Q. Years ago, I read in your column about using plain old yellow mustard for leg cramps. When I get cramps in the calves of my legs at night, they are so severe that I just about break my neck trying to get out of bed as quickly as possible. Standing up and walking around does help a bit, but the cramps still leave me in agony.
Once I swallow a tablespoon of French’s mustard, it generally helps me within a minute or so. My daughter suffers from occasional leg cramps as well and has also found relief by taking a spoonful of mustard. When I’m traveling, I make certain that I have a small bottle of mustard in the car with me.
A. We don’t know why mustard works so well against muscle cramps. It may be the turmeric included for its yellow color, or it could be the vinegar or the salt. However it works, many readers agree that this remedy has rescued them from excruciating leg cramps.
Here’s one story: “Several doctors have run full metabolic panels on me but never found an electrolyte imbalance to explain my horrible leg cramps. One doctor prescribed potassium just in case, but it didn’t help. Another suggested calcium–also no help.
“I took quinine tablets for ten years until FDA banned its use for cramps, but it gave only partial relief. Luckily a friend had read about mustard the same month I stopped quinine, and the years since then have been wonderful.
“Muscle cramps have multiple causes. No one answer seems to work for everyone. But nothing has matched mustard for me. I even keep it in my car for long trips.”