Q. I have had restless legs and Charlie horse cramps for years and tried everything I could. I did not want to take the prescription drugs I see advertised and found something else that works.

I take a magnesium tablet at bedtime (30 mg calcium, 134 mg magnesium, 5 mg zinc). With this I have little RLS and can actually stretch my legs in the morning without cramping.

A. Thanks for the recommendation. This should cause no trouble and might help somebody else. People with kidney problems should avoid extra magnesium.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Gloria
    Oshawa Ontario

    I started taking magnesium two weeks ago. So far, it has worked great. The only thing is I have had diarrhea every morning. No stomach cramps, just watery diarrhea.

    I have read about it and that is one of the side effects. You have to remember not to get dehydrated, but on the plus side, no more leg cramps. It is the only thing that has ever worked for me, and believe me, I have tried every thing.

  2. Melissa

    My boyfriend gets bad cramping in his calves during sex. Would taking a Magnesium/calcium/zinc/pottasium supplement work if he took it right before sex?

  3. Carol

    I just had a nasty leg cramp, maybe from sitting too long on couch. I opened a Calcium/Magnesium capsule, (the brand I use has this in each capsule: 250 mg. of Calcium and 125 mg. of Magnesium in one capsule) and I poured the capsule’s powder under my tongue. I took a sip of water to mix with the Ca/Mg powder, under my tongue (to get some of these minerals in “sub-lingually”/into capillaries under the tongue). After about half a minute, I swallowed the Ca/Mg water mixture. After about a minute, the LEG CRAMP WAS GONE! And, it’s still gone!

    However: Those with atrial fibrillation (a-fib), a heart rhythm problem, may want to avoid Calcium “supplements”, which can irritate the heart.

    Instead of taking “supplemental” Calcium:

    A-fib patients can get their needed Calcium in FOOD forms, by eating Calcium-rich foods, such as almonds (if not allergic), “tahini” (sesame seeds, ground up to look like peanut butter), canned sardines (the bones are rich in Calcium, etc.), etc.

    I learned from Hans Larsen’s a-fib website, that: Magnesium supplements can stop a-fib episodes. Along with this, an a-fib patient can drink potassium-rich drinks, (in case the person became low in their potassium levels) such as Coconut water &/or Tomato juice (if tomatoes don’t cause reflux & if an arthritis person is OK with the “nightshade” family of plants that includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, paprika & tobacco).

    Raisins are also naturally rich in potassium, even more-so than bananas, which are good, too.

    Good luck to all!

  4. Rod

    I’ve been taking Zinc and Vitamin E for leg cramps for a few years and they’ve been working until recently. I’ve begun to get severe cramping in both calves, and it’s become dangerous. When I begin to feel a cramp I get up and walk it off; however, last night when I tried to stand up I couldn’t because the cramps were so severe. I couldn’t stand up and fell, hitting my head on the corner of something and gashing my face from forehead to lower cheek. I will try adding magnesium tonight.

  5. Lyn

    I have RLS and also problems sleeping. I wake often during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep.
    I recently discovered topical magnesium chloride oil. It is not really an oil although when first applied it feels that way. It will sting a bit, but after letting it dry on the skin for about 15 minutes, that feeling goes away. I massage one teaspoon on my legs and on my neck and back. I began sleeping much more soundly after the first application.
    I read about magnesium and learned that most of us are deficient in this mineral, due to soil depletion, etc. Next I am going to try magnesium flakes, which are dissolved in a bath to soak in.
    I previously tried oral magnesium, but could not tolerate the necessary dosage due to it causing diarrhea. Applying the magnesium topically completely avoids this problem. After 2 or 3 nights of magnesium I also noticed a drastic improvement in my joint pains, namely my shoulder pain, knees and also my thumbs.

  6. Andy

    I’m a healthy 90 yr old male- no prescription drugs. Maybe 20 or so years ago I often suffered painful leg cramps while driving my car on longer trips. I solved the problem by drinking extra fluids on trips, adding some magnesium to my supplement list, and most importantly, I now use “cruise control” almost all the time, when driving — wouldn’t be without it. And we make more frequent stops – every hour or two. Also: adjust your car seat to minimize pressure on the underside of your legs near the knees.
    More recently, I have occasional leg cramps in bed at night. Immediate solution: get out of bed and walk about a bit. My daughter-in law gave me a few Potassium (75 mg) and Magnesium (100 mg) capsules which she says my son uses for night leg cramps. They seem to help when taken with water at the onset of night cramps; or perhaps it is just the water. I do eat a balanced diet plus many minerals, including daily magnesium and calcium, vitamins and supplements; and I exercise almost daily- at a 90 year old’s modest level- no weights over 5 pounds.

  7. Barbara

    I have had Raynauds disease for the last 35 years and with that I get cramps in my calves as well as my feet only in the winter though. I’ll get cramps in my feet while I am driving. It was nothing for me to get cramps in both calves at the same time in the middle of deep sleep. I read about the soap last October and decided to try it. I have not had a cramp either in bed or while driving the whole entire winter. Thank you so much.

  8. DVS

    I recently read in your column about someone using 300 mg magnesium oxide for leg cramps. I purchased a bottle of 400 mg and took one pill two days in a row. Not only did I have leg cramps but I felt dizzy, my legs felt like lead and I had an upset stomach. Having read further about this supplement on-line, it states that you shouldn’t take it within 2 hours of taking other medications.
    I also take meds for diabetes, high cholesterol & a diurectic. The person who wrote the article above only took 134 mg, a huge difference. It would have been very beneficial if in the news article The People’s Pharmacy had indicated what a safe level is to take. I’m not taking this again as I believe it’s dangerous to me.

  9. Buck

    God bless you all. The crazies as well as the not so. When you are experiencing pain, your willing to try anything to make it stop. I get hellacious cramps in my calfs almost every night. They “hit” when I enter into a completely relaxed deep sleep. Annoying doesn’t begin to describe the situation. I end up sleeping at my desk sitting up just to avoid the cramps which creates another list of problems, but with less pain.
    I’ll try everything listed here in the hopes of finding something that works. Any port in a storm:)

  10. AHM

    I take potassium tablets twice per day for leg cramps. On occasion, I still get the leg cramps and when that happens, I eat a tablespoon of any kind of regular mustard. The mustard eases the cramps immediately!

  11. LBryan

    I don’t know about magnesium for leg cramps, but I do know its great for migraine headaches.
    I use to suffer with migraines so bad that I had a kit to give myself shots. I could never bring myself to give myself a shot. I had heard about magnesium being good for migraines, so I thought what can it hurt to try it.
    I have taken it for years now and NO MIGRAINES!! It truly worked for me.

  12. NA

    I experienced leg cramps during both of my pregnancies. Among other treatments which I’m sure I also tried, I read that magnesium would help. Those treatments worked for me, so I would imagine that magnesium would work for all types of leg cramping.

  13. Carole

    I have suffered from RLS for years. This is not the same as leg cramps, which from my reading can be helped with potassium, magnesium, and/or calcium as well as stretching. After researching on the web, in particular rls.org (Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation) I suspected that my problem might be low iron. My doctor then ordered a blood test for my hematocrit levels as well as my feratin levels (iron stores in the brain). Both were extremely low.
    Since then I have been taking over the counter slow-release iron every day and I have very few RLS symptoms. Anemia is not the cause for everyone, but if you’ve every been anemic it’s worth a try!

  14. cpmt

    POSSIBLE low potassium or calcium??? My Dr. told me to drink tonic water (quinine) but since since quinine was removed from tonic, I tried eating bananas -potassium- and calcium and it worked for me.

  15. sarah

    I thought the soap in the sheets was working for me, but it stopped working, so maybe it never was. When I was pregnant a few years ago and really bothered by RLS I noticed some degree of relief if I ate 3 or 4 bananas during the day.

  16. EV

    The best cure I have discovered for leg cramps is stretching. I stretch every night at bedtime, especially the hamstring area and calves and my leg cramp problem is completely cured.

    • fjb

      Soap needs to be replaced every 4 weeks in the bed; Ivory brand works the best. This really does work for getting rid of leg cramps, along with taking Biotin daily

  17. sara

    I make pickles with cauliflower, beans, red pepper, hot banana green pepper, onions, carrots, tumeric, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, mustard seed, celery seed, dill, dill seed, fennel seed, coriander seed. I mix it up. I don’t use all these ingredients every time. But I drink the pickle juice, and eat a jar of pickles two times a week, sometimes more. Love homemade pickles, year round.

  18. SG

    Crazy as it sounds, an Old Wives Tale has it that a bar of soap put between the sheets at the foot of your bed will curb Restless Legs. I tried it and it has worked for me for over a year! I warned you it sounds crazy!

  19. Trish

    I use a cake of soap under the sheet at the bottom of the bed this has completely stopped my Restless legs. If I am really tired and sitting at the computer til late, I put a bit of soap in my pocket and that fixes that too.

  20. CNJ

    My husband has suffered from severe muscle spasms in his legs after a day of being on his feet a lot. I read where a football team took dill pickle juice with them always, so the next time he suffered one I gave his about 1 and 1/2 ounces of pickle juice and the muscle spasm was gone immediately.
    I have been doing this for at least 10 years now and it always works.

  21. Barb S.

    A nutritionist told me years ago that calcium and magnesium work together to assist in the relaxation phase of muscle use. He recommended the combination not only for cramps but to help one relax and sleep better. Works for me.

  22. Jennifer C.

    Just a suggestion that I have found works well with leg cramps…. as soon as one starts, pinch your nose at the top of the bridge, and also pinch below your nose above your lip, and keep pinching until the cramp goes away. I’ve had success with this… worth a try!

  23. onw for JG..

    Magnesium at bedtime, is good for initial sleep.. (learned it in Graedon’s Pharmacy book).

  24. mbc

    I started magnesium supplements months ago, in desperation because of really painful leg cramps that prevented a good night’s sleep, and it WORKS! I’ve also made a conscious effort not to sleep curled up, to instead keep my legs pretty much straight at night, and that has helped too.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.