Pickle Juice & Leg Cramps

PicklesEveryone loves a good pickle, and not just a pregnant woman. As most of you know a pickle starts out as a cucumber. They are technically a fruit related to the melon and squash plant families. The pickle history dates back to 2030 B.C. when it has been said they were preserved by people living in the India and Tigris Valley regions.  

Cucumbers come in two categories, slicing cucumbers that are larger and thick-skinned, and pickling cucumbers that are smaller and thinner-skinned. Even though cucumbers are 90% water they still manage to provide a number of valuable health benefits. A single cup of chopped cucumbers provides 11% of the vitamin K which fights inflammation, 4% of vitamin C which combats infection, 4% of the pantothenic acid which produces energy, 4% of the manganese which builds strong bones and 4% each of the potassium and magnesium that promote heart health. One study has shown that well-known chemotherapeutic agents, such as doxorubicin and gemcitabine, are in cucumbers and may be significant in future cancer research.

Over centuries the cucumber has been used for headache relief and to soothe tired and puffy eyes. In clinical studies they have been found to have antioxidant capabilities and more importantly, they are plants that have natural cancer-killing compounds. Athletes drinking pickle juice before an athletic performance has been a popular theory for some time for enhancement. Kevin Miller, Ph.D., and an independent team of scientists, artificially induced leg cramps in study participants who then were given pickle brine to drink. This resulted in eased cramping within 30 to 60 seconds. The pickle brine overwhelmed the neuroreceptors and caused them to reset the neurological impulse that dictated the cramps.

There are trace amounts of carbohydrates, minerals and sometimes probiotic bacteria in pickle juice along with high amounts of salt. With the nutrition in the actual cucumbers and the additional pickling ingredients, pickle juice is recognized for having potent health benefits such as:

  • Vinegar for stomach pain or nausea is a remedy, which is why pickle juice is tapped for this purpose. It may help restore stomach acidity when someone has unusually low production of gastric juices. However, do NOT drink pickle juice if you have an ulcer.
  • Some claim that drinking pickle juice can fight heart disease and help cure cancer.
  • Scientists say there’s no evidence that blotting pickle juice onto sunburned skin will offer any relief, yet it’s still a popular method.
  • If you’ve ever had a muscle cramp, these are really painful.  Some people believe drinking pickle juice might be a way to stave them off beforehand and ease them once one sets in.

Pickle juice may induce swelling, bloating and water retention due to the high amount of salt content. These results may bring on gout or exacerbate the problem due to the high acidity.  Cucumbers are also high on the pesticide residue list. Buy organic cucumbers or grow your own to avoid risk of pesticide exposure. Cucumbers are natural ethylene generators, so they initiate the ripening process in other fruits and vegetables such as bananas, melons and tomatoes, so you’d be best to store them in separate places.

 – Dr Fredda Branyon

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