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Can Coenzyme Q10 Control Severe Muscle Cramps?

Coenzyme Q10 supplements appear to prevent painful muscle cramps, including those associated with statin cholesterol drugs.

We are always delighted when we learn about a new way to treat a common problem. If it doesn’t require a prescription, so much the better! That’s why we were excited to hear from a reader who found that taking a Coenzyme Q10 supplement controls painful muscle cramps.

Coenzyme Q10 to Prevent Muscle Cramps:

Q. I get severe muscle cramps frequently, sometimes so bad I have nearly called an ambulance. My head, neck, shoulders and ribs act up most frequently, along with my inner thighs. Over the years, doctors have not been helpful.

Eventually, I found a new doctor. On my first visit, she suggested I try Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). I take 400 mg a day, and I don’t get muscle cramps any longer. However, if I miss just one day, they start all over again to remind me that my body NEEDS CoQ10.

What Is Coenzyme Q10?

A. Our bodies actually make Coenzyme Q10. That’s because the mitochondria, energy factories in our cells, use it as an essential compound. CoQ10, as it is known, fights inflammation. Consequently, physicians have prescribed it primarily for preventing or treating cardiovascular disease (Antioxidants, April 22, 2020). In addition, muscles must use this compound to function properly (Nutrients, May 17, 2021).

We appreciate you sharing your experience. The only studies we could find on CoQ10 supplements for muscle cramps were in the context of statin-associated muscle symptoms (Journal of the American Heart Association, Oct. 2, 2018). [We have written about that use here.]

The authors of this review conclude:

“CoQ10 supplementation ameliorated statin-associated muscle symptoms, implying that CoQ10 supplementation may be a complementary approach to manage statin-induced myopathy.”

Pickle Juice for Hot-Weather Muscle Cramps:

CoQ10 is not the only remedy readers have used to ease painful muscle cramps. Another favorite is pickle juice:

Q. If I work hard in the hot sun for a couple of hours I get serious muscle cramps. Last week I worked for nine hours at 90 plus degrees scraping, sanding, caulking and painting my house.

Later I had dreadful cramps in my back muscles, feet, hands and legs. My usual remedies (drinking hot mint tea, soaking in a hot tub) didn’t work. I took a walk, but the cramps returned as soon as I sat down.

A friend told me to drink pickle juice. The cramps ceased after a tablespoonful.

I have no idea how it works. It just does.

A. Many other readers have found that sipping pickle juice can get rid of muscle cramps quickly. It may be the sodium or the vinegar or some other unidentified ingredient. There’s even some research to support this remedy (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, May, 2010). While the Coenzyme Q10 prevents muscle cramps, pickle juice provides quick relief when they strike. We suspect that the flavor of pickle juice activates transient receptor potential (TRP) channels to reverse the cramp.

Yellow Mustard Against Cramps:

Another option is yellow mustard. This, too, may be working by activating TRP channels.

One reader, a landscaper, offered this testimonial:

“I keep mustard packets in my glove compartment, my emergency kit for disaster preparedness and two places in my home. They work for the kind of muscle cramps that come on over a period of hours. I have a very physically demanding occupation that causes me to sweat a lot. I imagine the imbalance in electrolytes has something to do with the muscle cramps. Swallowing a packet of mustard works fast.”

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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