Pickle Juice for Leg Cramps?

by karen on August 30, 2019

I have a client who swears that if she gets a leg cramp in the middle of the night, she hobbles into the kitchen for a swig of pickle juice from the jar of dill pickles, and before she can get the jar back in the fridge, the cramp is gone. So, when I had another client inform me that he buys pickle juice “shots” online and they relieve his leg cramps as well, I realized this pickle juice remedy might really be a thing. And more fascinating still is that there are an abundance of companies who now market pickle juice “shots.”

What the Research Shows

It does appear that pickle juice relieves leg cramps in 30 to 90 seconds. Most people who use pickle juice for leg cramps believe it works because of the electrolytes it contains. Pickle juice does have lots of sodium, which is an electrolyte, and trace amounts of potassium, another electrolyte, and electrolyte imbalances are likely contributing in part to the muscle cramp forming. But this is not the reason pickle juice works.

The cramp-relieving effect of pickle juice cannot be explained by rapid restoration of hydration from a state of dehydration, either. Research reveals that the benefit is likely due to a nerve-mediated reflex in the back of the throat: when the pickle juice is swallowed, it appears the acetic acid contained in the juice shuts off the nerve impulse that triggers the cramping of the muscle.

The human body will never cease to amaze me.

Should You Jump on the Pickle Juice Bandwagon?

If you suffer from frequent muscle cramps, hydration and electrolyte maintenance are important conditions to prevent cramps. Drink sufficient fluid: your body weight multiplied by 15 will give you roughly the right amount of milliliters (ml) to drink per day. There are 240 ml per cup if you count your water intake that way, and 30 ml per ounce. As long as the intake is moderate, caffeinated beverages can count as fluid, and I read the other day that a beer is almost as hydrating as water, so—consumed in moderation—most all beverages count toward your hydration goal.

We get more than enough sodium in our diet, and pickle juice has minimal potassium, so we don’t need to drink brine as a preventive. Reread my potassium blog for information on potassium, and where to get it in your diet. Here’s a breakdown of the nutrient intake in pickle juice: it shows virtually no nutritional value, but 38% of your day’s worth of sodium.

 Pickle Juice Nutrition Facts

Serving Size                            1 fluid oz (31g)

Per Serving

% Daily Value*

Calories 25

Calories from Fat 0.5

Total Fat 0.1g


Saturated Fat 0g


Polyunsaturated Fat 0g

Monounsaturated Fat 0g

Cholesterol 0mg


Sodium 877mg


Potassium 5.6mg


Carbohydrates 5.9g


Dietary Fiber 0.1g


Sugars 5.7g

Protein 0.1g

Vitamin A 0.1% · Vitamin C 1%

Calcium 0.2% · Iron 0.3%

*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Remember, acetic acid is the active component of apple cider vinegar that we discussed in last week’s blog, it stands to reason that we can skip all the salt in the pickle juice and go straight for the apple cider vinegar again. If you prefer the taste of the pickle juice over vinegar, just make sure you sodium intake can take the hit.

Karen Fisher, MS, RD, LDN, CDE is a dietitian in Reno, Nevada, happily promoting the benefits of healthy foods at her nutrition consulting firm, Nutrition Connection. Find her website atwww.NutritionConnectionNV.com

To find a nutrition expert in your area, go to the academy website – Find an Expert https://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: