Pickle Juice for Cramps: Does It Work?
19% of athletic trainers take pickle juice as a prophylaxis for muscle cramps. Some people believe that pickle juice is more effective than other sports drinks. You may wonder what is the science behind using pickle juice for muscle cramps and whether it is effective or not.
A study by the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Science, North Dakota State University, indicates that muscle cramps were relieved within 85 seconds among athletes who took pickle juice after exercise. Its effect was 37% more than water drinkers and 45% greater than those who didn’t take anything. It shows pickle juice is effective for muscle cramps.
This blog will detail the benefits of pickle juice, how it works, and its side effects.
Benefits of Pickle Juice
Pickle juice has long been a favorite product due to its taste and health benefits. There are several health benefits of pickle juice, like:
- It reduces the duration of muscle cramps
- Boosts energy performance
- Improve sleep
- A good remedy for sunburn.
- Treats sore throat.
- Pickle juice is rich in vinegar which is known to maintain blood sugar levels.
- It supports a healthy gut environment because it contains lactobacillus (healthy gut bacteria).
- It is rich in electrolytes, mainly sodium and potassium and helps you stay hydrated.
- It has antioxidant properties.
- It also helps to support your weight loss effort.
- It also helps in post-workout recovery.
Also Read: How to Prevent Leg Cramps at Night?
How does pickle juice help with cramps?
Pickle juice helps alleviate the duration of muscle cramps. Before knowing how pickle juice helps with cramps, let’s get into the exact mechanism of pickle juice.
Muscle cramps are painful contractions and tightening of muscles. During a muscle spasm, receptors in the muscles (spindle muscle fibers and golgi tendon) alter the activity of alpha motor neurons in muscles. Alpha motor neurons (also known as lower motor neurons) are involved in the innervation of skeletal muscles that cause muscle contractions.
Muscle spasm increases the activity of the alpha motor neurons that spikes up the contraction of muscles, leading to pain. Pickle juice regulates electrolyte balance in your body and helps reduce muscle cramps.
On the other hand, it is suggested that acetic acid in pickle juice stimulates a reflex in your throat. This reflex helps reduce the activity of alpha motor neurons in your muscles and causes muscle relaxation.
Does it really work?
Pickle juice is a widely used drink in the sports world to alleviate muscle cramps. Athletes and runners sweat a lot and lose electrolytes. Sipping pickle juice can replenish body fluids and electrolytes and prevent dehydration. It maintains sodium levels in the body.
Pickle juice has 80 times more sodium and 20 times more potassium than regular sports drinks. So, it can quickly act on your body and prevent electrolyte deficiency.
Pickle juice prevents headaches after exercise and hangouts. Pickle juice is rich in acetic acid that metabolizes carbohydrates and provides energy to your body. Moreover, it regulates blood sugar levels.
Know More: Magnesium for Leg Cramps
Are there any side effects to drinking pickle juice?
Drinking fluid in a balanced way supports your electrolyte balance. But drinking too much fluid can have potential side effects on your body. Taking too much pickle juice can cause:
- Bloating, gas, stomach pain, swelling, and water retention because drinking too much pickle juice disrupts your electrolyte balance. As pickle juice is high in sodium, it can cause water retention.
- Increases blood pressure due to high sodium levels.
- The acetic acid in pickle juice worsens your stomach ulcers if you have stomach problems.
- It can cause cardiovascular complications.
- Drinking too much pickle juice causes electrolyte imbalance and worsens muscle spasms.
How much should you drink for cramps?
You can drink pickle juice to relieve muscle cramps, but the dose should be according to the recommendation. The recommended dose of drinking pickle juice is about 1 milliliter/kg of body weight. You can drink approximately 2 to 3 ounces on average.
Drinking small amounts or a rough shot is also acceptable. But drinking pickle juice without any limitation can have serious potential side effects on your body. In case of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disorders and heart problems, avoid taking pickle juice. It can enhance sodium levels in the body leading to the worsening of heart problems.
Pickle juice is effective for muscle cramps. Some research studies indicate it quickly relieves muscle cramps, but few studies debunk this idea.
More research is still needed. You can take pickle juice but not in excess. People with heart problems and chronic diseases should be cautious while taking pickle juice.
How long does it take for pickle juice to stop cramps?
Studies suggest that ingesting a small amount of pickle juice relieves your muscle cramps within 35 seconds. It reduces alpha motor neuron activity.
On the other hand, it also relieves your muscle cramps by rehydration, but it takes about 25 to 30 minutes to reach blood circulation.