment and reporting the results. Other readers will likely be interested.
Anyone who would like to learn more about these or hundreds of other kitchen table treatments may be interested in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. If it’s not in your local library, you can find it here.
Looking for Alternatives to Ease Sore Joints:
Q. I am unable to take any of the NSAIDs for severe arthritis. I wanted to try the Certo and grape juice remedy to see if it would help.
Unfortunately, Certo has dextrose (corn) as the first ingredient, as do most of the other fruit pectin brands. I’m allergic to corn in any form.
Is it the dextrose, the fruit pectin or gelatin in general mixed with the grape juice that helps? I can find apple fruit pectin, which avoids the corn problem, but it’s really expensive.
Is There a Substitute for Certo and Grape Juice?
A. Grape juice has anti-inflammatory properties, but we suspect that pectin may also be helpful. Have you tried Pomona’s Universal Pectin? It is powdered citrus pectin rather than a liquid like Certo, but it has no dextrose or other corn products.
Mixing it requires a different approach from the usual Certo & grape juice recipe, since powdered pectin does not dissolve easily.
One reader received these instructions from the company:
“Mix 1 teaspoon Pomona’s Universal Pectin with 1/3 cup boiling water in a food processor or blender until the pectin is dissolved. This will give you a liquid pectin that is the same concentration as Certo. It can then be used as a replacement for liquid pectin/Certo. Refrigerate any portion not used immediately.”
You can learn about other remedies for joint pain in our online resource, Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. People who prefer a print version will want to order the book, Graedons’ Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. The online guide is too long to print easily.
You are not the first person to look for an alternative. Here is an earlier question.
Alternatives to Certo for Grape Juice Remedy:
Q. Is there a natural alternative to Certo or other sugar-based pectins? I’d like to try pectin with grape or pomegranate juice to reduce inflammation, but I would rather avoid the extra sugar and preservatives.
A. Home canners use plant pectin to make jams and jellies thicken. Without it, they would be runny and not very appetizing.
People have been telling us for years that consuming one tablespoon of Certo (liquid pectin from Kraft) in eight ounces of purple grape juice helps ease sore joints. You may want to try Pomona’s Universal Pectin. It is a low-sugar pectin with no preservatives. We have not heard from anyone who has tried it, so if you do, please let us know if it helps.
One reader, BR, offered this:
“I use Pomona Universal Pectin and am very pleased with the results. I wouldn’t use anything else. The only down side is that once prepared the preserves don’t have a long shelf life. Once the preserves are opened they have to be used within three weeks. I just use smaller jars. You can create your own recipes-Pomona Pectin is absolutely wonderful.”
Another reader, JH, is using pectin and juice to ease sore joints:
“I just started the pectin supplements 5 days ago. Initially, I did not read that it was recommended to use the liquid (which makes sense). Instead, I used a store brand of dry pectin mixed with, for now, Acai juice (got in on sale at a club store). Once I run out, I’ll switch to grape juice. There is a small problem with the powder, it doesn’t mix well. I’ve fixed that issue with a frothing mixer…it might be called something else. I pour the powder while operating the small mixer with the other hand.
“So far, I’ve been happy with the results. Before, I was taking up to 2 lortabs/day and not always living pain-free. My doctor was trying to switch me to a non-narcotic pain medication. After a couple of days, the non-narcotic pain med is adequate enough to control what remains.
“I still have swelling, but the pain levels finally feel manageable. The other benefit is that the fiber from the Acai juice and the bulk from the pectin help me to feel full. Hopefully that will translate to some weight loss.
“I listed my response here because the original poster asked about non-sugar based pectins. My next box of pectin is Sure-Jell from Kraft. It shows zero calories and zero carbs. FYI – My store has the canning supplies in the paper plate isle.
“Someone else mention that the pectin caused diarrhea. The citric acid in the pectin as well as the juice might be the culprit. I’ve found that I must watch how much I consume…and I’m not totally sure what I can do once my body figures out how much citric acid I’ve consumed.”
Later, he added this:
“Ok, ok. It’s true, all pectins are not created equal. I’d purchased the Sure-jell because it was on sale… and didn’t realize that the yellow box is mostly citric acid.
“The store brand I’d been using was mostly pectin. I compared ingredients and the pink Sure-Jell box is equivalent to the store brand that I’d used. Also, I looked at the liquid Certo and it has other ingredients as well.
“I’ve since gone back to the store brand and grape juice. I liked the consistency of the Acai juice. I think after the grape juice is gone, I’ll bite the bullet and purchase the more expensive Acai juice while the club store is still offering it.”
Keep in mind that not everyone will benefit from pectin and juice. Leslie wrote:
“Like a few others, I developed diarrhea and moderate to severe gas and stomach bloating. This happened after 3 days of 1 T Certo to 8 oz of grape juice. I didn’t link the Certo at first, but after reading comments I am sure that is the cause. Two days after stopping the Certo I am still not 100%, though much better. My diet is generally very good with lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and 8-10 glasses of water each day. Something to be aware of; maybe starting with a teaspoon/day and working up gradually to a tablespoon would help to avoid symptoms.”