Have you heard of using gin-soaked golden raisins to ease joint pain? People have been sharing this home remedy with their friends and family members for decades. We have no idea where it comes from or how it might work. Some people don’t find it helpful at all, but many others are enthusiastic about it.
Gin-Soaked Golden Raisins for Joint Pain?
Q. I have been using gin and golden raisins for almost 30 years. It absolutely works for me.
I stopped taking it for a while because of a scheduled surgery. A few weeks later, I noticed I was having joint pain again. I resumed the concoction and am now much more comfortable and flexible.
It does take at least a month for it to start working. You must have patience.
Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Activity:
A. Although we cannot explain it, many people find that gin-soaked golden raisins can be helpful against joint pain. Perhaps the grape polyphenols in the raisins provide anti-inflammatory activity. Some scientists propose that these compounds can help protect people from diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Molecules, Jan. 1, 2017). Australian investigators are currently conducting a study to see if trail mix made from raisins, almonds and dried cranberries improved endurance exercise performance (BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, Aug. 7, 2019). They hypothesize that the grape polyphenols in the raisins may help reduce the oxidative damage caused by extreme exercise.
Q. I have heard you talk about the raisin remedy on your radio show and I have seen reference to it on this website, but there are a lot of details that are missing.
First, how the heck do you soak the raisins in gin? How much gin and for how long?
Do the gin-soaked raisins help rheumatoid arthritis as well as regular arthritis?
Why only 9 raisins? If I eat a dozen will this remedy fail?
Is the alcohol in raisins a problem for someone taking medicine that says avoid alcohol? My husband takes Cialis for erectile dysfunction and the label says to avoid drinking alcohol when taking that drug.
Those are just a few of my questions. Please provide more details about the gin-soaked raisins.
A. Of all the home remedies we have written about over the last 40 years, the “raisin remedy” inevitably gets the most questions and comments. People want to know if they can get drunk on nine gin-soaked raisins. Answer: no. We had nine raisins analyzed for ethanol (alcohol). If the remedy is made and taken correctly, there should only be one drop of ethanol in nine raisins, clearly not enough to get anyone tipsy.
To make this remedy, put the golden raisins in a flat dish and barely cover them with gin. It need not be the most expensive brand, but it should be flavored with actual juniper berries. Cover the dish with a paper towel, if you wish, to protect the raisins from dust or pet fur, but don’t use plastic wrap. The concoction needs to breathe so the gin can evaporate. When there is no liquid in the dish, transfer the raisins to a jar and put the lid on. They will be plump and juicy, not dry. Then, the most important part is the dose: just nine raisins (or one spoonful) a day, not more. The best strategy is to see the process in action. Here is a video we created to help you see exactly how to make the gin-soaked raisin remedy:
Gin-Soaked Raisins for Osteo or Rheumatoid Arthritis
You have to appreciate that home remedies like gin-soaked raisins rarely, if ever, get tested in any scientific manner. That’s because there is no way to patent this treatment. Without a patent there are no drug companies ready to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to do clinical trials. And few, if any, scientists would risk their reputations on such a cockamamie concept. That means we are left with anecdotes.
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Betsy White’s Story:
Betsy White had a bad case of rheumatoid arthritis. She wrote to us a long time ago to say that her arthritis was so bad she could not get out of bed on her own. Her doctor had prescribed a big dose of prednisone and an immune suppressing drug called Imuran (azathioprine). It is used to prevent organ rejection after a transplant. It is also prescribed occasionally for rheumatoid arthritis.
About two months after starting the gin-soaked raisins Betsy was able to get out of bed on her own. She eventually cut back on both the prednisone and the Imuran (with her doctor’s aproval). The last we communicated with Betsy she was still benefitting from the gin-soaked raisins many years later.
Most people report that the raisin remedy is helpful for osteoarthritis. Here are some samples:
“I hate to insult the people with arthritis pain by assuming they haven’t looked into everything they can, but all I can say is: I’ve broken 42+ bones in my body, mainly doing sports, and I’ve had many many soft-tissue injuries as well. EVERY doctor has warned me to expect massive arthritic symptoms as I age, but at 67 I’m stronger than ever, an expert skier and hiker.
“I credit fish oil and hyaluronic acid, both of which lubricate the joints. For years I took chondroitin/glucosamine sulfate but stopped because study results didn’t seem to support a benefit. I also religiously eat gin-soaked golden raisins and if any pain flares up, I add grape juice with Certo. The combination of all this has really served me well and anyone who hasn’t tried some of these simple fixes should definitely do so. Nuthin’ to lose…”
“I have been hearing about this for years, but had never tried it. The topic came up again on The People’s Pharmacy radio show recently, and I decided to try it for my aching hip, fingers and thumb. I didn’t do it right the first time – just dumped gin over brown raisins. Much to my surprise, it worked within 48 hours. There was a big difference in the hip pain, and the gout-like pain in my thumb went away.
“The second batch was done according to the instructions. I can now bend all my fingers, hike several miles with no pain. Thanks People’s Pharmacy!”
“I have had a couple of bad bouts of gout over the last several years. I have also experienced several lesser flare ups which I have been able to abate with tart cherry extract pills, cider vinegar and lots of water. When the last one started I remembered the gin-soaked raisins. My wife and I have both had success with them over the years for various joint afflictions. After 2 days of gin soaked raisins the pain in my toe was completely gone. We now keep a jar in the fridge at all times.”
“I have osteoarthritis and lately my lower back pain has been constant but tolerable. I take a Celebrex 200 mg nightly and without it the pain is really bad. It was very painful to turn in bed and getting up in the morning.
“I prepared the raisins as indicated and have been taking them daily for 3 weeks now. I expected to see some results 4 or 5 weeks later but to my surprise I started having a lot less pain after the 3rd dose. Most of my lumbar stiffness is gone and the pain is almost gone.
“I was reluctant to use this remedy because I don’t like gin. The truth is that all the alcohol seems gone and I cannot detect any gin flavor. I love this remedy and will keep using it.”
Are Gin-Soaked Golden Raisins Safe?
Q. My question regards gin-soaked golden raisins. If a person takes a medication, in my case Toprol-XL, and is not supposed to drink alcoholic beverages because of that, is it harmful to eat nine little raisins daily?
I surely hope not, as I’ve been using those raisins for several years with great success. If I get lazy about it and don’t use them for two or three weeks, my knee pains come back.
Should I tell my doctor about the raisins? I’m not trying to hide it, but I just never think to ask him when I’m in his office. I would hate to give up my raisins.
Gin-Drenched Raisins Should Not Pose Risk of Alcohol Interaction:
A. Metoprolol (Toprol-XL) and other beta blockers such as atenolol and propranolol may interact with alcohol by lowering blood pressure too much. This is usually associated with alcoholic beverages such as a glass or two of wine.
The amount of alcohol in nine raisins (the correct dose) is one drop. It is unlikely that this much will create an interaction with your metoprolol.
Our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis has information on how to make gin-soaked raisins and answers to frequently asked questions. It is important to allow the gin to evaporate fully before consuming the raisins. You should also let your doctor know you are using this remedy, although we don’t expect he will have a great deal of information about it.
What About the Certo in Grape Juice Remedy?
Go back and ready Cindy’s story above. She mentioned Certo in grape juice on top of the gin-soaked raisin remedy. We heard about the Certo in grape juice approach back in 1998:
Canning Aid Conquers Arthritis Pain
Q. In a recent article you expressed surprise that Certo has been used for arthritis since the 1970s. Back in 1945 my 65-year-old grandmother suffered from arthritis in her knees. When a friend told her about the benefits of Certo in fruit juice 2 or 3 times a day, she tried it and was pain free within a few weeks.
At the time I wondered whether this marvelous improvement was due to a placebo effect. During a two-week vacation in Florida she had no access to Certo and was a wreck when she returned. Grandma cried as she crawled to bed on her hands and knees. She returned to taking Certo, and was fine in two weeks.
Following Grandmother’s Example:
A few years ago I noticed persistent pain in my thumbs and shoulder and had to stop playing the piano. When my wrists and elbows became sore, I saw a nurse practitioner who diagnosed osteoarthritis and offered anti-inflammatory pills.
I tried a tablespoon of Certo mixed with fruit juice (mostly grape juice) at breakfast and bedtime. Within a couple of weeks all symptoms disappeared, and I can now play the piano for hours.
When I stopped taking Certo for nine days the pain was excruciating. Going back on Certo banished it. Clearly it is not a cure, but seems helpful and has no worrisome side effects.
Recipe for Certo and Grape Juice:
A. Thank you for sharing your experience with Certo. We have been flooded with requests for the recipe: two teaspoons of Certo in three ounces of grape juice three times a day. We have also heard from people who take one tablespoon of Certo in a full glass of grape juice just once a day. As with most home remedies, the dose is not based in science and could be adjusted.
If you would like to get more details on both the gin-soaked raisin remedy and the Certo and grape juice remedy (plus Sam Houston’s grape juice, apple juice and apple cider vinegar remedy) you may want to consider our book Quick & Handy Home Remedies. Not only will you learn far more about these approaches to treating arthritis, but you will discover hundreds of other simple solutions to common ailments. Here is a link to learn more.
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. Read Terry's Full Bio.
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Rasines-Perea Z et al, "Grape polyphenols' effects in human cardiovascular diseases and diabetes." Molecules, Jan. 1, 2017. DOI: 10.3390/molecules22010068
d'Unienville NMA et al, "Effects of almond, dried grape and dried cranberry consumption on endurance exercise performance, recovery and psychomotor speed: protocol of a randomised controlled trial." BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, Aug. 7, 2019. DOI: 10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000560
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