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Thursday, October 14,2010

Local company sells gin-soaked raisins for arthritis pain

By Mitchell Byars

 

For years, Larry Wright struggled with arthritis pain in his hands. Then he found an unusual remedy for his pain in gin-soaked raisins, and now he’s trying to spread the relief to others.

 

Wright has started a company based in Lafayette called DrunkenRaisins, which sells gin-soaked raisins online. Wright himself started using the raisins about four years ago when conventional methods weren’t working for the pain he was experiencing in his hands.

“The doctors prescribed me painkillers and even suggested an operation, and I thought, ‘There’s something wrong with this picture,’” Wright says. “That was about the time my life-partner Trudy told me to look at this article about gin-soaked raisins.”

A popular folk remedy for arthritis for years, gin-soaked raisins are made by soaking white raisins in gin for around two weeks before being dried out in a “sobering” process. While it seems there have been no formal studies on their effects, most people believe that the relief comes from the anti-inflammatory effects of juniper berries — the ingredient in gin that gives the drink its flavor — and the sulfates that give white raisins their bleached color.

Wright looked up the recipe online and began to make his own gin-soaked raisins. When he began eating the raisins, he immediately noticed the pain in his hands subsided.

“I would take 12 on a day when my hands were hurting, and in about 15 minutes I would feel relief,” he says.

Soon, Wright was making and selling the raisins to his friends and making his own changes to the recipe. But he always wondered why there was no place to buy gin-soaked raisins on the market.

“When I started to improve the recipe and was making them for my friends I asked, ‘Why doesn’t someone make these and sell them?’” Wright says.

One thing led to another, and DrunkenRaisins was born. In addition to soaking the raisins in gin, Wright also coats the raisins in cinnamon and honey to improve the taste. Cinnamon and honey are also rumored to have anti-inflammatory effects of their own.

“The honey and cinnamon took it a long way toward making it something more palatable,” Wright says. “I wanted to make it a tastier morsel so that people don’t have to have arthritis to appreciate them.”

While the honey and cinnamon add a sweet flavor, the gin is still the dominant taste in the raisins, and while it is not possible to get drunk off of the raisins, Wright says that non-drinkers might need to get used to the flavor.

“My impression is that people who don’t drink find it a little offensive,” he says. “Other people who will drink from time to time will not be offended. Then there are some people who love to have them after dinner with some wine.”

For those who don’t exactly enjoy the flavor of gin, Wright says to think of it as taking medicine. Eight to nine of the raisins a day should do the trick, but people who are just starting to eat the raisins might want to start out taking twice that amount in the first two weeks to kick-start the effect of the raisins.

“Some people notice immediate results, for some people it can take a little longer,” Wright says. “But in excess of 80 percent of people have had positive results. Besides, it’s food, so if it doesn’t help, there is nothing lost.”

As far as how to eat the raisins, you are limited only by your own imagination. Wright says that in addition to eating them as is, he has put them in oatmeal and in smoothies. But he has also heard of people who have put them on ice cream, on chocolate and even in the classic ants on a log (raisins in peanut butter on a stick of celery). The only limitation: cooking the raisins will negate their anti-inflammatory effect, so baking them into your oatmeal cookies won’t work.

DrunkenRaisins are sold by the pound exclusively through drunkenraisins.com. Orders range from one pound at $24.95 to 10 pounds at $179.50, with one pound equivalent to a month’s worth of raisins at the prescribed dose. Wright is hoping that people dealing with arthritis pain will find the same relief he did in the gin-soaked raisins.

“Before, I had a hard time buttoning buttons and zipping zippers,” Wright says. “Now, my golf game is as good as it’s ever been.

“It’s always fun to run into someone who says they know someone who is trying this and is getting relief. Hopefully this can come alive again, because I think it can help a lot of people.”

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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