Q. I have a colostomy and was advised to get plenty of fluids. I began drinking quantities of Earl Grey tea, my favorite.

Since I started drinking this tea, I’ve suffered many painful finger and foot cramps at night. I didn’t connect the two until I read in your column that the flavoring in Earl Grey can affect potassium and cause muscle cramps. I switched to regular black tea.

The cramps have mostly stopped and my lab results are better when it comes to potassium and indications of kidney function. Thank you!

A. A cup or two of Earl Grey tea should not cause most people any problems. Too much, however, may affect the movement of potassium in and out of cells. This could lead to muscle cramps (The Lancet, April 27, 2002).

Join Over 52,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. Maureen
    Reply

    I read your article and switched from Earl Grey to English Breakfast tea, and my fingers are no longer spasming. Thank you.

  2. Buck
    Reply

    I have leg cramps when I drink too much. What is the reason or relationship that causes the symptom?

  3. A.H.
    Reply

    I had bad leg and feet cramps almost every night and the doctor put me on magnesium. I’ve only had two since then. Its been at least 6 months or more since I had one.

  4. Jim
    Reply

    I get night leg cramps, but only when I don’t pay attention to calcium and/or cal/mag balance. Generally, if I get my 1kmg of ca, I have no cramps. Every time I get these cramps, it’s directly attributable to failing to take my calcium. I confess I have more to learn about potassium/cramps.

  5. Roy Laughlin
    Reply

    Is it ok to take niacin, red yeast rice and coq10 together to control cholesterol while taking 20 mg of zocor? Would the three control cholesterol and just cut out zocor?
    Thanks, Roy

  6. JAN
    Reply

    I am having severe toe and finger spasms. They lock and have to be pried loose. Hot water helps. I drink a lot of green tea and have had low potassium levels, but have them back to normal now. However, the spasms continue… any help….

What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts with others, but be mindful of protecting your own and others' privacy. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from web visitors is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. In posting a comment, you agree to our commenting policy and website terms and conditions.