ginger, paprika, cinnamon

If you have ever experienced a muscle cramp you know how distressing it can be, especially if the spasm wakes you out of a sound sleep. We recently talked to Bruce Bean, PhD, of Harvard. This neuroscientist and his Nobel Prize winning colleague, Rod MacKinnon, MD, came up with a unique explanation for muscle cramps that involves misfiring motor neurons. They also came up with a muscle cramp remedy that has a scientific explanation. It involves stimulating TRP receptors and sensory neurons in the mouth, throat and stomach. Their Hotshot drink contains cinnamon, ginger and an extract of hot peppers. Now a reader has come up with her own muscle cramp remedy.

Kitchen Cupboard Formula:

Q. I have a neurological disorder that causes widespread muscle cramps and fatigue. I heard about the Hotshot product for cramps and looked it up online. Since the ingredients were listed, I made my own version.

I put equal amounts of Ceylon cinnamon, ginger and paprika in a shot glass. Then I added a teaspoon of fresh lime juice and honey to sweeten. It’s delicious.

I began turning my head back and forth because my neck is always stiff and painful. I could feel the pain lessening within seconds and now, ten minutes later, the pain is gone. I am thrilled beyond words. WOW!

A. Hotshot is a product developed by neuroscientists who found that muscle cramps are caused by misfiring nerves. They developed this spicy drink with cinnamon, ginger and capsaicin (the hot stuff in hot peppers) to calm the hyperexcited motor neurons. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

Scientific Explanation for Muscle Cramp Remedy:

If you would like to learn more about the mechanism of action of this and other home remedies here is a link to:

How Does A Teaspoon of Mustard Cure Muscle Cramps?

How Does A Teaspoon of Mustard Cure Muscle Cramps?

You will also find this article intriguing:

Should Doctors Embrace Home Remedies?

Should Doctors Embrace Home Remedies?

Readers Respond to Home Remedies:

A.B. in Western North Carolina puts all this into perspective:

“Gravity existed without Newton’s observation. Scientists need to name and quantify in order to draw conclusions. Just because experiences haven’t been ‘proved’ by double-blind studies and duplicated doesn’t mean that anecdotal results are not valid.

“The first thing to learn about SCIENCE is that it is mutable, not constant. It is a process, not a conclusion.

“Pragmatic solutions may work for some. And the ones who find it a help should share it. A solution should not be discounted if it doesn’t work for everyone.”

Chris in Andrew, Iowa, offered this:

“Yellow mustard really worked for me this morning! I used it because I was out of dill pickle juice, which also works! The cramp was in my shin all the way to my foot and arch!”

Cathy in Harrison, Arkansas, has this observation:

“I loved reading about this new development.

“Gentle stretching has helped me overcome nighttime leg and foot cramps, too. And mustard and pickle juice have given me relief when I do get hit with a cramp.

“I have wondered whether the mustard/pickle thing had to do with nerves and the little ‘shock’ you get when you take that tangy remedy straight. Now, for another idea. As I read the article, I imagined what it is like to eat a spoonful of mustard. I could almost taste it. The salivary glands kicked in a little. If you are out somewhere and can’t get to the fridge, could just thinking very intently about taking in a big spoonful of tangy mustard trigger some relief? I’m going to try it next time a cramp comes on.”

Share your own reaction to this muscle cramp remedy below in the comment section. If you love these sorts of kitchen cupboard solutions for common symptoms, you will find our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies right up your alley. Now would be a great time to start your holiday shopping.

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  1. Penny

    I get leg cramps in the night. I get about 2/3 C. of milk and cover the top of it with paprika. I stir it well and drink it fast. It is instant relief for me and I sleep so much better.

    For heartburn or acid reflux, I eat an apple or a carrot. Of course this is during night time. I also sleep so much better.

    These two problems don’t happen often. Just once in a while.

  2. Peggy

    I like Simple Solutions that are quick, easy and affordable. I started out years ago using vinegar honey and water for arthritis, which works just great.

    I use one tablespoon of honey and 1 of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink this twice a day. I I also used this for the tendonitis in my arms because I could not brush my hair or my teeth in less than one hour.

    I was put on blood pressure medication and this caused a very bad rash. I got off the BP medication and ended up with beet juice which I juiced every day for a year year. I quit taking the beet juice several months ago and my BP is 128 over 70. I still have a container of beet juice in the freezer just in case.

    I used to have cramps, charlie horses in my legs and started taking mustard. I put a teaspoon or so in my hand and eat it. The cramp goes away right away. I had to have a hip replacement and had started taking tumeric, black pepper and garlic powder sprinkled on my food for the pain.

    While in the hospital I had this in a glass spice bottle with me and sprinkled it on my food. I ended up in a care center and continue to use this concoction every time I ate. I cut down on the pain pills within a week and a half and later down to one 5 milligram oxycodone. I soon ended all the pain pills.

    I still use the tumeric Etc in my soups, on my cottage cheese, scrambled eggs and anything else just because it is an inflammatory concoction. The recipe for this is: Equal parts of each which I blended in my blender put in glass spice bottles. I got this recipe from of all places, The Peoples Pharmacy Newsletter!

    I am 76 years old and doing quite well. Oh yes, I told this to a friend of mine who had back pain for as long as I have known him over 20 years. He sent me a Christmas card and said he is relatively free of pain without pain pills for the first time in a long long time. He also is over the age of 70 and doing quite well.

  3. Dee
    Ventura county

    I tried the mustard last night and it worked great!

    I appreciate this greatly!

  4. Lynn

    The person with the equal parts cinnamon, ginger & paprika said use equal parts which means if you use a tsp of one match it with a tsp of the other 2. You select how much you want to make

  5. Phyllis

    Can the person that wrote this remedy (below) , be more specific?
    It doesn’t form enough liquid to drink it?

    I put equal amounts of Ceylon cinnamon, ginger and paprika in a shot glass. Then I added a teaspoon of fresh lime juice and honey to sweeten. It’s delicious.

  6. Phyllis
    Buffalo, NY

    How can you drink this, it is not liquid when you mix all of the ingredients together. Can you add water?

  7. Betty

    Regarding the cinnamon/ginger/paprika concoction, I think it is irresponsible to post this without specific amounts and instructions. For example, do you fill the shot glass with water and stir the spices in? Then do you add the honey and lemon juice? What should the temperature of the water be? How often do you take this? Is it a temporary relief, or does it have long-lasting healing properties? The instructions and details are extremely lacking in FACTS about mixing and using.

  8. Barbara
    Plano, TX

    There are no answers to the questions regarding the amounts of
    ginger, cinnamon and paprika. I assume that a “shot glass” is about and ounce of liquid. The lime juice with honey is maybe a TB and the three ingredients no more than a 1/2 tsp each. Is that about right.

  9. Nancy
    Melbourne, FL

    The herbalist I’ve been seeing recommended keeping a jar with solid Himalayan salt and filtered water on my shelf. The rocks of salt will only dissolve to certain amount of saturation. Add more salt or water as needed. When cramps awaken me I take 1Tablespoon of the very salty water in a small glass of water. The cramps are gone before I finish swallowing all of the salty water!

  10. Gale

    Is it safe to keep a container of mustard unrefrigerated?

  11. Andrea

    Did the lady mention how much of the spices she used for her homemade hotshot? She only gave amounts of lime juice and honey. I like the idea of natural remedies myself. Even though my cholesterol jumped significantly in a year’s time my PCP suggested red yeast rice and dietary tweaks. It did, in fact, go down. My saving grace is naturally high HDLs (120). My BP has been stubborn, requiring 3 meds at this time. Also, my A1c has been as high as 6.1, now at 5.7 and LDLs still a bit too high.
    The concoction was actually tasty.

  12. Mike

    I’m glad that someone in the scientific community finally got to the bottom of this problem. That’s great. The problem is that their “cure” is worse than the cramp. I’ll stick with yellow mustard.

  13. Liz B.
    DFW, TX

    Every day, I’ve been adding Ceylon cinnamon to my breakfast cereal, taking a ginger root capsule daily, and eating a small bit of spicy salsa on a chip — and it’s really helping. No more night-time cramping in my legs and feet. I think Dr. Bean has found the magic elixir! Thanks

  14. ron

    The Hotshot say’s capsaicin but the article says parprika. That’s quite different.

  15. Edwin

    If you have a leg cramp during the night, how efficient is taking mustard or cinnamon-ginger-paprika preparations? Do you have them by your bed or do you have to go to the refrigerator? If the latter, the cramp will likely have seized up your leg making walking almost impossible, and taking mustard during the night seems awkward and will likely cause messy covers and sheets.

    I have offered this suggestion before; however, here it is again for those of you who may not have seen it. I have been bothered by night cramps in my legs for years. I discovered if I get out of bed rapidly and place the majority of my weight on my cramping leg and bear down, the cramp will lessen and then disappear. Also, you do not end up with the pain caused by allowing the cramp to continue to its finish. This method has never disappointed me; it is quick and painless.

  16. Phil

    Regarding muscle cramps, I discovered something that consistently works with astonishing speed. One night, after a long and challenging run, I woke up to an excruciating “charlie horse” in my right calf muscle. I hobbled out to the kitchen, chewed up two prunes, and swallowed them. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, the prunes were still on their way to my stomach when the cramping completely subsided!

    Over the years, I have repeated this treatment a few times, with the same fabulous result on each occasion. I guess the “secret” is the prunes’ potassium – possibly in just the right concentration. Perhaps the prunes’ natural sugar content may have been helpful as well.

    By the way, a couple of prunes make a great energy snack before running or swimming, and they never have compelled me to make an emergency “rest stop”.

  17. Renee V.
    Palm Bay, FL

    When the person above said they used “equal parts” of the 3 ingredients, how much of each did they use? It seems whenever I read about some homemade remedy like this, no one ever gives exact measurements. I’d hate to use more cinnamon, for example, than someone should ingest at one time.

  18. cpmt

    huumm yellow mostard also is good for reflex/heartburn. And sometimes to have low levels of magnesium, potasium or even iron, may cause these muscle cramps.

  19. alxzba

    as a long time “refluxer”, these recipes appear to be a trigger for a reflux reaction. Will appreciate any comment from those who have a similar problem and have tried the suggestions. Thanks.

  20. Cara

    I use pickle juice for muscle cramps. I think why it and mustard works is because they contain vinegar. The potassium in vinegar probably helps. Think I’ll try the formula above. I have the ingredients for it.

  21. Carol

    I would like to try this Hotshot home remedy. How much of the ingredients in “equal amounts”?

  22. Diana
    Palm Beach Gardens, FL

    I don’t always have limes but will try it with lemon juice. Of course, I always have yellow mustard and pickles if it doesn’t work with the lemon. My husband gets them much more often than I do so I will try it with one of us at some point and see if any of these solutions work but I’m glad to have a few to try out. And I personally believe we have all we need on this planet to live healthfully if we just pay attention. I don’t think we have a “need” for pharmaceuticals, although they may have there place in a crisis. Thank you Joe and Terry Graedon for continuing to provide us with alternatives!

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