Pickle Juice Is The ‘Superdrink’ You Never Knew You Needed

In a pickle? Try this.

Pickle juice is the new Powerade. That’s right: after watching the epic men’s Australian Open Tennis final yesterday, it seems half the country is sold on The Salty Stuff. Never mind that it didn’t help Medvedev escape the pickle he found himself in, the fact that he so persistently turned to pickle juice to avoid cramp had Twitter babbling about its benefits (and the term ‘pickle juice’ blowing up in Google).

A couple of hours into the dramatic final, world number #2 Medvedev started drinking small bottles of pickle juice in an effort to avoid cramp, as Nadal started to find his groove. Pickle juice, as the internet raced to discover last night, is a drink that is commonly consumed by athletes (across all sorts of codes) due to its ability to ward of muscle cramps.

Healthline explains: “While it hasn’t been proven yet, researchers posit that pickle juice may help cramps by triggering muscular reflexes when the liquid contacts the back of the throat.”

“This reflex shuts down the misfiring of neurons in muscle all over the body, and ‘turns off’ the cramping feeling. It’s thought that it’s specifically the vinegar content in pickle juice that does this.”

It hasn’t been proven beyond doubt though, with Healthline adding: “Still, more research is needed to prove if this is exactly how pickle juice works to prevent cramps. While there are no studies proving that pickle juice doesn’t work, or that it’s a placebo, more research supports that it does indeed work by this mechanism.”

A study by The Cooper Institute states that: “Yes, there is research showing pickle juice shortens muscle cramp duration, but not because of its high electrolyte concentration.” The study also explains that it takes about 30 minutes for even small volumes (2/3 cup) of pickle juice to leave the stomach, which is why pickle juice, contrary to what you might assume, doesn’t prevent cramps by giving you more electrolytes (“hence, blood electrolyte levels would not increase quickly enough to explain cramp relief) but rather it’s about how it impacts your nervous system.

The Cooper Institute explains: “The acetic acid in pickle juice is ‘noxious tasting’ and proposed to chemically stimulate a reflex in the back of the throat. This reflex has been shown to decrease activity in the alpha motor neurons which causes muscle relaxation. You don’t even have to swallow the pickle juice to trigger the reflex, which can relieve cramps in less than 3-4 minutes.”

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According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are other, more general, health benefits to drinking pickle juice. They claim it can help with blood sugar regulation, they say it’s a probiotic powerhouse, and they say it can also be a hangover cure.

As for how much pickle juice like Medvedev was drinking costs, Sportsbet.com.au suggested last night that $99 was the amount (perhaps in jest?). Enterprising Twitter users like @HedgeFund, however, found that the same looking bottle of pickle juice is available to be bought online for AU $3.25.

Who knew. Maybe pickle juice could be just the drink you need the next time you’re in a pickle. What a prickly thought.

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