Does Pickle Juice Relieve Muscle Cramps?

Pickle juice

Muscle cramps are common among persons with cirrhosis and associated with poor health-related quality of life. Treatment options are limited. We sought to determine whether pickle juice can improve muscle cramp severity.

A recent study involved a group of patients with cirrhosis who had a history of muscle cramps, which is common among persons with cirrhosis and associated with poor health-related quality of life. Treatment options are limited. The study sought to determine whether pickle juice can improve muscle cramp severity. Symptoms experienced by people who have cirrhosis include poor sleep, frailty, pruritus, and muscle cramps. About 2 in 3 people with cirrhosis suffer from muscle cramps.

Cramps cause pain, interfere with sleep, and limit mobility. Although the treatment of cramps has been explored in multiple studies, safe, effective treatments for cramps remain limited. And those treatment programs that are effective are expensive.

The role of pickle juice in cramp management

The acetic acid of pickle brine is felt to act as a way to modify receptors of acid-sensing ion channels, triggering nerve conduction that aborts the cramp without changing serum electrolytes. This mechanism of action is not specific to cirrhosis but works with other issues that cause cramps as well. However this cramp therapy must be taken at the time of a cramp. Pickle juice is likely to be most effective for people with cramps that are frequent (where the effort to keep pickle juice on hand is worthwhile), long-lasting or both. Patients with cirrhosis frequently suffer from high-frequency, long-lasting cramps. As pickle juice does not prevent cramps, additional therapies may be warranted for cramp prevention.

How much pickle juice do I need? Surprisingly not that much- a single tablespoon is enough pickle juice to sooth a cramp. It is recommended not to take more that 3 tablespoons in a day due to the high sodium content in the juice. A tablespoon contains 25 mg of sodium, and thus, 75 mg daily is the recommended daily sodium limit. It is also best to use brine from dill or kosher pickles, not sweet or bread and butter.

Given that the mechanism of action is thought to be acid related, future comparisons with apple cider vinegar may be warranted.

Source: The American College of Gastroenterology

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