rows of yellow mustard on a store shelf, muscle spasms

Q. I walked all around the house for 10 minutes last night with a cramp in my ankle that wouldn’t quit. Then I remembered my sister telling me to try mustard.
I went to the refrigerator and got a dab of Grey Poupon to put on my tongue. Within seconds the pain was gone and, best of all, it didn’t come back.

A. We are glad the Grey Poupon mustard worked for your muscle cramp. Most people have reported success with inexpensive yellow mustard. We assumed that is because it has turmeric in it as well as mustard seed and vinegar. Perhaps, however, the vinegar and mustard alone do the job.
You may be interested in these stories:

“I work at a senior center. So I mentioned this tidbit to a 72yr old man who had muscle cramps nightly. For him, it was a miracle cure! He now takes turmeric pills everyday and hasn’t had a cramp since.

“He is not the only person I have told about this and every single person who had tried it swears by it! Another woman now keeps a jar of mustard and a spoon in her bedside table and can’t believe how well it works.”

Another reader commented:

“I can’t believe how instantly the teaspoon of mustard works. I had reduced the number of my foot/leg cramps with the soap, potassium supplements and the heating pad, but the mustard is like a miracle drug.
“My niece is a high-school athletic trainer. I have urged her to try it for the athletes.”

You may also find the information in our Guide to Leg Pain is useful for overcoming muscle cramps day or night. Other affordable home remedies can be found in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. Here is a link to our shopping cart.

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  1. William

    I use mustard for cramps.

  2. Lupe

    My mother’s problem is excruciating pain in the iliac crest and lower back area. The pain started sometime after she was taken in for surgery to correct a spinal compression fracture. The surgery corrected the problem but created another, worse, problem. She is now unable to take more than a few steps, nor can she sit up for more than a few minutes. Her PCP says the problem is due to swelling of the tissue spaces, muscles or nerves in that area, caused by a (probably very slight, as there was no bruising) trauma. She is 90 years old, and can’t take oral NSAIDS. The NSAID patches prescribed for her cost $1,100 per month, and only help a little. Do you have any ideas? Please, we need help!!

  3. DL

    Potassium deficiency is common thanks to a high sodium, low fruit/vegetable diet. Magnesium, calcium and vitamin D deficiency are other possible culprits. The best relief is probably in improving one’s diet and hydration levels (mild dehydration is also incredibly common). That being said, if the relief is related to the vinegar content in pickles or mustard, Apple Cider Vinegar conceivably may help (the organic kind with “mother”). Some people also feel tonic water helps due to the Quinine content.

  4. G.E.

    My husband stands for hours trapshooting. Many of his fellow sportsmen use yellow mustard for cramps. Works well for him. I am encouraging my grandson to try this also as he has muscle cramps after sports.

  5. PC

    For years my legs would get cramps in the night time, bad I would cry and rub for hours, then a few years later I read you item on mustard. Well it really worked for me. I would hobble to kitchen grab a spoon and mustard didn’t care how much on spoon 2 times some time even before I made it back to relief had started and could go to sleep.
    So I know it works. Hardly get them any more, if I due after the mustard.

  6. HH

    Very useful tips for treating muscle cramps at home. It’s very unique you know. Nobody didn’t bother that mustard is good in treating muscle cramps pains. Now, because of your post, I think more and more people will be able to know how mustard can help treat muscle cramps.

  7. clwilder

    Unfortunately, this did not help me with leg cramps; also, the soap in bed failed also. However, I found that tonic water before bed made the incidence of cramps less often and less severe.
    I have been taking turmeric (for other reasons) for years and the cramps increased – probably nothing to do with the turmeric, but it obviously did not prevent cramps.

  8. a.s.

    I’ve “liberated” a number of packets of “yellow paint” from one or another fast food emporia; a few in my nightstand, a few in my briefcase, a few in my desk, and a few in my jockeybox. I don’t get cramps very often, but when I do, boy, howdy! this takes care if it pretty quickly, tho.

  9. HJL

    It is not the turmeric that gives instant relief. There is actually science on this and the “cure” is so fast that what you eat is not digested. The cure is before digestion. Both mustard and pickle juice have been used historically.
    Most experts now believe it is the vinegar (found in both) which actually is the effective agent. Cramping is actually caused by the muscle over firing and it is believed the vinegar disrupts the “message” to the muscle to fire. Vinegar, pickle juice and mustard all work so pick what you prefer. Some keep packets of mustard hand at all times.

  10. BT

    Tonic Water is excellent also and it works quickly! I keep small bottles on hand… Canada Dry or your grocer’s house brand would work.
    For portability I keep a small “fast-food” packet of mustard in my purse for use as needed when away from home.

  11. VFC

    This is one of the best tips EVER-quick, easy, and effective. I’ve learned how to just squirt some straight into my mouth, no spoon needed! It does not bother my touchy stomach either.I keep it at bedside so no need to go to the kitchen.It really improves the quality of my sleep too/

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