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Does Gin-Soaked Golden Raisins Help with Joint Pain?

Updated on February 9, 2013

Gin-soaked golden raisins have been talked about for decades as a home remedy for arthritis and joint pain. But does it work?

This home remedy was made popular by well-known ABC radio broadcaster Paul Harvey when he made a radio broadcast about it in the 1994. But the remedy has be around long before then. Since then many of the media has picked up on the story. And this remedy is still being talked about today.

The longevity of the discussion of this remedy gives it some validity.

As mentioned on PeoplesPharmacy.com, they said ...

"We have received more mail about this "raisin remedy" than any other home remedy we have written about."[4]

Joe Graedon of People's Pharmacy also mentioned about gin-soaked golden raisins in an April 2008 radio broadcast of "The Sound of Ideas".

How To Make Gin Soaked Golden Raisins

You can find the recipe for gin-soaked golden raisins on People's Pharmacy article.[4]

It is very easy to make. We are not going to make our own raisins; you can buy golden raisins from your store. All you need is golden raisins and gin and a jar. Put the raisins in the jar, fill it with gin up to the level that it covers all the raisins. Let the gin evaporate (for example, letting it sit in your kitchen table for a week). And then just eat nine raisins a day. You can eat it all by itself. Or you can put it into cereal or oatmeal.

Does Gin-Soaked Golden Raisins Reduce Joint Pain?

Based on what was found on the web, some people say that it does not work. Others say that it works remarkably well. You can decide for yourself by reading the user comments on People's Pharmacy website linked here.

Article on arthritis.about.com also talked about gin-soaked golden raisin as home remedy for arthritis. It offers several theories as to why it might work. However these theories have not been proven conclusively through scientific double-blind placebo-controlled studies (that we are aware of). These theories include the possibility that it might be the raisins, it might be the juniper berries from the gin, it might be the sulfides use in preserving the color of the golden raisins, or it might simply be due to the placebo effect. And arthritis is a type of condition that is susceptible to the placebo effect.

Snopes.com is a site dedicated to debunking urban legends and myths. What does Snopes have to say about gin soaked raisins? In the link here, it say it is "undetermined" and that "although it has never been properly studied, has nevertheless gained adherents over the years".

Snopes did mention that it needs to be golden raisins, also known as white raisins -- not the regular black type.

Yes, Gin Soaked Golden Raisin Works

More recently in April 2011, FoxNews reports ...

"And given the number of people who have tried this remedy and had relief, it’s fair to say that this one works. How? We’re not completely sure, but we have some very good ideas."[3]

One of those ideas include the fact that golden raisins comes from sultana grapes which contain sources of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds known as resveratrol and catechins. Arthritis, being an inflammatory disease of the joint, can be alleviated by anti-inflammatory compounds.

The second component gin is made from juniper berries which are also anti-inflammatory.

Furthermore, the combination of soaking the raisins in gin may bring out those compounds making it more readily absorb-able by the body. In the article, it also does say that it must be golden raisins.

No, It Doesn't Work

The counter argument (mainly referenced from the Snopes article[2]) goes as follow.  Juniper berries is only used to flavor the gin.  There is actually very little of it in the gin itself.  When the raisins are soaked in gin, you are only picking up very little gin in the raisins anyway.

Raisins is not a large source of resveratrol.  Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes (not the ones used in golden raisins) and are destroyed in the making of the raisins.   The level of proanthocyanidins in raisins are very low or undetectable.

WhFoods.com says ...

"raisins do contain fewer phenols than grapes since many of grape's phenols are largely lost in the conversion of grapes to raisins. These phenols include the hydroxycinnamics (caftaric and coutaric acids), procyanidins, and flavan-3-ols."[5]

Why Nine Gin-Soaked Golden Raisins?

Why the recipe calls for eating nine raisins per day? Why not 10? I suppose you can eat 10 raisins per day if you want to. Or eight for that matter.

And in fact, some recipes calls for eating 10 raisins, instead of nine. Just because 10 is a nice round number.

Although we do not know in what part of the world this remedy originated from, it is true that in some Asian cultures, they view the number 9 as a "lucky number".[6]

Conclusion

Like many regiments, whether it works or not is individual dependent. Depending on the individual, it may or may not work. Since it is only gin and golden raisins, there's not much harm in giving it a try to performing your own experiment.

Note that golden raisins does contain sulfites which are used to preserve the color of the raisins. Some people with sulfite-sensitivity may have serious reactions to them.

Since gin is alcohol, do this only if you do not have any medical conditions that would be made worse by alcohol. Do this only "in addition to", and not as "a replacement for", the treatment and medication prescribed by your doctor.

Web search "gin-soaked golden raisins" and you will find lots of testimonials and more information about it. This article is only an introduction to those who have never heard of it before.

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