a jar of pickles

Q. I experienced leg cramps that started in my toes and went up almost to my diaphragm. I tried sublingual homeopathic tablets without success.

My son, a handball player, told me the professional handball players use pickle juice for cramps. I tried it when I was ready to call 911. (The pain under my diaphragm made it hard to breathe.)

The pickle juice worked almost instantaneously. I now keep a bottle of it in my refrigerator at all times in case of an emergency.

A. Many doctors find such anecdotes silly and hard to believe, but there are no FDA-approved drugs for easing leg cramps.

Home remedies are rarely tested, but scientists at Brigham Young University performed an experiment with 10 college students. The young athletes exercised and then had a mild electrical current applied to induce a muscle cramp. The volunteers were given water or pickle juice. Pickle juice relieved the cramps about 40 percent faster than water (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, May, 2010).

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  1. Andrea

    Pickle juice works for me! Since my sister told me about it I was skeptical and then, I read about it here. I use dill pickle juice and drink about 1/4 to 1/2 cup after the first cramp or when I first feel the tightening in my legs.

  2. Janet

    I was told by my doctor to drink 2 Tb of Apple cider vinegar a day for glucose and to help kidney and liver function. Also I have read that garlic is also good for your health. So I always buy the kosher dills with garlic. Might as well cover all bases. No leg cramps so far and blood sugars starting to lower

  3. Joanne
    United States

    I tried both sweet and dill. I take a rather high dose of lasix which never fails to cause cramping widespread, cramping in my toes,feet, legs,up into my groin, in my abdomen, and back, arms shoulders,everywhere.. I do take a substantial amount of potassium, and magnesium, which must help, but doesn’t feel like it does when I’m cramped up….

    I’m not diabetic, nor do I have high blood pressure, but I have a problem with swelling.

    Both sweet and the dill worked great, and very close to instantly.

    My thoughts on high salt content, would be to make your own.

    Also, I’ve canned pickles before, so I know there’s a shortcut.
    It’s pickle mix. (Do a Google search)
    It has the ingredients included,and you mix it with vinegar and water (sugar for sweet).
    So, for those of us who have more cramps than juice, mix yourself up a batch of pickle juice,which can be kept a couple weeks in the fridge. (I’d end up freezing some, or only making enough to me kept in a mason jar, or…the pickle jar I emptied drinking the juice.)you may want to invest in a gallon mason jar…or use a gallon pickle jar you may already have.

    For low sodium recipes, this takes a bit of work.
    Google low sodium pickle mix,then scroll til you find a result linked to a site called “pick your own.” They have a low sodium pickle recipe, which will even make sweet pickles with spends or stevia, for sugar free sweet pickles.

    Whichever, if your not especially fond of pickles themselves, or want a larger quantity of juice, try the mix.

  4. Rod
    New Mexico

    I am a diabetic and experienced leg/feet/thigh cramps, but I started taking Magnesium capsules and I don’t have muscle cramps anymore. Avoid drinking sodas that quickly deplete your magnesium levels. Pickle juice seems to also help satisfy that quench that water can’t, but I haven’t tried vinegar/water combination (which would do away with problems with salt and kidney damage.

  5. Debbie B

    I am tried Dill Pickle juice for leg cramps, I stand all day on my feet at work.
    Believe me Dill Pickle Juice is great!

  6. Brenda

    I am a Diabetic and my sugar keeps spiking up and I would like to know what I can do to bring it down? please help me!

  7. pat

    pickles have worked for me at night, along with yellow mustard to be sure!

  8. BJ

    My son and I both are bothered with “charlie horse” like cramps. We get several C.H pains weekly but when the pain gets up in the thighs they are one of the worse pain you can get, nothing helps.
    I went to my foot Dr and he said I was flat footed and he made insoles for my shoes that seems to be working as I have not had the pain in my thighs since the new insoles. At $300.00 they better work.
    I did try “Mothers vinegar” about 1 T. per 2 oz. water that helps the pains in the calfs of my legs. I have fewer of them also.

  9. Helen M

    I like sour pickles, never throw the juice away because I am diabetic and vinegar may help with blood glucose rises after eating. As always, your mileage may vary.
    I don’t have cramping, have not since the beginning of the diabetes. When the pickles go below the juice, I just take a nice sized swig out of the bottle, enough for one or two swallows. You will find out fast enough how much you need to reduce cramping.
    Giving an amount might not necessarily be needed because everyone is different. When cramping, try starting with a small swallow and if that is not enough, you can always increase the amount taken until the cramping is relieved. Next time you can start with that amount as your dosage.
    As for bp, it depends on whether you are salt sensitive or not. Might be a good way to find out. There are salt free pickles available, usually in the health food section of your supermarket or at a health food store.
    If you don’t like pickles, find someone who does and ask them to save the juice for you.

  10. bt

    Is juice to be taken as preventative daily, or just when experiencing leg cramps? I have them in my legs, toes, feet frequently, rarely hands. Tried ivory soap under sheets, did not help.

  11. SEY

    I tried the tonic water remedy for nocturnal foot cramps… It worked wonderfully for a week then I had to stop because the tonic water with quinine in it was adversely affecting my liver… This happened about 10 yrs ago as well . At that time we thought it was an interaction w/ a new antibiotic… This time, I am not sure what caused it. Taking Hawthorne Berry extract pills was recommended to me… but I’m wondering how they will interact with the other meds I am taking…

  12. cg

    why not try apple cider vinegar? it’s used in some pickle recipes. 1 – 2 T in 4 – 8 oz water should work.

  13. bep

    My husband has used this remedy with great success. We have kosher dills. The person that told me about this said to drink about 1/4 cup of juice. I keep meaning to pick up some little packs of the mustard. He could just keep a pack on the nightstand for when it is needed. I have never heard an amount for the mustard – just squirt some in the mouth.

  14. cpmt

    I think is just regular pickles (vinegar) juice, not sweet or butter pickles (at least I don’t use them). Yellow mustard also helps.

  15. anne c

    Are there answers to the questions/comments re: dosage/types of pickles/etc. from your readers?
    I also have strong ankle & calf muscle cramps and would welcome specifics. No amount of tonic water I’ve consumed has ever been enough to affect my leg cramps at night.
    What kind of and how much pickle juice is helpful?
    Is there a lot of sodium in the juice? (I take prescription meds for blood pressure control.
    I’d prefer not to use prescribed quinine capsules, although they do work for me, contrary to what the AMA says.
    But I think that they, like other prescription meds, do affect the liver. Thanks for your help

  16. Bob P.

    I have found tonic water or mustard to be of great help with leg cramps that come in the night. I keep a bottle of tonic water by the bed. It doesn’t happen very often, but the water stops the cramp within about 4 minutes.

  17. JT

    Sounds good, but dill or sweet pickles juice? There’s a huge difference.

  18. Judy

    I appreciate knowing about the pickle juice being effective for leg cramps as I have this problem from time to time a/c a particular RX drug I take. Will definitely try this remedy. I am assuming that a teaspoon or tablespoon is sufficient.
    My comment is: When a respondent sends you a home remedy solution to a particular problem, why do you not include the dosage this person used to achieve success? You publish this info then people receiving your newsletter have to write to ask for further information if they want to try this remedy. Sometimes the dosage is subsequently provided and sometimes not.
    Is there a legal issue preventing you from supplying this information from the start? I have encountered this lack of information many times and when it is not fully disclosed I ‘discard’ the idea immediately.

  19. DS

    Pickle juice is also great for indigestion. I also keep left over juice in my fridge. Works when other remedies don’t.

  20. B.T.

    Is sweet pickle or dill pickle juice recommended? What’s the recommended dose?

  21. LF

    Re: Pickle juice remedy for cramps
    Pickle juice is basically vinegar and salt; Is this all that is required or do we need need the one with tumeric, alum, etc. added also??

  22. B Barnes

    It would be more helpful if you said what kind of pickle juice. Dill? Source? Bread & Butter? Sweet?

  23. Noah T.

    Which kind? Sweet, sour salty, etc?

  24. Wendy H. R.

    Pickle Juice? Does this work with menopause?

  25. Lily

    I wanted to know what kind of pickle juice do I have to buy for my leg cramp. Can you give me the name of the pickle juice? Sweet or sour? Please let me know. Thanks

  26. SS

    Hello, I just wanted to find out which type of pickles are good for the leg cramping? The jar on your website looks like kosher pickles, but can any type of pickle work?
    I was also told the taking in a teaspoon of mustard will help with stopping the cramping? True or not? Thank you, SS

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