Electrolyte and Plasma Responses After Pickle Juice, Mustard, and Deionized Water Ingestion in Dehydrated Humans

J Athl Train. 2014 Feb 12. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-48.6.21. Online ahead of print.


Context : Some athletes ingest pickle juice (PJ) or mustard to treat exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMCs). Clinicians warn against this because they are concerned it will exacerbate exercise-induced hypertonicity or cause hyperkalemia. Few researchers have examined plasma responses after PJ or mustard ingestion in dehydrated, exercised individuals. Objective : To determine if ingesting PJ, mustard, or deionized water (DIW) while hypohydrated affects plasma sodium (Na+) concentration ([Na+]p), plasma potassium (K+) concentration ([K+]p), plasma osmolality (OSMp), or percentage changes in plasma volume or Na+ content. Design : Crossover study. Setting : Laboratory. Patients or Other Participants : A total of 9 physically active, nonacclimated individuals (age = 25 ± 2 years, height = 175.5 ± 9.0 cm, mass = 78.6 ± 13.8 kg). Intervention(s) : Participants exercised vigorously for 2 hours (temperature = 37°C ± 1°C, relative humidity = 24% ± 4%). After a 30-minute rest, a baseline blood sample was collected, and they ingested 1 mL/kg body mass of PJ or DIW. For the mustard trial, participants ingested a mass of mustard containing a similar amount of Na+ as for the PJ trial. Postingestion blood samples were collected at 5, 15, 30, and 60 minutes. Main Outcome Measure(s) : The dependent variables were [Na+]p, [K+]p, OSMp, and percentage change in plasma Na+ content and plasma volume. Results : Participants became 2.9% ± 0.6% hypohydrated and lost 96.8 ± 27.1 mmol (conventional unit = 96.8 ± 27.1 mEq) of Na+, 8.4 ± 2 mmol (conventional unit = 8.4 ± 2 mEq) of K+, and 2.03 ± 0.44 L of fluid due to exercise-induced sweating. They ingested approximately 79 mL of PJ or DIW or 135.24 ± 22.8 g of mustard. Despite ingesting approximately 1.5 g of Na+ in the PJ and mustard trials, no changes occurred within 60 minutes postingestion for [Na+]p, [K+]p, OSMp, or percentage changes in plasma volume or Na+ content (P > .05). Conclusions : Ingesting a small bolus of PJ or large mass of mustard after dehydration did not exacerbate exercise-induced hypertonicity or cause hyperkalemia. Consuming small volumes of PJ or mustard did not fully replenish electrolytes and fluid losses. Additional research on plasma responses pre-ingestion and postingestion to these treatments in individuals experiencing acute EAMCs is needed.