The People's Perspective on Medicine

FDA Bans Quinine For Leg Cramps

For years, quinine was available in drugstore products to relieve muscle cramps, but the FDA has now banned it for this use. What can people do?

Quinine is one of the oldest drugs in the pharmacy. Even before the Spanish discovered the New World, native healers in Peru were using the bark of the cinchona tree to treat fever, malaria and indigestion. An Augustinian monk wrote about the uses of the “fever tree” back in 1633.

Quinine Against Fever:

In Europe, this bark proved useful for treating the fever and chills of malaria. Chemists later determined that the active ingredient in this healing bark was quinine, and it was used around the world wherever mosquitoes carried the disease. The British even incorporated it into their “tonic water.”

Quinine for Muscle Cramps:

No one in the United States has worried about malaria for decades. But quinine was popular as a treatment for nighttime leg cramps. For years, people bought this drug in over-the-counter products such as Legatrin, Q-vel and Quinamm to relieve muscle cramps.

In 1994 the FDA banned quinine from over-the-counter sale. The agency decided that quinine was too dangerous for people to take without medical supervision.

Dangers of Quinine:

Quinine can cause serious side effects, including life-threatening anemia and irregular heartbeats. Other hazards include severe headache, visual disturbances, rash, itching, ringing in the ears, nausea, diarrhea and liver damage. If a pregnant woman took quinine, her baby could be born with a defect.

The FDA maintains that leg cramps are not a serious health problem, while quinine can be lethal. Over the years, more than 90 people have died of quinine complications.

Restricting Quinine Prescriptions:

Despite this, nearly two million Americans took quinine to relieve their leg cramps. Doctors continued to prescribe quinine sulfate for restless legs as well as leg cramps.

Then the FDA decided to crack down. Only one brand of quinine was allowed on the market. Qualaquin is approved only for treating certain types of malaria, and it cost (in 2007) more than $4 per pill.

The more rigorous ban made millions of people unhappy.

One reader wrote,

“It was refreshing that our doctor prescribed quinine sulfate for my husband’s restless leg syndrome. He takes one pill each night before bedtime and gets wonderful results.”

Tonic Water for Leg Cramps:

Even people who used quinine successfully for years no longer have access to it. Some people have found, however, that drinking tonic water can alleviate leg cramps, especially those that occur at night.

Q. I have suffered with nocturnal leg cramps for many years. Long ago, my doctor prescribed quinine pills and they did the trick. No more cramps.

Then the FDA, in its wisdom, banned the sale of quinine. After much pain, I discovered tonic water contains quinine. Every evening I have a large glass of tonic water and have no more cramps!

A. Doctors used to prescribe 200 to 300 mg of quinine for nighttime leg cramps. A glass of tonic water would provide about 20 mg, one tenth of the dose.

There is recent evidence to support the FDA’s decision to limit quinine prescriptions. A study found that British people taking at least 100 mg of a quinine compound daily for a year were more likely to die during the five year follow-up period (Fardet, Nazareth & Petersen, JAMA, May 9, 2017). Because a liter bottle of tonic water contains only 83 mg of quinine, drinking tonic water provides far less of this compound. Drinking tonic water is generally considered safe, but there are some people who need to avoid it completely.

We suspect that the bitter taste of the quinine in tonic water may stimulate special channels (transient receptor potential, or TRP, channels) in the mouth, throat and stomach. Even a small amount might be sufficient to stop leg cramps quickly. You can learn more about this fascinating explanation by listening to our interview with neuroscientist Bruce Bean.

Other Remedies for Leg Cramps at Night:

Although there aren’t very many other medications that can relieve leg cramps, there are a number of home remedies that can help. One popular remedy is pickle juice or pickle relish. These work through the same TRP channels that we think are responsible for the quinine effect.

We discuss a number of home remedies and other approaches to this common problem in our Guide to Leg Pain. One reader had good results from an inexpensive remedy:

“After suffering with leg cramps for over 30 years, I heard about putting a bar of soap under the bottom sheet of the bed. Nothing kept me from having to get up and massage my feet and legs until I tried the soap. What a relief to be able to finally get a good night’s sleep!”

Other approaches to nocturnal leg cramps include drinking low-sodium V-8 juice, consuming extra calcium, magnesium and B vitamins. Some even report that a little yellow mustard can relieve nighttime leg cramps. These remedies appear to be safer than quinine, and possibly even better than tonic water.

Revised 2/26/2018

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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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I only began searching for answers. After I was awakened by a ‘Charlyhorse’ in each leg that I could not get rid of I went to see my docdor. That’s when I first learned about the quinine. So I decided to look it up. I had cramps for a few years but one at a time, and I usually stop them at right at the start. But it is sure painful..

Leg cramps while driving is freaking dangerous! Anything that can prevent this likely saves more lives than are reported on this forum as being lost due to the medicine. Also, while I choose not to use nicotine or strong narcotic pain meds, I would definitely take legatrin again. Maybe, the FDA is neither safe nor effective!

Very useful information. Last night I a had a bout with upper leg cramps in both legs. The only thing I had was a potassium pill with cinnamon. I drank with water. After an hour, I fell asleep again, but I still had the quivering muscles in my hamstrings in waking up at 6am. I finally took 2 pills that are similar to quinine pills at noon. Got dizzy, fell asleep, but the cramping went away. I drank plenty of OJ and water. I feel good, but I’m keeping vigilant on anything else I might notice that’s unusual.

I have used nova quinine, and it was the only thing that worked. If they have pulled it off the market I have no idea what I can do. If someone can help, please let me know. I live in Canada. Thank you, Laurie

I’ve had leg camps for years. Drinking tonic water helps. By useing a lime in it takes away the bitter taste. Now, I use this new rub THERAWORX RELIEF IT WORKS. Also use it on my hands, that has also help the cramps in my automatic hands.

My sister had restless leg syndrome and was told she should take the combination of calcium, magnesium and zinc. She takes that combination in a pill now and no longer has restless legs.

She had also experienced leg cramps. I gave her a pair of strong support hose, and that stopped the leg cramps.

The FDA thinks they are the police of the world, but thankfully, they can’t take the quinine out of my Tonic water.

The FDA seemingly has too much time on their hands with all the inconsequential rules they come up with. Why can’t they address something like the prices imposed on the general public by the drug companies? There will always be abusers and you cannot legislate this away. The FDA needs to get busy with things that really matter.

A spoon or two of yellow mustard takes care of night time muscle cramps. Keep a ‘fast food’ package or two in your nightstand so when it happens you don’t have to figure out how you’re going to get to the kitchen!

My husband suffered from leg cramps and restless legs. His sleep doctor (he has sleep apnea) recommended magnesium. It has worked really well for him. About a year ago I started having restless legs, so I am taking magnesium as well. Now I only have restless legs if I forget to take magnesium. The kind we take is magnesium amino acid chelate 500 mg. I take one a day, and my husband needs to take two.

The FDA is out of control. Big brother is in charge.

I get night leg cramps 5 to 10 x a month for 4-5 years. Now 73 y old. Recommend 1) drink plenty of water thru evening to flush electrolytes (salts) out. Eating salty potato chips b4 bed guaranteed to give cramps! If woken with cramps take a pee and drink more water! Works well for me. Sometimes takes 2 trips to b room but no more for rest of night. 2) head to fridge and drink pickle juice. sweet style bread and butter Bicks pickles are my favorite. But even plain or malt vinegar and some sugar and water will work 75% of time cramps will stop within a few seconds. Tested by football teams to work. Studies say pickle juice hitting throat will send signal to brain intercepting cramp signal. Whatever the reason, it works for me. Just google it! 3) fortunately in Canada we can buy via prescription 90 tabs of quinine sulfate 200 mg for $40 at drugstore. Never had adverse effects though my dr did say it rarely might have some. Look for symptoms as with any drug. Tabs take effect quickly and you get back to sleep for rest of night easily. It’s my 3rd choice as I prefer to avoid meds when possible. BTW one would have to drink MANY MANY bottles of tonic water to equal one 200 mg tab Probably drinking any salt free liquid will flush salt out, as per item 1. Ps can’t believe putting soap under sheets would have any effect except for a psychological “positive attitude” influence. If it works, stay with it!
Best wishes – it’s a nasty problem.

I just want the people who decide what’s good for us to suffer from leg cramps like I have. I don’t get them often but the only thing I’ve found that cures them is quinine. None of the remedies on the market today do a bit of good. My legs cramp so hard that I’ve scared the crap out of my wife because I wake up screaming in pain. It’s 4:04AM and I’m awake because of cramps. Used to be If I got a cramp I’d take one tablet and in about 10 to 15 minutes it would start to settle down and by 20 minutes it was gone as if it had never been except that the muscle that cramped hurt for days afterward.

I’ve tried every over the counter med still available. I’ve tried taking calcium, magnesium B complex, multivitamins, D3, A, all together, and eating bananas and several things that I’ve read on the internet and none of them work. I’m not offering anything to try because nothing works except quinine. I took maybe 5 pills a year. I can have no empathy for the busybodies who decide that they know what’s best. Everybody is different. They make no allowance for that in their “we know what’s best” control freak minds. The federal government needs to butt out of our personal lives.

I am interested in the soap solution, But sleeping an chunks of soap under your sheet painful?

There is plenty of evidence, and not just anecdotal, that quinine relieves muscle cramps. It is possible that it has little ability to prevent the cramps, but so what. Take it when you have a cramp. Obviously the decisionmakers at the FDA do not suffer from leg cramps otherwise they would not have made such a poorly informed decision. Agreed that some people have reacted adversely to quinine, even died, but you can say that about many prescription drugs.

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Dec 8;(12):CD005044. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005044.pub2.
Quinine for muscle cramps.
El-Tawil S1, Al Musa T, Valli H, Lunn MP, El-Tawil T, Weber M.
Author information
Update in
Quinine for muscle cramps. [Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015]
Muscle cramps can occur anywhere and for many reasons. Quinine has been used to treat cramps of all causes. However, controversy continues about its efficacy and safety.

To assess the efficacy and safety of quinine in treating muscle cramps.

We searched The Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Register, The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (Issue 3, 2010), MEDLINE, EMBASE and reference lists of articles up to July 2010.

Randomised controlled trials of people of all ages with muscle cramps in any location and of any cause, treated with quinine or its derivatives.

Three authors independently selected trials for inclusion, assessed risk of bias and extracted data. We contacted study authors for additional information.

We identified 23 trials with a total of 1586 participants. Fifty-eight per cent of these participants were from five unpublished studies. Quinine was compared to placebo (20 trials, n =1140), vitamin E (four trials, n = 543), a quinine-vitamin E combination (three trials, n = 510), a quinine-theophylline combination (one trial, n = 77), and xylocaine injections into the gastrocnemius muscle (one trial, n = 24). The most commonly used quinine dosage was 300 mg/day (range 200 to 500 mg).Compared to placebo, quinine significantly reduced cramp number over two weeks by 28%, cramp intensity by 10%, and cramp days by 20%. Cramp duration was not significantly affected.A significantly greater number of people suffered minor adverse events on quinine than placebo (risk difference +3%, 95% confidence intervals 0% to 6%), mainly gastrointestinal symptoms. Overdoses of quinine have been reported elsewhere to cause potentially fatal adverse effects, but in the included trials there was no significant difference in major adverse events compared with placebo (risk difference 0%, 95% confidence intervals -1% to 2%). One participant suffered from thrombocytopenia (0.12% risk) on quinine.A quinine-vitamin E combination, vitamin E alone, and xylocaine injections into gastrocnemius were not significantly different to quinine across all outcomes, including adverse effects. Based on a single trial comparison, quinine alone was significantly less effective than a quinine-theophylline combination but with no significant differences in adverse events.

There is moderate quality evidence that quinine significantly reduces cramp frequency, intensity and cramp days in dosages between 200 and 500 mg/day. There is moderate quality evidence that with use up to 60 days, the incidence of serious adverse events is not significantly greater than for placebo in the identified trials. Further research is required on the optimal dose and duration of use, and also on alternative treatments.

Comment in
[Quinine is effective in prevention of muscle cramps]. [Praxis (Bern 1994). 2012]
PMID: 21154358 DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005044.pub2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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I’m also a victim of night muscle cramps on both of my legs, calves, feet , my toes and sometimes my hips. I have tried Quinine tonic and it works fine. But I have Acid Reflux and it affects my stomach. I keep reading about bars of soap under the bed sheets.

But no one is really saying how to go about doing this. Those of you who are using the soap method, please send information. I’m interested… It sounds too simple for it to work. But I’m willing to try anything that will hep me get rid of these leg cramps.
Thank you,

For the soap remedy, is there a specific type/ingredient/brand? I heard one woman say she places a small sliver in each sock every night. What is the proper way to use the soap? I get cramps mostly in my calves and feet; had one in my thigh and one in my ankle bone area that were pretty terrible. I usually take Hyland’s Leg Cramp tablets, Formula 303 and use the Hyland’s cream, but I’m looking for a natural and cheaper remedy that I can take or use everyday to help prevent them in the first place.

I will also try the tonic water with cranberry or orange juice.

Thanks to all of you for the suggestions! I hate that there are this many people suffering from this. :-(

I’ve been plagued with leg cramps/Charlie horses for hears and have tried everything that anyone suggested, including Doctors, without results. I went to a natural path that concocted tinctures, also had a compounding pharmacy make up special formulas for me and nothing!!! I literally quit sleeping and walked the floors most of the night to prevent cramps. Recently my new family dr said try buying a six pack of small tonic waters and drink one each night before bed. I haven’t had a problem since! I find that I have to drink at least six ounces because I’ve tried less and I will still have the twinges or beginning of cramping that will wake me up. I’m very happy with this discovery!

To get low dose quinine, just buy diet tonic water at the market.
take 4 oz before sleeping. Only costs a dollar for a big bottle.

Many folks get leg cramps in bed because they stretch with their knees bent. Always straighten your legs before stretching. Toes toward knees. Push through heels. Enjoy a cramp free stretch every time.

A few years ago there was a product on the market called Quinamm. It was manufactured by Merrell Labs. It appeared to be pretty effective for nocturnal recumbency leg cramps.

FDA pulled it off the market.

Perhaps some low cinchona bark and aminophylline combination might work?

Well, I have horrible leg spasms that make me to contort and bend my body continuously, in every direction, just to get a second of relief. It still doesn’t work or go away for hours or sometimes, days. :/ I will jerk, jump, pulsate and throb and the bad thing about it, it is not only in my legs but my whole body.

I have found ONLY one solution to my problem that makes them go completely away, but in some states it is not legal. Just taking one hit off of a joint does the trick and I am not joking either. I’m not the kind to smoke weed either or do that, but hey…when you deal with spasms, due to nerve damage, I was willing to try anything to make them go away. What happened was, I was so miserable one night and my friend told me about it and happened to have some with her.

I told her that I was willing to try it and that is the end of the story. Done and over with..not having to find any other solutions because that worked for me.

Can you please tell me, what was the item work for you???
Thank you.

I’ve had RLS for years and tonic water used to work for me. Not so much anymore. I had a left knee replacement 2 months ago and now the cramping seems to zero in on my left leg (of course). I’ve tried mustard, bananas, Hyland’s with quinine, massage with Rosemary oil, and onward. Both of my doctors have nothing to offer and avoid muscle relaxants. The Hylands helps a little but seems like I still have to get up and walk.

The FDA is a cruel agency for outlawing this remedy. Cramps cause real suffering for millions. It’s all about money and those big pharmaceutical corporations. Buy it wherever you can. It also called Cinchona. Thank goodness for the internet.

My cramps are mostly in my feet, I take just about every product, and then I take 1/2 cap of Cal 600 mg/D3 800mg and go to sleep. I don’t like it too much, read about the side effects. Sometimes I wake up with a little cramp and take a brand-name capsule. I might try the soap in bed, if I find out how.

FYI, there is quinine in tonic water.

I remember taking Q-vel it was so nice I kind of got addicted to it.

I had suffered back cramps when I went to bed. After researching, I found that a lack of Magnesium (a vital mineral in a small amount is needed by the body) can cause muscle cramps. Magnesium is available from only a few foods, some that I don’t eat. It is also one that is not tested in labs unless specifically requested.

I purchased Magnesium Oxide (research shows only 4% absorbed daily) OTC at Walmart and within 2 days, muscle cramps were gone. I reviewed my dosage (250 mg a day) with my Doctor and he approved. Just warned me not to take more due to high amount of negative side effects. Magnesium is not water soluble like B vitamins so it stays in your body up to 30 days. I did stop taking it for a week and the cramps returned. I now take it every other day with food and have no more cramps.

I too have severe leg cramps, in fact they wake me up most nights and my calf muscles are sore for days. Two days ago I had two cramps one right after the other in my left leg and another one in my right leg. I can’t take quinine because my cardiologist forbids it, I have a pacemaker and it is the kind that if my Energizer bunny quits I quit but before this I drank quinine water, you know the type used to make a gin and tonic. It works and as far as crooked FDA is concerned they don’t bother it. My doctor at that time told me to have a gin and tonic every night before bed and I wouldn’t get cramps, I told him I didn’t like gin but I actually learned to chug the quinine water down and I didn’t get cramps. Forget to take it and get a cramp, just grab a quick swig and the cramp will be gone in a few minutes.

Think of all the new drugs that have more side effects than what you take them for and are legal. Also how many law suits because of them! Why havn’t I heard the same about Quinine? How lame is that?

Have any of you had experience with quinine waters used for neuropathy in your feet and legs? It was recommended to me by an acquaintance.

Fred, I totally agree with you. Seems as if getting up every night with those painful cramps would be more of a strain on the body especially as an older person . Although I am in good shape my heart can take it. I can’t imagine that others may not be in good shape for whatever reason. When the cramps attack I jump out of bed and I know my heart racing in million miles a minute I’m losing sleep which also can’t be good but one quinine pill a night is going to give me all the side effects.

If it works they don’t want us to have it!

We have friends in Arizona that the husband gets cramps in his legs & back ever since he had back surgery & they fused a couple of vertebrae. Quinine is the only thing that helps. Dr’s have prescribed different pain meds but they are just dosing him & he can’t think clearly. Quinine doesn’t work that way. They take a trip to Canada once a year & go to a Dr there & he writes out a prescription for enough Quinine to last about 1 year. Then they go back again when he needs more. He was getting 7-9 cramps per evening/night. Now he gets very few & they aren’t very bad like when he doesn’t take the quinine.

For a very few who have abused quinine, the almighty FDA has told all of the severe leg cramp recipients that we can no longer purchase it. This is indicative of the Judge who can deliver a verdict without a jury. Who are they to tell us what is good for us, when in fact we’ve used it for years. How long must we suffer with this malady before someone with common sense says it’s allowable. It’s our life, must we be told how to live it? The Third Reich is long gone. I have used Quinine tablets for years without any problems for this ailment, now I’m told I can no longer purchase it.

There is hardly a pharmaceutical product that doesn’t have side effects, and many common remedies can be deadly for some people. Think of all the FDA approved well-known and widely-prescribed drugs that have been taken off the market because of the disastrous side effects. Even aspirin can kill. I can’t help feeling that quinine, a cheap natural drug, was taken off the market so that big pharm could cash in on their substitute product. Big moneyed corporations can exert much pressure on government agencies like the FDA.

Quinine is not a drug of abuse, but some people ARE extremely sensitive to it and may have life-threatening reactions. That is why FDA has restricted quinine only for treating a serious disease: malaria.

I used to get leg cramps and cramps in my feet and toes. I asked a pharmacist what I could do and he suggested Quinine. No prescription was needed, he just sold me a bottle and I took them as needed – until one day I had a headache and the only thing in the office to take was aspirin. I was never told that I shouldn’t take aspirin and quinine in the same day – I wound up in the hospital with NO platelets. Even after a transfusion – I still had NO Platelets. Had I been in an accident, I would have bled to death immediately. So, if you use quinine in any form or fashion – DO NOT take regular aspirin.

We could not find this interaction listed, but quinine alone can cause thrombocytopenia (loss of platelets). This can be a very serious condition.

I found a pharmacy in n.y. where I got my quinine pills from and i’v been taking them for years with no problem.

Quinine is only thing that works for my mother. She has cramps almost daily for several hours at a time. The cramps are on her face ribs arms legs and hands. Been to several specialists still no relief. She cannot get quinine anymore because it is illegal. If you can help please email me. I am desperate!!!

The above comments are very interesting. Now here is my ‘take.’…
I have been using soap on top of the bottom sheet for years. Amazingly, I rarely get thigh cramps anymore. I even take a bar of soap when on vacation. Also, I advised my pregnant daughter-in-law about this cure. It worked wonders on her , too. What amazes me is the fact that I have recommended this cure for probably 100 people, or more. So many people have refused to try it because it sounds ‘silly.’ Some people are stupid!!!
Also, I have tried quinine cocktail mixer. Works quite well.

Hyland Leg Cramps with quine is sold today over-the-counter at GNC stores. You can also order it on line at many sites. If the FDA banned the product, it is not affecting this brands sales. Purchased it in the last week with no problem.

I have had serious nighttime leg cramping intermittently for a number of years. What I’ve found works to relieve them is eating half a frozen banana. Alternately, using a powerful hand-held massager on the cramping muscle helps stop the cramping. I have not determined any reliable preventive regimen. Maybe the tonic water will be the ticket. I’ll try that. I like to mix it with orange juice, or drink it straight.

Big Government steps in again to save all the ignorant little people. So now you can’t get quinine for medicinal purposes, but you can still buy tonic water for cocktails and bitter drinks. Obviously the makers of tonic water aren’t getting their quinine from the pharmacy at $4.00 a pill. So where can I get it to make my own tonic?

Dill pickle juice, yes, pickle juice. Leg cramps waking you up? About 2 oz will relax the muscles in under 10 minutes.

I have posted a number of comments about leg cramps that have been torturing me for the last 12 years. I only get them when I do physical work that involves me bending at the waist, which is most of the work I do. They hamstring cramps had been so brutal at times that I began thinking about checking out altogether. I visited more than 12 different specialists — neurologist, 3 neurosurgeons, acupuncturist, chiropractor, vascular surgeon, etc. Two months ago I decided to have neurosurgery (a foriminotomy at L5) on the chance that my cramps were being caused by a pinched nerve in my lower back.

Well, it did not work. I continue to get the cramps at night, 12 to 18 hours after a few hours or less of physical work. BUT I JUST DISCOVERED SOMETHING THAT WORKS TO GET RID OF THEM INSTANTLY!!! In all the years I’ve been reading about this horrendous problem, I have never read about this quick solution. HERE IT IS: If I straighten my cramped leg and raise it up and back over my head, so as to stretch my hamstring to the max, the cramp dissipates in one or two seconds !!! It works every single time for me. The hardest part is kicking the blankets out of the way with my right leg so that I can raise my left leg up and back (the cramps are always in my left leg). If only I’d discovered this 12 years ago. Now here is my question: Does this work for any of you folks?

You are very lucky, because you can raise your leg up and down all over your head, WOW!! Good for you!! I am 81 and CANNOT DO IT. I am drinking ONLY SOMETIMES the Tonic Water with Quinine, I like at very much, but give me VERY BAD pain to my stomach.
Like to buy the Quinine Pills.

I just tried it and it worked imediately. Wow, that is awesome. Thanks for the advice.

Since quinine tablets are so expensive my doctor suggested that I drink about 4 ozs of tonic water each night to relieve my severe night leg cramps. I mix it with cranberry juice to make it taste better. Since I’ve been drinking this my leg cramps have gone away.

Easter Sunday 2014 after working several hours I came home around 3:00 p.m. after being home my legs started with restless leg syndrome. I have had it in the past but did not have anymore of my prescription left. I decided to go to Walmart to see if they had anything I could take. I purchased Hyland P.M. for restless legs I took the required dose and do not remember anything after that. Woke my grandaughter up around midnight putting pans of water on the stove saying I was going to work. What happened was I wrecked my car and got arrested for a DUII and I don’t drink. I don’t not remember anything that happened. My doctor said it was possible a reaction. When I can to my senses I took every ingredient in that product and check all the side effects. There were many that mimics being drunk I am just thankful that I did not kill anyone. I will never take an over the counter product without fully researching it. If anyone knows or has had issues with this product please let me know. Thanks

Quinine is the only thing that works for my leg cramps! It has improved my quality of life 100% and I have not ever had any side effects.

How much of the quinine water do you take in a day. I have been taking up to as much as 16 ounces per day and I am having severe intergestion and I wonder if it is the quinine water that is causing it. Any helpful information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Sandy L.

I agree that quinine is the best treatment for me, but have great difficulties obtaining the drug. My physicians are reluctant to write a prescription fearing reprisals and possible loss of license. Is it possible to visit Canada and become a paying patient of a Canadian doctor and buy quinine on his prescription? I’d be interested to hear of other means of access to this drug. USA is one of the only countries to ban quinine.,

Only hot water in a bath tub has worked for me, but even that can take a few minutes to relax the cramp.

After fighting nighttime leg muscle cramps for several years, I discovered that applying heat – a heating pad or hot water bottle, or, for faster results and/or larger area of muscles affected, very warm water in the shower or a tub, will ‘unknot’ the cramp very quickly. To prevent cramps in the first place, I have found that if I stay fully hydrated (drinking a minimum of 8 8-oz glasses of water or other liquids during the day and evening) they seldom occur.

He did not specify what the quinine was for; only the dosage — 2 pills per day but I only take one at bedtime after a strenuous day. I also have an EKG every few months to check for changes in my heart rhythm. So far, so good, and I have been taking it only as needed for almost ten years.

How on earth do you still get quinine prescribed? I would sell my own mother for abortive of 60.

Octobyra, what did the homeopath say ON THE SCRIP(Rx) that he was treating you for?

I have suffered with severe leg cramps for over ten years — brutal, excruciating and frightening. I have tried every treatment I can find except surgery. The ONLY thing that has ever helped me is quinine sulphate 324 mg at bedtime. I have been buying it (300 mg pills) from India through Canada, but last year I found a homeopathic MD who agreed to prescribe it to me if I signed a form releasing him from possible liability from any harm done by the quinine.
Of course I signed the form and now I can get my scrips filled locally in the U.S. for even less than I was paying for the Canadian orders. The homeopath wrote my scrip for 2 pills per day at my request, and I only need one per day at bedtime, so I can get a two month supply for only $25.00 (my health insurance copayment). I learned from someone else on this blog that back surgery cured his problem, so I researched it for myself. Long story short, I too will be having surgery on my lower back – a foraminotomy at my L-5, where there is foraminal stenosis (possibly pinching a nerve). After two MRI’s and two EMG’s over two years, and consults with four neurosurgeons, one acupuncturist and one chiropractor, the neurosurgeons say that I only have a 50% chance of leg cramp cure after the surgery, because leg cramps are not typical symptoms for pinched nerve in the lower back. But I have to try it because I just can’t live like this.
My cramps are definitely correlated with the work I do as a professional gardener — lots of bending up and down which is a constant grind on my lumbar vertebrae. I also have disk degeneration disease in the lumber spine. Strenuous exertion in hot weather makes it worse despite how much Gatorade I drink. When I stop my gardening work, for winter or a week or more, the cramps don’t happen. I also looked at dermatone maps to see which vertebrae correlated with my cramps (which by the way occur only in my left leg). I found that my cramps were happening in the same areas that correspond to S1 and S2 (hamstring, calf, ankle and foot). But based on my MRI’s, the various doctors assured me that the L5 abnormality is more likely to be the cause of the cramping, that there is a lot of nerve overlap between the various dermatones … hence the surgery for foramina stenosis at that location.
So I hope the foraminotomy surgery works. I know it has for some other people. In the meantime I am so glad I have access to affordable quinine thanks to my homeopath. I hope this info helps at least some of you. May you all find cures or good treatments for this horrible affliction very soon!

Brenda W. | March 10, 2013 8:27 AM | Reply
I have been getting leg cramps since I was pregnant with my son in 1979. I have heard all kind of remedies for this problem, I took this medication for years n years… I do suffer from Anemia (severe) but I can live with that, I cannot live with leg cramps that I get! Sometimes they become so severe I can’t even walk the next day !! I’ve flipped my shoes upside down at the bottom of my bed, I’ve tried just about everything, and the only thing that helps is “QUININE” I feel it should be my decision as to weather or not I choose to use this medication !!
I, too, get terribly painful cramps. I still take quinine but rarely, and as a last resort.
I drink 8oz of sports’ drink every day (Gatorade or similar).
I lie on the bed and raise my legs vertically (to reverse the blood flow)and hold it for a few minutes before going to sleep.
Quinine is now $7 a pill which is a deterrent in itself.
When I get an attack it can be calf cramp, shin splint or foot cramp where my big toe bends back at right angles to my foot – sometimes all three.

Brenda W. | March 10, 2013 8:27 AM | Reply
I have been getting leg cramps since I was pregnant with my son in 1979. I have heard all kind of remedies for this problem, I took this medication for years n years… I do suffer from Anemia (severe) but I can live with that, I cannot live with leg cramps that I get! Sometimes they become so severe I can’t even walk the next day !! I’ve flipped my shoes upside down at the bottom of my bed, I’ve tried just about everything, and the only thing that helps is “QUININE” I feel it should be my decision as to weather or not I choose to use this medication !!
I am in the same position. My night cramps are agonizing and the only sure remedy is quinine. It is now about $7 a pill but it is the only thing that works. If I get a calf-cramp and bend my foot, toes toward me, I get a shin splint which is even more painful. I get foot cramps where my big toe is at right angle to my other toes and nothing relieves it. I only use quinine as a last resort – less than once a month on average.
I think that sports drinks (Gatorade etc.) may reduce the incidence. I drink 8 oz. a day.

Joy A,
Did your cramp return?

When are we the people going to take charge of our own bodies? Government intervention into what is and what isn’t good for your body? It is still my body, or does the FDA own that as well? Oh you can get leg cramp meds. at ten times the cost. We are the greediest country on earth. As far as I am concerned, enough is enough. FDA ******* dumb asses.

This posting is not clear to me. Are you saying that the quinine has caused your leg cramps or made them worse, or are you saying it has lowered your platelet count???

have taken quinine for many years off & on went for pre opp assessment to be told couldn’t give me anesthetic, platelets were too low 80 had been since 2011 have had regular blood-tests as I am diabetic went to hematology it’s the quinine can’t take it any more absolutely in agony with cramp legs ankles you name I get it. please folks don’t take quinine.

I took Quinine Sulfate when I was 17 for leg cramps and it almost killed me. I immediately developed ITP or Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura. My platelets went from well over a count of 300,000 to 40,000 in a short time span. I woke up bleeding from my face, tongue and anywhere I bumped developed large bruises.
After I went to the ER I was admitted and had to receive a week of treatment. I have not had the ITP return since then. I am now 30 and I have found that for leg cramps, the proper nutrition, stretching and the occasional vallum keeps them at bay.
The downside is now I have third stage neurological lyme disease and quinine is recommended in the treatment, but I will never take that again.

I have been getting leg cramps since I was pregnant with my son in 1979. I have heard all kind of remedies for this problem, I took this medication for years n years… I do suffer from Anemia (severe) but I can live with that, I cannot live with leg cramps that I get! Sometimes they become so severe I can’t even walk the next day !! I’ve flipped my shoes upside down at the bottom of my bed, I’ve tried just about everything, and the only thing that helps is “QUININE” I feel it should be my decision as to weather or not I choose to use this medication !!

As far as the soap under the sheet approach, What brand soap? What aroma? What size? Where under the sheet? Inquiring mind want to know!

my father-in-law use to use Q-vel for leg cramps they worked very well for him. I referred these pills to a patient of mine and found out they had taken them off the otc. drugs.

Pinched nerve — YES!!! — you are the second person who has mentioned this, and my excruciating leg cramps started 9 years ago after I had a bad case of sciatica. The cramps are always only in my left leg (where I had the sciatica and they are definitely associated with exertion/exercise of legs and back). My neurologist suggested I get a CT scan of my lower back, as XRay and MRI have shown nothing. I have wondered about pinched nerve for a long time and have tried every treatment except surgery. Only quinine works. Maybe surgery is next (with laser?).

I have had severe leg cramps since I was about 17 and had used OTC Legatrin off and on, but it didn’t always help. I have found out a few years ago I have a pinched nerve in the small of my back which has been causing the muscle spasms. You may want to talk to your doctor about this being a possibility as well. Rule out everything you can when you can.

I have restless legs syndrome for which I take high dose ginko biloba before bed. I also get leg cramps on occasion. I find they are caused in my case by statins. I need the statins I am told but my doctor cooperated with trying to get around the problem, also giving me quinine (uk). Lower dose statin worked for a while then cramps came back. Eventually I realised that the effect was cumulative. I can take the low dose statin for 3 or 4 days before the cramps come back so I now take them for about 4 days then stop for 2 to 3 days. If I get cramps I take the quinine. Taking the statins like that is apparently better than not taking them at all.

Thank God I found this site… I have fibromyalgia & silicone disease. I have to take many meds… Have leg cramps… Now I have them every night since I went to get a shot of cortisone in my hip so I could walk… wondering if that has made them worse. No sleep few minutes at a time… pain is out of this world like you all have said. Have tried quinine tonic, rubbing ben gay (now they are thinking about banning this menthol stuff because a young girl died from it)… I have used this stuff icy hot, pain patches, horse liniment, etc all my life. I helps some… I have pain all over my body but leg cramps take the cake for pain… I have read all your comments & can relate… I will call tomorrow & see if I can get quinine… I don’t know what else to do… by the way I have every vitamin except Butchers broom… will try that also. Thanks for all the help.

I had severe leg cramps a couple of years ago. Have any of you had your thyroid checked? Leg cramps are a symptom of a low thyroid. Just asking?

I don’t have RLS or 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. Takes about a minute until the energy is built up enough to where 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… he’d probably prescribe a high-cost med! I’m on a host of other meds for high blood pressure (Metropopol Tartrate and ExForge, diabetes (Glimeperide), a blood thinner (Aggrenox),a cholesterol med (Tricor) and amyltriptiline for diabetic nerve pain.
So far, no reaction from any of these as far the quinine in the tonic water goes! I don’t have to drink it every night and now am starting to write down what I’ve eaten or drank that may cause my restless feet.

I’ve been taking Hyland’s Leg Cramps pills for about a year, and they did a great job of suppressing my nightly leg cramps. However, I also take prescription meds for hypertension and high cholesterol. This past Wednesday Oct 10 2012, I blacked out while driving home from work, crossed 4 lanes of traffic, knocked over a transformer and ended up facing opposite direction I had been traveling, while gallons and gallons of oil poured out from the transformer, flooding the parking lot where my car had come to rest. I did not come to until after firemen, ambulance, and police had arrived.
Car was totaled; they had to break back window and haul me out through that. While in trauma center, I had another blackout; this time while hooked up to EKG. It showed that my heart flat-lined periodically. While in hospital, they kept defibrillator patches on me, and made sure crash cart was nearby – pretty disconcerting! The doctor attributed the flatlining directly to interaction of the leg cramp pills and hypertension meds, and told me (a) FDA had banned sale of quinine several years ago, and (b) the two meds combined were what was causing my heart to periodically flat-line — and no doubt caused me to pass out while driving. Doctor told me to immediately cease taking the quinine, which I am doing. It was sheer luck (or the grace of God) that I did not cause serious injury or death to other drivers — and that I, myself, was not killed or seriously injured.
Car is totaled, people are amazed when they see photos of it that I escaped with only bruises (some of them pretty spectacular). Per California state law, if a person faints while driving, they are automatically banned from driving for the next six months, which is going to cause incredible hardship for me. I understand that other states have similar laws. If you’re taking prescription hypertension meds AND quinine, you might want to reconsider. It’s not worth the risk.

Oh my God thank goodness you are ok I had a similar issue with the Hylands PM leg cramp meds except I got arrested for a DUII I don’t know remember a thing that happened after I took the required dose When I was told the next day all that I had done without knowing anything about it I research every ingredient in the Hyland the side effects in certain ingredients can cause what happened to me They DO NOT say anything on the box or bottle I think they need to be sued

Neither pickle juice, nor apple cider vinegar, nor muscle relaxants have ever relieved or prevented my leg cramps. For me, only quinine sulphate works.

Pickles, pickle juice and mustard do not contain quinine. What they share in common is that they contain apple cider vinegar! You can also take a spoonful of apple cider vinegar (diluted in juice, water, tea, etc.) right before bed. I find that it usually works.

I’ve had restless leg syndrome since I was a teenager but mostly only when sitting for long periods of time like in a concert. It was not painful, only annoying. Recently, I started to get very painful leg cramps at night. My doctor suggested Tonic water. For me it relieves the pain almost instantly. I sometimes keep a can or bottle beside the bed just in case.
Don’t knock the people that get relief from bars of soap, the brain is our most powerful organ and believing in a cure is half the battle. If we could all get such great placebo effects, it would be wonderful.
The warm socks sounded like a great idea too.
Good luck to everyone in your quests for relief.

So far my source has been perfectly reliable, and inexpensive — thank goodness!

The problem is that you can’t be sure what you get by mail is really what they say it is. The website may have a Canadian address but the pills could be made anywhere.
Remember you can still get it in the US. Now if you can get it OTC in Canada that is probably OK.

Quinine sulphate IS available online from countries overseas. I still buy mine from India and/or Canada without a prescription. Quinine is the ONLY thing that prevents leg cramps for me. If I do get the cramps, an ice pack on the cramp for 4 or five minutes is the only thing that will provide quick relief. Ask your dr. to check your blood every so often if you must take it and are worried about safety. Good luck to all of you!

Did you try prescription quinine?

I have tried all OF THE ABOVE mentioned tactics. None helped. Even the Hyland products were of little use to me & they didn’t last thru the night. I am back with the bags of ice –or frozen veggies! They help the cramps & I don’t have such painful charlie horses the next day or morning. I use them like this–Wrap the ice paks up in a napkin or dish-towel put them on your calves (or shins) & hold them NOT Too tightly in place with a ladies cloth head-band. Or a wide big rubber band just not too Tight! I hope it helps! Good Luck too all the sufferers out there & this hot line. Now I know I am not alone with this!!

I used to get cramps so agonizing that 12 hours later my calves would still be hurting. I get foot cramps, leg cramps in both calves and shins. Quinine definitely works but I’m aware of the danger so I rarely take them – I do carry a few for absolute emergencies. Hylands does bring some relief usually but it’s hard to find – and not cheap. However Gatorade and its competitors have solved the really agonizing attacks. I still get an occasional foot cramp but nothing like I used to. I drink it every day and it’s cheap.
Don’t forget – as I mentioned elsewhere – if you have a cooperative MD you can still buy quinine – but it certainly isn’t cheap.

I have just spent the night with nasty leg jerks. They aren’t exactly cramps, although I have suffered for many years with my toes trying to stretch apart, or cross over each other. The cramps began moving up my shins, which is incredibly painful.
5 years ago I was diagnosed with periodic limb movement disorder and put on Requip XR, used for RLS and Parkinsons. Many of my doctors would rather see me off of it, but after the night I just spent, I would much rather be taking it. I ran out and am waiting for the refill; I was hoping I could wean myself off Requip, but apparently not now. I wonder if the drug is causing the muscles jerks now, more than masking them. I’m not saying that anyone should try it, either, but when quinine became ‘go get some tonic water’, I was happy to have this med to fall back on.
Quinine worked great for my foot cramps for many years, but the Hylands Foot Cramps pills aren’t doing much of anything for me. I believe I was taking 325mg of quinine before I stopped, but just when I needed it. Requip XR I have to take every day without fail.

It’s not the drug companies…it’s the FDA. They only ALLOW one drug company to manufacture and sell the drug in the US and ONLY for Malaria…

I am totally shocked, I was told about quinine tonic water a few years ago by an older lady who said it was good for leg cramps, I never questioned, til I just wondered and looked what it was, and I believe what surprised me most, is it is available, cause I buy the water.
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the use of quinine sulfate as a remedy for restless legs and leg cramps.”
exactly what does banned mean, it still on shelfs, or is there an update to this article?
People’s Pharmacy response: Quinine pills are not available either OTC (as they once were) or by prescription. There is a prescription quinine product on the US market, but its use is supposed to be restricted to treating malaria.
Obviously, tonic water is available in most supermarkets. If you read the label, you can find which ones contain quinine. That is helpful both for those who want to use quinine for leg cramps and for those who need to avoid quinine completely because they are so sensitive to it.

Thanks! Why are so many people suffering from nightly leg cramps and nobody has done a good study of cause and treatment. I have taken and am taking quinine 300mg nightly for the last twenty years and have been checked for any possible side effects and none have been found to date (I am now 84). People who say that this is a “minor” illness or discomfort are totally crazy and I only wish they had a good dose of it – that includes the FDA employees. I can get quinine because I am no longer in the USA. But when I was there last, I was told I could get Qualaquin…… at a price of over US$ 500 for something like 70 pills. Thanks Pharma and FDA!
People’s Pharmacy response: Whoever said, just get Qualaquin was misinformed. Doctors are not supposed to prescribe it for anything but malaria.

Interesting, helpful info and comments. Like others, I looked here looking for something to replace prescription quinine after getting sticker shock at my last planned purchase of same. Another suggestion that worked for me before I discovered quinine was eating a banana before bedtime, which seemed to help.
Cramps were usually worse after strenuous leg use. Once, after a mountain climb I was in no way prepared for, I expected terrible cramps. Fortunately, I obtained, and ate, 3 bananas before bedtime. No cramps that night.
Quine water looks like a good alternative. Since that is not always practical, I think I will also try to get quinine pills from a mail order pharmacy in Canada a friend told me about.

As I read the comments on leg cramps, it is apparent that to most it is a minor annoyance. I have had severe leg cramps since I was 8-9 years old. I use to take potassium pills until a blood test discovered dangerously high potassium levels. The doctor advised Quinine.
Quinine provide almost instant relief…. But as everyone knows, that option is no longer available. The number of people who died from Quinine is small. I suspect the real reason it was taken off the market is because drug dealers used it to cut cocaine. I bet more people died from aspirin during that time than from Quinine. I told my doctor that I had rather die from Quinine than from a leg cramp.
I am now using Hyland’s “quinine” tablets. I don’t think they are working because it is too small of an amount of quinine. Their leg cramp ointment seems to be more effective. I drink quinine water every night… again with doubtful results. Not enough quinine. I am currently have a kidney stone attack and taking Demerol. I don’t know what is going on with the Demerol, but I immediately started cramps in my upper feet and toes… somewhere I never have cramp. I just got up off the sofa from a nap, and both thighs were hit hard by the cramp. The pain was so severe it was almost immobilizing.
The cramp is much more painful than the kidney stone. I also have a history of kidney stones, and except for one really bad stone that required surgery, the leg cramps have always been more painful.
I’m embarrassed to tell anyone I tried the bar of soap. Of course it didn’t do a thing. If you think a bar of soap will prevent leg cramps, then you should be able to prevent cramps by just thinking them away. If a bar of soap prevents cramps, then you don’t have a problem to start with.
My wife has restless legs at night. She finds the Hyland’s ointment prevents that.

I have three people in my family that get very bad leg cramps, and Quinine is the only thing that gives them relief. None of them have ever had any side effects. Why is it in this country every time there is a medication that is very cheap and works, they ban it or tell you not to take it. Thank God we can still get it from Mexico. . . . Oh! and why haven’t they banned drinking “Gin/Vodka & Tonic” ??? isn’t Tonic Quinine water ???

I guess I would be the world’s worst patient to take quinine because I have atrial fibrillation, I am surviving a very rare cancer called Ovarian tetroma carcinoid, I was a living related kidney donor to a family member and I have left leg and knee pain. I also am a registered nurse, a massage therapist and I played competitive in door and out door co-ed soccer until I was 58.
I started having some muscle cramps before my cancer surgery and I have come to believe they are in part due to the elevated seratonin level created ty the carcinoid which is a neuro-endocrine tumor. I also believe the atrial Fib might have been related to the neuro-endocrine tumor.
My tumor was a stage 2 of the 3 stages of carcinoid (neuro-endocrine) tumors and the best chance for a cure is surgical. I had a complete hysterectomy with ovaries and with uterus. I am five years since the surgery but that does not mean that I am out of danger because these cancers are very slow growing. I just met my first “other” patient with cardinoid and she was discovered to have metastasis after after 8 years from surgery.
I have recently started having muscle cramps and increased incidence of Atrial Fib. I am on Sotalol for my atrial fib and have tried the following: icy hot and BenGay with massage, capsacin, effervescent magnesium and potassium, increased fluids, massage, myofacial release techniques, acupuncture, changing shoes, stretching, constant motion at night, sleeping face down with my feet hanging out of the bed. Increase fluids, changing shoes, and acupuncture have helped a little. I also went to an orthopedic surgeon who injected my knee and was thinking of knee replacement. I actually thought about this seriously because I have to work. I decided to go to my oncologist to check on the status of my carcinoid and she suggested that I try Quinine water or tonic water.
I think she was not thinking about my atrial Fib and neither was I until I read this article; however, I am so happy because it is working. I will check with my cardiologist and may be get off of my sotalol if I must rather than stop taking a form of quinine. I will also check with my nephrologist and will stop taking it regularly if he tell me too.
I can lift my knee off the ground with out pain, I sleep better at night, and I almost feel I can play mild soccer again. To me, this is huge. Exercise was always important to me in dealing with stress.
In my case I could locate the muscle that was in spasm and was causing the pain and that muscle is getting much softer. In case taking quinine may come down to a quality verses quantity situation and I probably will never stop taking Quinine water or Tonic water completely, I am going to write to the carcinoid foundation patient group and see if any of them are experiencing muscle cramps and let them know of my results.
Thanks and I am looking forward to hearing from all of you.

PLEASE watch out for Neurontin. I took it for pain a few years ago, but I was also taking Morphine. The Neurontin dried my mouth out to the point I had to have four good teeth pulled. I am now having transplants put in ($2,000 per tooth).

I was a sprinter in high school and college and have always stayed in shape throughout my life. However, cramps, not in my legs but in my stomach, put an early end to hopes of participating in world-wide competition. As I aged and developed medical problems the cramps intensified. Not just in my legs but my stomach, rib cage and just about everywhere. After a CABGX4 and a battle with rhybdomyolosis (by the way caused by the statin drug Zocor which is still on the market), I was prescribed quinine for my cramps.
It worked and for 5-6 years I was almost cramp free without any of the negative symptoms supposedly caused by quinine. I know because I have a lipid and liver profile every 6 months and have a cardiovascular examination every 6-12 months.
Now that I am unable to buy quinine the severe cramping has returned. I have tried everything I have heard about – tonic water, calcium, potassium supplements, drinking plenty of liquids etc. (& I don’t count the 1 to 2 alcoholic beverages I have each week!). Hylands sublingual tablets gives some temporary relief but do not help for the real serious cramps.
I was in Panama last year and bought a 100 count bottle of 260mg capsules for $25.00 and had relief for about 3-4 months. If someone has any other ideas, please let me know. I do not like to order through the mail from an unknown source but will if I have to. Of course I could move to Panama but I am still working and plan to continue for a few more years until I am in my mid 70s if I can get control of the cramps!!!!

Keeping yourself hydrated may be half the battle with cramping of any kind. Tonic water works for me because I don’t usually get the proper amount of daily water intake. The normal amount of fluids per day is eight-8oz glasses and can be a combination of anything you drink, except of course, alcoholic drinks. The best is good ole H2O.

I am drinking a lot of orange juice and now I am have leg cramps. Is the juice causing this problem?

I am in UK and have recently been put on quinine sulphate and the tablet is 300mg. Surely that is much more than tonic water would be? I also have restless legs and the quinine does nothing for that so I am on naftidrofuryl oxalate for that. I think it was the statin that gives me the cramps so I am basically on three things to lower cholesterol. This cannot be right.

When stretching in bed (I do this kind of automatically upon waking) brings on a foot cramp or calf muscle cramp. I walk to the fridge without delay, take a couple of swigs of tonic water, keep walking around, and the spasm is gone in a few minutes and doesn’t come back. I have found that before bedtime, mixing 1/3 glass of tonic water with or without an optional mixer like ice tea or cranberry juice prevents cramps from occurring when one stretches in bed upon waking.

I have Muscular Dystrophy (Myotonia) and have been using quinine sulfate for 30 years which gave me the ability to walk. Without which I have a great deal of trouble walking and the muscle spasms are unbearable. So when the FDA decided it was too dangerous to take it, in effect was making my life a living hell.
Thank G-d I can still get it overseas. Much more expensive than I got it here. Which was -0- with my insurance. It is a very cheap drug to make.

Hi everyone. I can relate to what everyone is saying. I had the most horrific leg cramps with one torturous twist… My cramps would start in the calf, with severe pulling… sometimes it would take a minute for me to be able to pull my toes up toward me… then the most awful thing would happen… the shin muscle on the front of the leg would cramp!! there was NOTHING I could do to relieve myself from either cramp!
I finally realized that if I use something like the footboard or the wall to push my foot against then it prevents the front muscle from cramping… I also rub an IcyHot roller and deeply massage the muscle… but what has helped hands down THE most has been taking Natural Calm. It’s a readily absorbed magnesium supplement that comes in a powdered form. I also have noticed two other things… my cramping roughly coincides with certain times in my monthly cycle and if I drink too many carbonated beverages I am almost guaranteed a leg cramp.
If I feel any kind of twitching during the day I automatically take a dose of Natural Calm and if I still do have a leg cramp it is mild compared to the pulsating, gripping torture that they used to be!
Oh, and it’s nice to talk to people who obviously understand how awful these cramps are! It’s kind of like a support group lol. :)

Luckily mine are only occasional. I take a multivitamin, but that doesn’t seem to help much. Potassium is contraindicated in so many cases, you have to be very careful. Magnesium cannot be used by anyone with any previous kidney problems, some diuretics, and antibiotics. These can lead to dangerous retention/overdose of magnesium.
Dosage is important. The more the better isn’t a good idea. In defense of doctors, even seemingly harmless vitamins can be a problem depending on what other drugs you’re taking. Always consult with him or a pharmacist. If you are going to self medicate, do your homework!
Personally, in the middle of the night I’ll feel a dull ache in my thigh muscle that means a cramp is coming on. Also can happen in my feet and shins, but the inner and top of the thighs are the killers. At that point, stretching is the worst thing to do. If I can get to my feet w/o extending those muscles, getting a quick glass of milk works best to obviate it. Then S L O W L Y walking around and straightening up a little at a time.
No scientific evidence, but try not to get too dehydrated at night. If on a diuretic, take it in the morning. Whenever I get dry mouth, I keep a sports drink handy to hydrate and replace electrolytes. ESPECIALLY when sweating a lot in the summer. Since doing that, I’ve had far fewer incidences. I think stretching a bit before bed sounds worth a shot.
Sorry, ‘homeopathic’ by definition means it doesn’t do anything. As for the bars of soap under the sheet/socks….From Dr. Richard Van Dyke: I find it just as effective to “take the bars of soap, put them in a paper bag, run out on your front lawn, wave them over your head, and scream like a chicken!” You might want to try that.

90 people have died “over the years” from complications, and the FDA says quinine is too dangerous to sell over the counter… BUT anyone can buy as many bottles of aspirin or ibuprofen or tylenol as they can carry out of the drug store. Yet 10’s of thousands of people die every year from complications of these O-T-C drugs!! What’s wrong with this picture?

When you get’s a cramp in your leg turn your toes up toward your face and that will rid the pain. Also way back I guess it was restless legs, they hurt so I put my vibrating back thing, don’t know what to call it but put it on low and it vibrated my legs and I could sleep. For some reason I don’t get that restless leg problem but I do get leg cramps all the time and force my toes back and that worked. If not for that the pain would kill me.

How much did you take? The amounts in Hylands evidently are not banned, and are minuscule.

I get occasional leg and foot cramps. I take Hyland Leg Cramps. The tablets that you dissolve in the mouth have 0.005 mg of Quinine. That is 4000 times less then 8oz of tonic water. I wonder why tonic water was not banned, to many gin and tonic drinkers I guess.
Hylands works fast and it is homeopathic. It says not to take more then 3 tablets every 4 hours if needed. I take 2 tablets when I get a cramp I cannot get rid of by walking. Also stretching the foot and calf muscles does work also. So taking Hylands has so little quinine in it I am not worried about it. Taking a prescription of 300mg or more I am not sure about that sounds extreme since so little of Hylands does work.
I do not like taking medication and avoid it as much as possible. Also I do not trust the FDA. So saying the FDA has approved it or not does not mean much to me.
Remember the HRT drugs women took for years then were warned to get off them because of the cancer and heart side effects. My sister-in-law took them for 15 years. Women taking Osteo drugs should get off them now as they cause fractures not prevent them go to to read more about building bones naturally. And if you are on statins try a life style change. Eat better, lose weight and exercise.
My adult son did that he lost 45 pounds and he is off all the medications he was talked into taking. I only believe in medications for extreme cases when even extreme lifestyle changes do not work, but that is not the majority of us. Doctors push pills for a quick fix as opposed to getting to the cause and cure. Remember the Big Drug Companies want you on their medicine for the rest of your life that’s how they make their Billions and many of them have money set aside for major law suits in the future. What does that tell you. So look for the natural cures and even if you take natural homeopathics take the lowest dose as possible to get the relief you need. Later VS

When quinine was taken off the market I didn’t know what to do re RLS. A manager at a health food store told me that his wife used Butchers Broom herb so I tried it and have been using it ever since. When RLS starts I take 100 mg of the herb and usually condition is gone within an hour. Sometimes 2 capsules are needed but only occasionally. I’ve searched and can’t find any info on using this herb but it works for me and maybe it can help others with this annoying condition.

I have taken quinine for ten years because my entire body cramps it is really pitiful, I get my quinine thru Canada. It cost 51.00 for three months supply, I had to sign a release from my doctor that I would not sue him, for giving me a prescription.

I have suffered with leg cramps since my teenage years (now 51). Recently I mentioned it to my chiropractor & he told me to take magnesium. I had already added potassium to my regimen, but still got some cramps. Now the combination of magnesium & potassium works great! Magnesium is important for muscles. Since I take a multi-vitamin in the morning that has some, I take the additional pills in the evening.

I have had trouble sleeping for years and also have RLS when going to sleep. When I heard that RLS may interfere with sleep, I tried 8 oz. Tonic Water [diet] an hour before bed [after hearing about it on The People’s Pharmacy last week]. For three nights I have slept through the night and experienced no RLS.
Since there is a problem with quinine and even though Tonic Water must surely have a very low %, I plan to alternate with other suggestions read here.

I’ve been using quinine tabs purchased thru mail order from a Canadian pharmacy by fax (with a Dr.’s prescription) taking 300 mg (1 tablet each night) before bed time. The quinine stopped my leg cramps and pain immediately but I have noticed that I am uptight and extremely tense since I started taking it. I feel like my heart is coming thru my chest and beating irregularly and now the muscles in my thighs are so tense it is difficult to move my legs in walking.
The pain is gone but all these other symptoms are just as bad but not quite as bad as the leg pains which wake me from a deep sleep and I have to jump out of bed to relieve the pain and rub my legs or walk thru the house half the night. Does anyone else suffer these side effects?
Thank you.

I saw on Fox News, (the Dr. they have on there), to try tonic water, the same tonic used to make the drink “gin and tonic”, the tonic water actually has quinine in it. He said to drink tonic water mixed with cranberry juice. Sure enough I went to buy the tonic water, it says right on the bottle, contains quinine, and it works. You would have to drink a lot to get a bad dose of it. Worth a try.

I take 300mg quinine sulfate dly, but still get horrific leg cramps. From groin to ankle is the way it started. After a number of years advanced to ankle and feet then fingers and hands. When onset occurs I will take another 300mg cap. Then hylands sublinguil (under tongue) up to half a bottle. It takes a minimum of 40-60 minutes to let up. Recently have added another natural sublinguil and a 2nd hylands product.
A nutritionist told me to try calcium, magnesium, and potassium. I’ve been winging it, but does anyone know the maximum doses of these supplements?

I have occasional RLS. I took Legatrin (OTC) for quite a while. A few years ago, when I couldn’t find it, I asked the pharmacist about it. I was very surprised when he told me that now it needed a prescription.
This week I asked my physician for a new prescription for it. The last one was 3 years ago. I only take 1/4 of a 260 MG tablet and only when the RLS keeps me awake, to the bottle of 90 tablets lasted me 3 years.
For a while after I couldn’t find Legatrin, I used tonic water. It worked well enough, but it would wake me up a bit later for a bathroom call. That’s why I went the prescription quinine route.
The doctor’s office sent the prescription to my local Walmart pharmacy. They called me soon after, saying they couldn’t get it. It seemed to be a problem getting the strength of tablet the doctor prescribed, the same problem I’d had when I first got the prescription.
I called back to the doctor’s office and asked what tablet sizes were currently available. The answer was that the quinine had been taken off the market. This page gave me the rest of the story.
I take one other prescription for an antidepressant which doesn’t have a generic version available (in the US). I get it from a Canadian pharmacy instead. Many, many Canadian pharmacies have generic quinine sulfate in 200 and 300 mg. doses. I found it in versions made in Canada, in the UK, and in New Zealand, and all sold by the Canadian pharmacies. I get my prescription through the ‘American Drug Club’ which appears to be part of a Canadian pharmacy, based in Winnipeg. They have been very reliable and helpful for me.
I hope some of my experiences can help others with RLS.

Hi all! I was glad to find this site and to read all your comments! My mom has been trying to get me to try pickle juice, but I hate dill pickles. I may try it tomorrow if needed at work, then see if I have any side effects.
About potassium… remember that a banana contains natural potassium that is very healthful. I usually eat one small one a day.
One elderly lady I knew was told by a doctor she needed more potassium, and
to eat more bananas. I will look forward to more helpful comments. Thanks all for your advice and for reporting your experiences.

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