Hear me out, I know it sounds weird, but pickle juice has some pretty amazing and surprising health benefits that you probably didn’t even know about. Pickles are fermented cucumbers (that have been pickled in salt water). Get it? The pickles are pickled! (A little pickle pun never hurt anyone!)
The fact is pickle juice is loaded with minerals, only 2 carbs, and 1 gram of fiber. In most cases, the water even contains healthy probiotic strains. In some states, like North Carolina where my daughter lives, pickle juice is highly regarded! So much so, that there is an annual pickle festival! When dining in NC, many restaurants have pickle juice mixed with soda on the menu. A drink called a “Pickleback Shot” combines pickle brine with whiskey! Drink that right before your next Pickleball match! 😂
There are all kinds of specialty drinks depending on where you live. So, while it may sound like face-puckering thought, pickle juice is utilized for many quick fixes!
As for its medicinal benefits, here are 3 pretty cool ways pickle juice can improve your wellness:
Pickle Juice May Help Digestion
On some level, the lactobacillus content (while low) still provides a beneficial aid to your intestinal HEALTH. If you have an upset stomach, abdominal cramps or low stomach acid production (hypochlorhydria), the acidity of a small amount of pickle juice may restore proper pH, which in turn causes digestive troubles to subside.
2. Pickle Juice May Alleviate Leg Cramps
Have a cramp? Pickle juice is a popular folk remedy that supposedly relieves muscle cramps (or reduces intensity), in under a minute of consumption! Like, almost immediately! It works incredibly fast and is faster than water alone when it comes to reducing muscle cramps. It probably works faster than things like Gatorade or other similar sports drinks!
Some suggest pickle juice for the morning after a night of drinking… I don’t know about that one, but I do think it could definitely help you recover from a workout or associated leg cramps. That’s probably its #1 folk remedy use.
According to this 2010 STUDY, pickle juice has a very interesting mechanism of action in terms of its ability to relieve cramps.
More specifically, “Pickle juice, and not deionized water, inhibits electrically induced muscle cramps in hypohydrated humans. This effect could not be explained by rapid restoration of body fluids or electrolytes. We suspect that the rapid inhibition of the electrically induced cramps reflects a neurally mediated reflex that originates in the oropharyngeal region and acts to inhibit the firing of alpha motor neurons of the cramping muscle.”
Perhaps a few spoonfuls in a cup of water could help. I wouldn’t drink it straight up if you are prone to heartburn or have an ulcer. Pickle juice contains a lot of sodium, and some believe that it triggers reflexes that essentially shut off misfiring neurons quickly, thereby alleviating cramps. If you’re interested in another article I’ve written on leg cramps, read 14 Quick Hacks for Leg Cramps.
It works so well I heard a rumor that Gatorade is considering releasing a pickle-flavored drink at some point. The earliest renders of the now famous fruity-flavored Gatorade drink actually consisted of a mixture of water, sodium, sugar, potassium, phosphate, and lemon juice. If you pen out a formula for cucumbers (to turn them into pickles), that would be the perfect recipe! Other companies have jumped on the pickle train too, so there are several pickle juice drinks on the market as we speak!
3. Pickle Juice Might Help with Type 2 Diabetes
Vinegar is part of the pickle brine, and some studies suggest that vinegar can slightly reduce blood sugar spikes that normally occur after meals. Furthermore, vinegar may help with the body’s response to insulin. Obviously, I’m not suggesting this as a chronic, long-term solution, but in a pinch, a sip of pickle juice may be able to dampen BLOOD SUGAR due to the vinegar content.
On this continuum of blood sugar and insulin, you may find that you are better able to control your appetite once your blood sugar is more stable. So a pickle a day can help with cravings.
We probably all have a dusty, sealed jar of old pickles that we’ve forgotten about, and if you’re like me, it’s probably sitting in the back corner of our fridge waiting for a sandwich! Make sure yours are fresh, and in date, and if you eat these little guys, eat them in moderation! They’re high in sodium as a general rule. All good things in moderation as you know!
So here’s what you need to do. Eat all the pickles and then save the pickle juice. Don’t pour it down the drain. Save it for maybe 3-4 months, just in case you have a cramp, or your tummy bothers you. Add a few teaspoons to our favorite Bleu Cheese or Ranch salad dressing! Try it in a drink if you dare! There are so many things those pickle juices can be used for – I would hate to see a good pickle juice go to waste!
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.