This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Anyone who has experienced muscle cramps knows that they can be extremely painful, and even potentially debilitating while they persist. Water typically does not offer fast relief, and sports drinks, magnesium ionic fizz and bananas, among other popular remedies, generally take time to work as well. However, research has cited pickle juice (yes, pickle juice) as an exciting and potentially fast-working cure for muscle cramps.
The investigation into the effects of pickle juice on muscle cramps was performed by the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences at North Dakota State University. Researchers sought to compare the benefits of drinking water with those of drinking pickle juice in regards to muscle cramps in hypohydrated male subjects, or in other words, dehydrated males.
To perform the test, researchers induced muscle cramps in the flexor hallucis brevis (FHB), a small muscle located in the foot, by percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation.
Two cramps were induced for the test, the second coming thirty minutes after the initial stimulation. After the induction of the first muscle cramp, participants were not given any fluids. However, after the second induced cramp, they were provided with either water or pickle juice. The duration of the muscle cramps was then timed for both groups of participants. Lending strength to the findings of the study, these series of tests were performed on two different days, one week apart.
The comparison between the effects of water and pickle juice on muscle cramps was based on the time duration of the cramps. Interestingly, for those participants who were given pickle juice instead of water, the average cramp duration was 49.1 (+/- 14.6) seconds shorter. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that pickle juice inhibits electrically induced muscle cramps in hypohydrated humans, but water does not. Researchers also examined the effects of the two liquids on plasma composition at five minutes after fluid ingestion, but found little impact.
The results of North Dakota State University’s study strongly suggest that pickle juice may help to quickly relieve muscle cramps, but as with many basic, early studies, further research and evidence is needed. Among other possibilities, complementing studies performed on different muscles, via different types of muscle stimulation, different time intervals and both genders, would all help to strengthen the conclusion of the research.
Nevertheless, there is a legitimate basis of evidence to believe that pickle juice may help to shorten the duration of muscle cramps.