The Home Remedy: Eating raisins soaked in gin every day reduces the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
I had never heard of this home remedy until I joined Health Central. But this is a popular topic on the website and many people have tried it, so I wanted to look into the subject more.
There are several versions of the recipe listed on this site, but they all require a bowl of yellow raisins and gin or sloe gin. The raisins are placed in a bowl and gin added until it just covers the raisins. The raisins become saturated with the gin and the bowl is left uncovered until the extra gin evaporates. While the amount of raisins to be eaten varies depending on website and author, most recipes and comments I have read recommend eating nine raisins per day.
From what I have read, this home remedy has been around for about 50 years and, like many folk remedies, periodically becomes popular and then falls out of favor. I have been unable to find any scientific research on this remedy, but I have found many Internet articles and blog posts about it.
Some people swear by it, some have stated that the pain and inflammation return soon after they stop eating them.
Other people have found them to be of limited benefit.
There are even companies who market their own formulas for the raisins, adding extra ingredients, like honey, that have their own beneficial properties.
Why does it work for some people? Grapes contain resveratrol in their skins and sometimes in the seeds. It is a compound that is thought to suppress and inhibit enzymes that produce inflammation in the body, at least in lab and animal studies. Other non-human studies have found anti-cancer, anti-aging and antiviral effects. Grape juice and wine also contain varying amounts resveratrol, but perhaps the reason the gin raisins recipe seems to work for many people is that the resveratrol is not as concentrated as in the soaked raisins. I guess the gin creates a more concentrated extract of resveratrol. If that is the case, I wonder why vodka or brandy or other alcohols aren't used as well. Also, other foods, like blueberries, peanuts and bilberries all contain varying amounts of resveratrol. So maybe gin soaked blueberries would work? I wonder if anyone has tried this as well.
So what is my verdict? I think like many folk remedies, this one probably does have pain and inflammation reducing properties. And those properties provide enough people with some relief that they continue to use it and recommend it. But like any drug, treatment, or home remedy, it is unlikely to be the one single answer for anyone with Rheumatoid arthritis. Most people continue to take other arthritis drugs in addition to eating the raisins. And I still recommend a healthy diet, exercise and regular contact with a physician about all drugs or home remedies that one uses.