a jar of pickles

Q. I don’t have restless leg syndrome (RLS) or nighttime leg cramps. Rather I have “restless foot,” sometimes in the right foot, sometimes in the left. I can actually feel the energy building up in my foot when it comes on. After about a minute the energy is so great I MUST move the affected foot.

I started to drink tonic water, and it helped me to be able to get to sleep. I’ve never told my doctor about all this because he’d probably prescribe a high-cost med! I’m on a host of other drugs for high blood pressure (metoprolol and Exforge), diabetes (glimepiride), a blood thinner (Aggrenox), a cholesterol med (Tricor) and amitriptyline for diabetic nerve pain. I hope that none of these interacts with the quinine in the tonic water.

A. There is a possibility that the quinine in the tonic water could interact with your blood pressure pills, so you should talk this over with your doctor. Also ask him about pickle juice, as another reader suggests this:

“Drinking three tablespoons of dill pickle juice is a remedy I follow, both for night cramps in my thighs and for twitchy feet. The dill pickle juice works astonishingly fast, within seconds. I keep a jar next to my bed for use only as needed. It has never failed me. Football coaches use it to get a cramping quarterback back in the game right away.”

We discuss several remedies for restless leg syndrome as well as nighttime leg cramps in our Guide to Leg Pain. We suspect that some of the things that work for RLS might work for your twitchy foot as well. Be sure to check with your doctor about whether you are anemic; correcting the anemia frequently reverses restless legs syndrome.

RLS is occasionally caused by a blood pressure pill, nifedipine, that is related to the amlodipine in the Exforge you take. We have been unable to find a link between amlodipine and RLS, however. Nonetheless, this too might be worth discussing with your physician.

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  1. Luanne J A
    FL - Florida

    I get restless leg at night usually after eating a meal. Usually when I eat hotdogs and sweet pickles. My theory is that sodium is the culprit.Pickles are so high in salt and so are hotdogs.

    I often have a craving for cucumbers which I slice and eat with different vinegars. I’m thinking that cukes have a lot of water content (and I do not drink enough water) and that vinegar counteracts the effects of sodium.

    The comments about checking iron, vitamin D, electrolytes, and magnesium and calcium are considerations for me. How does the bar of soap method work?

    I believe natural products are enough to cure restless leg.
    Thanks for the advice.

  2. fbl

    Marcia O, have you tried different brands of the vitamin D? If you have then I’d suggest you get a complete workup to check not only your electrolytes but also your minerals and vitamin K as well. Something is not right. Do you take digestive enzymes? Maybe you aren’t assimilating stuff?
    It took a HUGE amount of supplemental D, even with sunning, to get my D number up. I have a gut feeling it has something to so with my genetic makeup. I’m Mosaic Turners and have about 1/3 of my chromosomes single X and am missing one whole chromosome.
    I wonder if you have some genetic aberrations going on? The web site “23 and me” has some good offers recently for genetic testing or it may be covered under your insurance plan…assuming you still have one.

  3. Marcia O.

    Surprising Vitamin D after-effects. My physician recommends taking 2,000 mg/day. When I take more than 1,000mg three days a week, my face slowly becomes numb starting with the chin carefully moving upward until, in about a week or two, my entire face feels numb. When lowering the dose back to the 3,000mg per week, the numbness leaves slowly in about a week or so, then stabilizes. I have repeated raising and lowering the dose as a test with the same effect. I have attempting keeping the dose high trying to ignore the numbness hoping it will go away, but the numbness remains becoming more intense. My Vitamin D tests are too low at around 11, moving up from 4 of a few years ago though have been taking the 3,000mg a week for over two years. I am out in the sun often from April to October with a good tan to prove it. Neither my physician or myself have read about this side-effect of Vitamin D. Anyone else???

  4. Brigitte C.

    Homeopathic MagPhos for occasional jumpy legs, and if that doesn’t do it, 500mg of Magnesium in the evening 10 minutes before bedtime. Has worked for years with my husband and I. Living in a hot climate (Tucson) and then hot summers when sweating causes Mg to be lost…the muscles begin to twitch, heart included. No symptoms for us since supplementation with Mg. Before taking drugs, do the research and find what could be removed/added from your daily diet to stay healthy…research is so easy now with this site and many others…

  5. DL

    Personally, I would zero in on diet, hydration and electrolyte imbalances. Magnesium, potassium, calcium and vitamin D, if adequate through diet, should help. Since childhood, I suffered from RLS from time to time and regular magnesium supplementation mostly eliminated it. Eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more plain water, along with reducing caffeine and sodium, makes a difference too.

  6. Ann B. in MS

    This is CORRECT!!!! I have learned, after years of painful, charlie-horses in my legs at night, that pickle juice will stop them, almost immediately! I found that the dill pickles and juice work better than sweet… not sure just why.
    An older lady told me about it and now, I, too, keep some by my bed at night. I just wish I could find a way to AVOID them!!! I got off statin drugs, as my Dr. and I thought that could be the cause… and have been on Wel-Chol for about a year… but still have them from time-to-time!
    I exercise 3-4 days a week, so it’s not a circulation problem. I’ve also found that, when I take 2 of the “Arthritis-Strength Tylenols” at bedtime, I don’t have them as often. They work better than 3 Advils… which as an anti-inflammatory, are supposed to have a “muscle-relaxing” effect. I’m gonna’ take whatever works!

  7. KH

    where can you just buy pickle juice for leg cramps or do you just use the juice in the pickle jar? Also any other suggestions would be appreciated.

  8. fbl

    Rose, I had a number of rather serious problems with my spine from a fall down 26 steps. I suffered for many years and was pretty much bed bound for most of the week. Had few lucid days.
    In 2002 I was referred to a Pettibon Chiropractor. I was not very hopeful as I’d been through several Orthopedic physicians, Physiotherapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists in the previous 14 years.
    With the treatments and physical therapy exercises done in the office and at home, I was driving in less than two months and ready to go back to work within three years-completely pain free.
    My disks are pumped up, no bulges or calcification are left. Nobody would believe the before and after X rays. My Dr. also does amazing things for scoliosis patients as well. Yes, it requires a lot of work, which of course is not fun.

  9. RMB

    what abut ginger candy or ginger root capsules for RLS?


    I never had RLS until about 3 weeks ago. I developed sciatica and was on a nerve calming med for it which helped. I also have spinal stenosis on the same side as the sciatica. The med helped the sciatica, but even before that I began with what seems to be RLS according to all the symptoms you give. I cannot sleep at night and am feeling extremely sleep deprived, Will the gin flavored raisins help the RLS and also my arthritic hands and back? I should mention I had a back fusion a few years ago due to degenerating discs because of OA in my spine. What is the bar of soap used for and does it have to be a certain brand? Will that help.? I really could use your advice. Also I’ve heard something about Bing cherries and cherry juice. What does that do and what are the amounts needed?
    Thank you for any help you can give me.

  11. CC

    for years I have put a bar of soap at the bottom of mybed, inside my sheets … and it works for restless leg syndrome….

  12. Susan P

    I tried drinking pickle juice and it didn’t help my cramping legs or feet.
    A friend told me to use plain yellow mustard and that did help but caused stomach distress.
    My husband remembered that you said it was the turmeric in these products that did the job and one day bought me a can of turmeric spice at the grocery store. I stir a full teaspoon into an 8 oz container of flavored yogurt and Voila! no more cramping at all!
    Dr. Oz had two cardiologists saying that it protects ones veins and arteries from inflammation as well on a show on 12/11/12, so that is even better. It is turmeric for me from now on!

  13. fbl

    Your writer is typical of what I’ve seen with people on Medicare. I did volunteer work for many years and it was truly amazing to see the huge number of meds people were taking.
    When I got the list (I did volunteer work from home because of my disability) I would go down the list and check for medications that shouldn’t be taken together. I’d check on some Internet sites then I would call our local pharmacy for confirmation of my research.
    When I got back with the volunteer I gave them all the info and told them to suggest to the person that they have their family Dr. review their meds.
    The person writing above needs to have their meds reviewed. Unless their cholesterol is over 300 they should not be on medication for it. If they remove only that one drug their cramping will probably go away. Possibly even the neuropathy as well.
    A low carbohydrate diet and a good supplement might eliminate the need for the diabetes drug. Cayenne, nattokinase and ginkgo biloba might be enough to eliminate the blood thinner as well.
    A check by a Pettibon Chiropractor of the C7 vertebrae may be all that is needed for the blood pressure. Half of my Dr.’s patients with high blood pressure are now completely off their meds after manipulating this neck vertebrae. My own blood pressure came down almost 40 points! No, I was NOT on medication because of rather serious side effects for every one tried. Now my Bp is fine!

  14. cal

    I think you should warn people about the high sodium content of pickle juice….because of the possible elevation of blood pressure.

  15. Sunny M.

    You mention that RLS may be connected to anemia. This was certainly true for me. I became severely anemic earlier this year, the cause still unknown. Your soap-under-the-sheets trick helped, but did not solve the problem. I also had angina-like symptoms and fatigue. Blood tests showed that my hemoglobin was 6.8, and I also had immature and mal-formed red blood cells. A transfusion of 2 units of blood resolved all those symptoms. My hemoglobin is now back to normal (13.8) and the RLS is gone. I am supplementing with an OTC tonic which has iron and B vitamins.

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