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Pickle Cravings, Dizziness & Vertigo
by Brian Carter, MS, LAc

Question: Hi,

I read the article about cravings, mainly because I was doing a search to see if I could locate something on cravings.

I've had a peculiar one for the past two days...for PICKLE JUICE. Might this mean anything???

Let me set the stage: I had been maintaining a relatively caffeine-free existence for several year, primarily so that I wouldnt experience troubled sleep or insomnia. It helped a lot. However, since I've been working at my new school - this started last year, but this year it has escalate -- I've drinking WAY too many regular colas and getting tons of caffeine AND sugar.

Yesterday when I arrived home feeling the effects of too much sugar and too much caffeine, I prepared to pour myself a glass of water from the fridge. The second I caught sight of the pickle jar, I knew that that's what I wanted, so I gulped down a glass of water and proceeded to pour myself a small amount of the pickle juice and sip on it. I returned to the fridge enough times to have consumed no less -- and probably more -- than 8 ounces. Today, although I drank much less soda, I still wanted pickle juice when I got home, and just finished drinking more than a half cup -- and eating a pickle, as well.

Any thoughts on this. In as much as I have had a sip of pickle juice from time to time throughout my life, I've never had a craving for it.

Thanks for any insight you might be able to offer.



There are a couple of possibilities... besides the fact that the sour might be the only thing that would cut all that sweet taste!

Intestinal Dysbiosis, Yeast Infection (Candida)

One is intestinal dysbiosis, or yeast infection. Also known as a candida overgrowth... It can happen to both men and women. It can be a consequence of antibiotic usage. The antibiotics kill off some of our friendly intestinal flora (the good bacteria), which allows the bad bacteria the opportunity to grow, and one of these bacteria is candidiasis.

Candida Overgrowth Symptoms

Here are some possible symptoms of candida overgrowth:

  • new allergies (eg. to foods)
  • always tired
  • poor digestion
  • gas
  • heartburn
  • sugar cravings
  • irritability
  • frequent headaches
  • poor memory
  • foggy-headed feeling
  • dizziness
  • depression
  • vaginal infections
  • menstrual difficulties
  • prostatitis
  • urinary tract infections
  • infertility
  • hay fever
  • postnasal drip
  • habitual coughing
  • catch colds easily
  • sore throat
  • athlete's foot
  • skin rash
  • psoriasis
  • cold extremities
  • arthritis-like symptoms
  • feel miserable in general

Of course those can be symptoms of other problems like heavy metal poisoning, latent viruses, etc. Don't even try to make a diagnosis from that list. See a practitioner who can do some questioning to narrow it down. If it looked like candida was a possibility, they could do a stool test to find out.

Why Pickle Juice for Candida?

The reason for a pickle juice craving in candida is that the vinegar in the juice would feed the candida. They were loving all the sugar from the sodas... if you won't obey the command for sodas, they'll cry out for something else. Yes, it's a bit like an alien invasion- your cravings have been possessed by a bacteria.

Candida Die Off Symptoms

People with severe candida overgrowth may experience extreme depression during the treatment-induced candida die-off (anti-fungals like diflucan and lamisil), which kills off the bad bacteria. One woman told me she became suicidal and had to drive around the ER parking lot for hours waiting for the depression to lift. (She felt safer being near the ER)

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The Sour Taste and the Chinese Medical Liver System

Another possibility comes from the Chinese Medicine perspective. The sour taste correlates with our concept of the Liver system. This loosely fits the biomedical liver organ, but includes other things. Liver system problems include:

  • eye symptoms
  • irritability
  • anger
  • frustration
  • yelling, and
  • finger and toenail problems

Liver Spleen Disharmony

You might have what we call a Liver & Spleen disharmony. Symptoms of that would include:

  • eye problems
  • irritability, frustration, anger
  • low appetite
  • low energy, and
  • loose stool

To have this diagnosed, you would need to see a Chinese Medicine practitioner (acupuncturist)... check out my article on finding acupuncturists.

Hope that helps- keep me posted on what you find out!

All the best,


Thanks for the reply about the 'pickle juice craving'. I plan to monitor this, and will mention it to my medical doc and my chiropractor, both of whom I'm scheduled to see in the near future. I'm not experiencing many of the symptoms you mentioned to do with candida overgrowth (gosh, was THAT what Tony Orlando and Dawn were singing about -- "Oh, oh, Candida...we can make it together"...haha...yes, I'm strange, very strange!), only

  • sugar cravings (occasionally)
  • some dizziness - but only the first day of the pickle juice episode: a strange intermittent sensation upon turning my head, and maybe not even dizziness but a peculiar sensation that got my attention each time it happened

In any case, I was thinking "major sugar overload" (won't tell you how many soda's I'd had that day...shame-faced me!!!), and set off the diabetes warning buzzer in my head, although I have biennial blood work-ups and my blood sugar level remains in the mid-70s.

Anyway, thanks again for your response...it really seemed so bizarre to be considering pickle juice as an evening cocktail...I emptied the jar and pickles had nothing to bathe in! :-)

Thanks a bunch,



Dizziness and Vertigo

Yes, the dizziness/strange turning sensation sounds like vertigo/dizziness- an inner ear phenomenon which can be associated with the Liver system that I mentioned.

Some pattern differentiations under dizziness/vertigo are

  • Liver yang rising,
  • Liver wind, and
  • phlegm (in the channels, Liver, or Gallbladder).

In fact, there has been some work done to integrate western and eastern views of Meniere's disease... that's written about in Volker Scheid's book, Chinese Medicine in Contemporary China: Plurality and Synthesis.

Sweet Cravings

The sweet craving has to do with the Spleen system… It's possible that the Liver needed a boost (from its flavor: sour), to keep up with the Spleen… in the 5 phase system, the Liver system keeps control of the Spleen system, so if the Spleen was getting out of hand (excess) with all that sugar, the Liver would be deficient relative to the Spleen.

Of course it's impossible to diagnose you without more info. And I wouldn't expect any answers about a topic like this from your MD- unless they're a pretty way out there MD. Chiro's vary more than MD's in their preferences, educations, and practices, so he/she might have some input for you. My bias is to send you to a Chinese herbalist/acupuncturist, because we have more tools in our belt to track down weird symptoms like pickle juice cravings.

And remember, your MD won't understand what we mean by the Liver and Spleen Systems in Chinese Medicine, because it's different from the biomedical perspective on the liver and spleen organs. I'm just saying... expect some raised eyebrows if you try to explain it to them!

Pickle Patterns

Who knows, you might be the case that pioneers a whole new Chinese medical pattern: Pickle wind phlegm, Liver wind pickle, or Sour phlegm rising... So get thee to an herbalry- and get your poor pickles some more juice!

All the best,


Thanks, yet again, for more info.

I'm fortunate in that my chiropractor is very much into nutrition and herbal/mineral supplementation, and last year began studying some of the Chinese methodology...and has incorporated 'median' and energy flow patterns into his diagnoses/therapies/etc. He's a very positive force and loves his work in terms of helping people heal. Cool, huh???

As for the poor living conditions of my mistreated pickles, I put them out of their misery by letting them perk up a salad for me (and, tasty little critters, they were!). :-)

Health and happiness to you,


If you develop an uncontrollable fascination with pickle juice, check out this company which actually mass produces a pickle juice drink:

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