yellow mustard

For years people have been insisting that a teaspoon or two of yellow mustard eases the pain of muscle cramps within a minute or two. We have even tried it ourselves with amazing success. But health professionals often roll their eyes when we mention this or other kitchen cabinet treatments.

That’s because they cannot imagine a reason why mustard might work. It defies their understanding of how a drug is absorbed from the stomach and exerts a pharmacological effect on the body. The mustard cure works too darned fast for standard scientific explanation.

Home Remedies Often Defy Logic:

Home remedies have been with us since the dawn of civilization. Before there were drugs there were herbs, spices and a variety of natural products to help us when we were in distress.

With the advent of modern medicine and pharmaceuticals, home remedies fell into disfavor. Doctors did not learn about them in medical school and drug companies were not about to invest millions of dollars into products that could not be patented. As a result, doctors often sneer at old wives’ tales or other seemingly silly solutions for common ailments.

When we discuss home remedies, as we frequently do, people often ask us, “How does that work?” We rarely have a good answer, which is why physicians are so understandably skeptical. Without a plausible explanation for the mechanism of action, they don’t believe a spoonful of mustard can stop a leg cramp within a minute or two.

If It Might Help and Won’t Hurt and Is Affordable:

We always figure that if something works, is not dangerous and doesn’t cost very much, that’s what matters. After all, doctors did not know how aspirin worked for at least 70 years after it was brought to market by the Bayer company. That didn’t keep aspirin from easing pain or lowering fevers.

An Explanation for Mustard vs. Cramps:

Now we have an ingenious explanation for why mustard or pickle juice works to relax muscle cramps. For decades physicians and athletic trainers assumed that muscle cramps originated in muscles and were caused by dehydration or imbalances in electrolytes such as sodium, potassium or magnesium.

Researchers have established that pickle juice promptly eases electrically induced muscle cramps (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, May, 2010).  They have also demonstrated that the mechanism of action of pickle juice or mustard is not through electrolyte replenishment (Journal of Athletic Training, May-June, 2014).

Nobel prize winner Rod MacKinnon, MD, and his colleague Bruce Bean, PhD, are neurobiologists. They are also prone to muscle cramps. While kayaking several miles off Cape Cod, Dr. MacKinnon suffered debilitating cramps, which was dangerous that far out in the ocean. Fortunately, they made it back to land and began a quest to better understand the causes of such incapacitating cramps.

By thinking creatively, they discovered that muscle cramps are actually triggered by misfiring nerves rather than dehydration or electrolyte imbalances. These brilliant scientists came up with a revolutionary idea that might transform the treatment of muscle cramps.

They hypothesized that strong flavors would trigger nerves in the mouth, throat and stomach. This neuronal stimulation might in turn overwhelm the misbehaving nerves that were causing muscle cramps. They concocted a spicy beverage containing cinnamon, ginger and a hot pepper extract that “directly influence and regulate nerve function.” They call the product Hotshot (online at www.Flex-Pharma.com).

Strong Flavors and Relief from Muscle Cramps!

We suspect that yellow mustard, hot peppers or pickle juice may also work by stimulating the same nerves. Visitors to our website report fast cramp relief with such remedies that cannot otherwise be explained by the slow absorption of sodium in the case of pickle juice or turmeric in the case of yellow mustard.

Lessons to be Learned From the Mustard Cure:

Perhaps it’s time for skeptics to recognize that just because a remedy may seem strange does not mean it should be rejected. The research of Drs. MacKinnon and Bean offers a novel explanation for why so many people have reported success with home remedies for leg cramps. It might even help explain why soap under the bottom sheet works to prevent leg cramps for so many people. It is entirely possible that the fragrance in soap triggers a neuronal reaction that eases the cramps. Here is a link to one hypothesis in this regard.

Here is another link you may find intriguing:

Skeptics Become Bed Soap Believers To Overcome Leg Cramps

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  1. Judie
    Tennessee
    Reply

    I am a believer in taking mustard for leg, feet, back or anything that is cramping. It seemed like I always started cramping after having epidurals in my spine, so I guess I will not get any more epidurals as they didn’t seem to help for very long.

  2. Goose
    Maine
    Reply

    Since eating a spoon ful of mustard is hard for me to “swallow” I have a bag of small pretzels which I cover with mustard. Hoping for same effect. Your thoughts.
    Goose in Maine.

  3. Bunny
    Gurgaon, India
    Reply

    I’ve suffered from leg cramps at night for 15 years (ever since I started taking statins). I stopped the statins 4 years ago, but the agonising cramps continued, waking me up from the deepest sleep and sometimes so bad that I couldn’t help screaming. The only relief I got was from soaking my feet in an Epsom Salts (magnesium sulphate) for an hour every day.

    This meant I had to carry along a tub and the salts whenever I went on holiday. Then two weeks ago, I read about soap beneath the bottom sheet. I fished out an old, fairly dried out sliver of Dove soap and put it beneath my bottom sheet and stopped dooing the foot soak — on an experimental basis. It’s been 12 days, and I haven’t had a cramp.

    My husband suffers from muscle pain in his left shoulder and I put a fresh bar of Dove beneath his sheet near the left side of his pillow yesterday. He woke up this morning without pain in his shoulder for the for the first time in months. This is brilliant. I will now go and score my old sliver of soap so that it becomes more effective. Thanks a lot.

  4. Bob
    Vernon, BC
    Reply

    Too bad that mustard is not a preventative, but only a curative procedure. I have suffered severe hamstring cramps following above normal amounts of physical activity. These usually occur at night after I go to bed. Last July during a pickleball tournament in +35C weather, I started getting leg cramps during play. I was granted a “medical” timeout and administered two packets of mustard by the attending nurse at the medical tent. By the time I walked the 100 paces back to the court, my cramps were gone. Apparently they have been using this tried and proven method for years for treating cramps during competition. What a fantastic find!

  5. Chris
    Dallas
    Reply

    Would this work for menstrual cramping?

  6. Teresa
    USA
    Reply

    works great for me and I have severe cramping in calves and thighs.

  7. Rosemary G
    Calif.
    Reply

    Mustard definately works 4 me. Tried it. It does work.thank u

  8. Loren
    New Haven
    Reply

    Loren
    I have been suffering with MS for 25 years and have had severe muscle and cranial cramps and short circuiting. I just downed the yellow mustard, and my feet stopped jumping! A friend, who is also a winning basketball coach, uses with his team. Kudos! Grace

  9. Brenda
    Cuyahoga Falls, OH
    Reply

    I am totally cramp-prone for every muscle in my body—even my scalp. In the stomach, the thighs, neck–I get them all. It is worse if my body gets cold, or I follow a low-carb diet and that makes cramps worse. I have tried:
    Soap under the bed – nothing.
    Use the Sole (concentrated salt water in the morning) – nothing.
    Hyland’s Pills – nothing.
    Stretching/Exercising – nothing.
    Extensive Physician visits – nothing.
    Pickle Juice – nothing
    Tonic Water – nothing.
    Chugging French’s Yellow Mustard – YES! It is the ONLY thing that stops my debilitating body cramps in 90 seconds. I don’t even use a spoon- just turn the bottle up and chug a healthy amount. I have done this for years–it is the only thing that has worked.
    I keep a giant sized mustard:
    Next to bed.
    On my desk at work.
    In my handbag. — yes I travel with it because I sometimes get cramps while driving.
    I 100% vouch for the nerve stimulation causation and the mustard shocking another set of nerves.

    • Stacie
      Texas
      Reply

      It’s literally the only thing that works for me too! Was out of regular mustard the other night and all I had was stone ground mustard with horseradish. Guess what, it worked too!

  10. sherry
    Seattle
    Reply

    I had problems with muscle cramps while exercising until I added more salt to my diet.

  11. Janet
    Reply

    I say, “whatever works”, regardless if there is a scientific explanation. Sometimes, placebo effect works when other things don’t–so what, it works to alleviate a body problem and to me that is what counts.

    Sometimes, we question things to the nth degree and want to disregard ideas because they cannot be explained. Who really cares most times when something works and defies explanation. It works and that is what is important to the person with the problem.

  12. Mitzi RPh
    St. Paul, MN
    Reply

    I am pharmacist (now retired) and am used to seeing clinical studies done on a drug before recommending its use. However, with a paucity of effective treatments for muscle cramps, I decided that I had nothing to lose in trying prepared mustard to relieve night-time leg cramps that I often get. Over the last few months I have tried it 5-6 times and have had 100% success! Within 1 minute I start to feel the cramp releasing! I’m a believer! And am thankful to The People’s Pharmacy as it is through you that I learned of this treatment.

  13. cyril
    Reply

    Will this work for arthritis?????

  14. TAURUS
    Reply

    And, on another thought, I have been “EARTHING” with a ground wire or walking bare foot, and I can honestly say that a mole on my back has shrunk to the point where it is almost “GONE”! It seems to work for me. My knee pains seem to have subsided much to my astonishment. I made my own ground wires and have two, one in the house while I am on the computer and one in my “MANCAVE” when I am in the garage. Why don’t you check out the websites and see for yourself. Thankyou for your time.

  15. TAURUS
    N Falls, NY
    Reply

    I’ve had better luck drinking Tonic Water on a more regular basis at the restaurants I visit than eating mustard.

  16. Don
    Connecticut
    Reply

    I wonder if this is the same sort of premise that causes bitters on an orange slice to relieve hiccups.

    • Robin
      Ohio
      Reply

      I use a tablespoon of peanut butter to get rid of hiccups. I don’t know if it works for everyone, but everyone I’ve had try it has worked for them. Tastes good too. I also use mustard when I have cramps at night. It works within minutes.

  17. Douglas
    Raleigh
    Reply

    I use mustard for leg cramps, I keep a bag of small mustard packs that come from a sandwich shop. When I start experiencing a leg cramp I’ll down one of the mustard packs and the cramp goes away almost immediately.
    Thanks, Douglas

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