man with leg cramp, muscle cramps disappear

As football teams gear up for practice, coaches around the country are stocking up on pickle juice. Why? Tradition has it that a gulp or two of pickle juice makes muscle cramps disappear. Now we have some understanding of the possible mechanism.

Pickle Juice Makes Muscle Cramps Disappear:

Q. I often get muscle cramps in my legs. I have found that drinking pickle juice relieves the cramps within a minute.

It doesn’t matter what kind of pickle juice-dill pickles, sweet pickles, bread-and-butter pickles. I’ve even used relish juice. I’ve recommended it to others who have used it with similar success.

A. Coaches have long relied on pickle juice to treat their players’ muscle cramps. We suspect that vinegar is the magic ingredient.

How Does Pickle Juice Work?

At one time, people thought muscle cramps were due to dehydration, potassium depletion or low magnesium. While those factors may make people more susceptible to cramps, the more recent hypothesis is that muscle cramps result from motor neurons firing uncontrollably.

Strong flavors like vinegar, ginger, hot peppers, mustard and quinine all stimulate receptors (TRP channels) that can override the inappropriate nerve firing. You will find other muscle cramp remedies and hundreds of additional simple treatments for common ailments in our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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  1. Pat

    As a person who frequently gets cramps during the night, I welcomed the chance to try something natural….and, it has worked. But, to go even further, the other night I woke not with cramps but barely able to move with sciatic nerve pain and realized my knees were really aching….HARD!

    It was late to be taking pain meds so I got up and tried a tablespoon of mustard. By the time I got back into bed I had no more pain, of any kind. Before reaching for any kind of medications for any kind of pain, I will first try my mustard. For me it has really worked wonders. Pat

    • Phil
      Palm Springs, CA area

      Unfortunately, I’m one of those few Americans who detests yellow mustard, and Dijon and spicy mustard are only just okay. Turmeric, I’ve read, is in mustard and gives it its color. I take Turmeric supplements and use it on food as a spice. For me it has helped greatly with inflammation which in turn has helped with overall aches and pains, but unfortunately not with leg cramps. Don’t know if that actually contributed to the subject being discussed, but I thought I’d share it anyway.

  2. Babs

    Are the pickles to be dill?

  3. Frost

    I often carry small packets of mustard for fast food. When I get cramps outhiking, or driving home afterwards, I open one up and it keeps the cramps at bay. Carrying a jar of pickle juice is not practical, but a few mustard packets fit just about everywhere.

  4. Jan

    What causes motor neurons to fire uncontrollably?

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