The People's Perspective on Medicine

How Does A Teaspoon of Mustard Cure Muscle Cramps?

A Nobel prize winning scientist has come up with an explanation for why mustard, pickle juice or hot chile peppers could ease muscle cramps.

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

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

Home Remedies Often Defy Logic:

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

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

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

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

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

An Explanation for Mustard vs. Cramps:

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

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

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

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

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

Strong Flavors and Relief from Muscle Cramps!

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

Lessons to be Learned From the Mustard Cure:

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

Here is another link you may find intriguing:

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Tablespoon of mustard is the only thing that relieves my horrible muscle cramping in my legs, I have tried everything I’ve heard of and mustards relieves the cramping within a minute or so. It is the worst pain I’ve ever experienced!

I have regular excruciating leg cramps after sitting on a chair or lying in bed for any lengthy period (and often when flying). Pain is generally in both legs simultaneously from groin to knees and often includes rear muscles on both legs from beneath my butt to knees. The pain leaves me totally immobilized.

I have learned to always have the fast food packets of yellow mustard by my bedside (within reach) or in my purse or pockets at all times. These packets are handy, no cost, and will relieve even the worst cramps within 2 to 5 minutes. I had two back surgeries and asked my surgeon about the use of yellow mustard, and he dismissed it and suggested I drink more fluids. I am healthy, active and do not need to take any medications. I am a believer in yellow packets of mustard and know they are a miracle for me, for whatever the cause of the debilitating leg cramps I experience regularly.

I tried it for thigh cramp and had instant relief.

I tried mustard for leg cramps for the first time while on vacation overseas. I had done A LOT more walking than usual and did not hydrate like I should have. As a result, by the evening, I developed the WORST cramp in my left leg. It was so bad, not only could you see the muscle tightening up, but my toes were trying to pull towards me. Tried walking it out and couldn’t put any pressure on it. My cousin tried to rub it out. Nothing. Finally, she gave me 2 tsp of yellow mustard, and within seconds the muscle relaxed, and I was able to walk on it with no pain. Found out they give mustard to the kids when they are playing basketball and get cramps. If I had not experienced it for myself, I never would have believed it.

My legs cramp so much at times, and it’s in my flexors from my hips down. Had it one night at my family gathering, and they said to take a huge teaspoon of mustard. Did so, and less than 10 mins later the cramp was gone!!! They started again in the morning and did mustard again – gone for the day!!!

Have a friend with restless legs so if anyone has suggestions that work please respond!

I have suffered for many years with excruciating leg cramps. The symptoms for me seem to occur after being extremely exhausted/fatigued! After so many years of painful leg cramps, a friend told me to try the yellow mustard! I had never heard of this. Plus, I was skeptical. But believe me when I say, “The yellow mustard works!” Such relief!👍🏾😀

Tonic water also helps leg cramps. I just had the worst cramps in both of my legs. I didnt have tonic water. Went for the yellow mustard. I couldn’t believe how fast it went to work. I’m afraid to go back to bed for fear they will start again.

I have been using Lemongrass for various cramps. Husband doesn’t like the smell but it certainly gets rid of them. I may give mustard a try. Don’t think mustard could help with an atrophy cramp pulling the big toe inward causing a tendon to rise. Do have this occurring, and lemongrass does the trick to fix.

I am home sick with a virus which has caused a day of diarrhea thus dehydration and leg/ ankle cramps. I live alone so I decided to try taking a bit of Dijon mustard (did not have yellow)
Within minutes all my cramps were gone!!
I am a believer ❤️

I heard about this today from my cosmetologist. He got a cramp in his hand and to make it stop he swallowed a tablespoon of French’s mustard. I often have leg cramps so I’m gonna try mustard next time. Thanks for the science behind why it may work.

Why haven’t I known about this my whole life? I have suffered from minor to major cramping for years. I’m very athletic and a construction worker so dehydration is always a issue. If you feel thirsty you are already in trouble. My symptoms often start after eating lunch. Our jobs are strenuous and at times cramping can be dangerous. Talked with doctors but they would just suggest eating a banana. Useless.

Now if I can find a remedy for tinnitus.

I was struck by what I thought to be my last minutes on earth by the worse leg and thigh cramps possible. It was so bad I was screaming and crying; believe me when I say I don’t react to pain that way normally. Seconds later I remembered a friend had said something a few month back about mustard. I’m not a big fan of mustard, but I tried it anyway. It was like a miracle from heaven had happened. As soon as the mustard and my saliva mixed the cramps were immediately gone. I’m a believer.

One night while attending our granddaughter’s volleyball game, I noticed that when the opposing team left the floor, they went to a woman on the side lines with a bowl of dill pickles. Each player received a dill pickle and paper towel. Our son told us it was to prevent cramps. I have suffered excruciating night-time cramps so bad I have actually begged to die. I was prescribed statins against my wishes, and these cramps started several months later. Finally after being switched from one statin to another, my physician agreed that I should stop. The cramps have continued. After seeing the dill pickle incident, I started eating half a dill pickle every night. It has now been a little over one month, and I no longer experience the cramps!

I took the advice of a hardcore cyclist before a 53 mile bike race to the top of West Virginia’s tallest peak Spruce Knob. The mustard packets worked like a charm. I typically would get horrible leg cramps after about 3 hours on the bike, the mustard packets actually worked. I’ll never ride without a few in my pocket.

I had a terrible leg cramp in my thigh. I have gotten muscle cramps in my legs for years. I tried yellow mustard today about 1 tsp and drank some water. Gone in about 2 minutes. Good bye commercial leg cramp pills. They didn’t work this fast.

I have been using mustard for muscle cramping for several years after hearing about it on the local NPR’s People’s Pharmacy hour. I run 3 to 6 miles every Saturday morning, and the cramping comes in the afternoon or that night. As I get older (just passed 70) the cramping has increased. Sports drinks do not work.

I started keeping packets of mustard everywhere, but one warning. Recently, while at work, one of the packets, when opened, was a little hard, but I downed it anyway, and ended up with a stomach ache for 5 hours. I now only use mustard from the container that stays refrigerator.

Severe leg cramps often wake me from a sound sleep, especially on days when I have worked out at the gym. Several years ago I found that quinine water (tonic water) works almost instantly to stop the cramps, so I keep a short bottle of it next to my bed and drink 1/2 a bottle when needed. Tonight I woke with cramps, but was out of quinine water, so hobbled to the fridge and downed a teaspoon of yellow mustard. While not as pleasant to consume alone as it is on a hotdog, it did work to take the cramps away, nearly as quickly as the quinine.

Yellow mustard is only thing that stops the horrible cramps I get in my legs and worst of all upper thigh. I think it would be beneficial for the elderly to be made aware of this mustard remedy as cramps can be very bad for them. Wonder about mustard as emergency help for heart pain which is a muscle also.

Mustard (with turmeric works) for me. I have suffered from night leg cramps for many years. In the past, eventually they’d go away only to come back an hour later, and repeat through the night. After eating mustard, the cramps subside within a few minutes, and they do not come back the rest of the night. That is proof for me that it really works. When I was out of mustard, I got cramps and suffered on and off through the night as they’d ebb and flow. Now I have a spare bottle in the cupboard. However, I must say that it is very difficult for me to swallow the mustard as I have developed an aversion to eating it that way. However, since the pain is so intense, I make it happen, and holding my nose as I swallow helps!

I have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and leg cramps are common. Tonic water has always worked almost instantly for me, as well as yellow mustard. I’ve tried over-the-counter “leg cramps” pills with no success. As for hiccups, what helps me is drinking “hot” coffee. I feel as if my throat muscles relaxe after I swallow a few good-sized sips.

I have had success with Natural Calm Magnesium Powder. It does work almost instantly for me. However, as of late for the last 6 weeks or so, my leg cramps have changed. when I awaken during the night and stretch, the stretching triggers muscle spasms more in my feet, tops/front of my leg below my knees, and severe thigh spasm. All new and terrible experiences. Time for a blood panel test for me anyway. I need to find out if diabetic neuropathy is a possibility. i welcome any conversation about this.

My late husband was prescribed a lot of meds with lots of side effects. Occasionally, his hands would go into cramps. Half a spoonful of commercial yellow mustard would stop the hand contractions in less than 30 seconds.

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

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

I’m wondering if the epidurals fit back pain could have led to the severe leg cramps I’m currently experiencing

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

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

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

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

Would this work for menstrual cramping?

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

Just had our high school tennis team up to Traverse City in upper Michigan this weekend for a tournament. Very hot, over 90. I handed out mustard packs to the guys and one of them had to use it during a match and the cramping stopped almost immediately. Our #1 singles player swore by it last year. Nice to know some of the science behind it. I’m a believer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will this work for arthritis?????

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

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

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

Drinking upside down works the best for me. An alternate to drinking upside down is taking a big mouthful of liquid holding it in your mouth, then touch your chin to your chest. While your head remains bent down swallow your liquid. It has never failed me or my family.

I also suffer from cramping. I have tried mustard, to my amazement it worked almost instantly. If you cramp from statins, stop taking them. It is one of their more serious side effect. I knew a lady who swore they made her lose the ability to walk. There are other med for cholesterol and triglycerides that work and are not in the stating family.

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

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

When I get leg cramps I have always put my thumbs behind my top front teeth and pushed/ pulled out. Cramps melt right away. Crazy but it has always worked for me.

totally impressed by those who have used yellow mustard. I depend on adding 250 mg of magnesium to my calcium [1000 tum]. I do not have a thyroid or parathyroids. will try mustard as I get some severe leg spasms occaisionally.

I have been having legs cramps, perhaps because I am diabetic type 2, I started using magnesium 500 mg at night, it works, but not to the extent I was expecting, then I start using diet tonic water, and works perfect, but researching I found out that the quinine content in the water has some side effect with serious consequences, but researching, (as I always do) I encounter that the yellow mustard have similar effect to eliminate legs cramp, considering that the mustard is a natural product, will not have any side effect I will try it and let you know. Michael, Miami Fla.

I get leg cramps at night, but if I take two teaspoons of mustard before bed, I don’t get leg cramps. If I forget to take the mustard and get a cramp in my leg, I take two teaspoons of yellow mustard and within seconds the cramps are gone.

That’s interesting.
I always wondered why pickles or pickle juice or mustard would stop a cramp but not PREVENT cramps. Now I know!!

I am amused at people finding it yucky and difficult to take a spoonful of mustard. They ought to try castor oil as a remedy for other things. THAT would convince me I wasn’t sick enough to stay home from school . BTW, yellow mustard works great for me. I keep a container at my bedside.

I’ve been doing it for years. Drug companies and doctors make no money on that solution… Also I was told that the Roman Legions would put vinegar into their drinking water..ostensibly to avoid cramps. So .OK you snowflakes.. Man Up !

brown Guldens mustard doesn’t work????

Totally works. Half a mustard packet or two small swallows of pickle juice stops the muscle cramps RIGHT NOW.

My fingers tingle when I am low on calcium. I take a Tum 500 mg for relief within a minute. Pickle juice has been my salvation for 50 years when it comes to leg cramps. Oil field workers are issued cans of pickle juice for the electrolytes.

Can you use bread and butter pickle juice or does it have to be dill?

Will the mustard/pickle juice work for lasting nerve pain which resulted from shingles?

some people had good results applying original yellow Listerine to
the painful areas.

After 7 years of ocean cruising I started getting muscle cramps in my legs, presumably from the periods of non-availability of fresh food. My research suggested magnesium deficiency so whilst ashore in Australia, I started supplementing with magnesium and pretty soon the cramping stopped. Amazingly so did my almost daily dose of heartburn. That was seven years ago and I still take magnesium glycinate 500 mg. daily.

Most people are apparently, deficient in this mineral, which is implicated in more than 300 processes in the body. If you need to take a remedy for cramps or heartburn maybe you are one of them.

No #7 iodine applied once daily will rid you of shingles. Apply for 30 days even if it seems the shingles have gone.

I try to be as active as possible at age 86. After a day mowing grass, raking leaves, climbing ladders to clean gutters etc I would have terrible leg cramps at night. I started taking mustard and/or vinegar prior to retiring and the results were amazing. I would like to find out what I might do to eliminate numbness and tingling in my arms and hands.

Acupuncture or a good Chiropractor who does NOT just crack routinely
all parts, but frees up and manipulates muscles and bones.

I, too, have developed terrible leg & foot cramps that wake me at night. I’m 63. My physician suggested the tsp. of mustard. Tried it & the cramps just…STOP, quickly! I’m grateful & amazed…and I love mustard, so no problem with taste! However, the soap trick never worked for me.

When I first heard of using mustard or pickle juice for cramps, I wasn’t sure if that was a preventative or a remedy. Now, I see that it’s taken as a remedy. Why wait until you’re awakened in the middle of the night with cramps so bad that it’s very difficult just to get out of bed. I’ve taken to having a dill pickle and a teaspoon or so of juice at bedtime as a preventative. So far, it has been working.

I’ve been using the soap remedy for years…but lately it wasn’t working as well. So I decided to try the mustard thing. Now, the idea of a mouthful of nasty mustard in my mouth in the middle of the night sounded yucky…BUT…I just happened to have a bottle of honey mustard in the fridge. And guess what? It tasted good, and it worked!! Yum!! A tasty way to beat those darn cramps.

I have also used mustard for night cramps & it stops them IMMEDIATELY!!! I didn’t have yellow mustard..but Grey Poupon worked just as well. :)

I wonder if simply smelling these remedies—Vicks, yellow Mustard, pickle juice (vinegar), soap*—would work to stimulate the nerves in the mouth/throat and thus override the erratic firing of nerves in the extremeties—rather than having to ingest the products, spread them on the skin, or sleep with them? Surely all of these products have very strong stimulating odors. Maybe a little aroma therapy approach? *(I don’t know if a particular type of fragrances in the soap is recommended.)

How do I use cider vinegar to help control GERD? I know you have recommended this.

Hyland Leg Cramp tablets that you melt under your tongue have worked wonders for me. I have tried all the remedies mentioned in the comments however it wasn’t until I tried the little sublingual tablets that I got relief from nighttime leg and feet cramps.

I have tried Hyland also but it takes 6 tabs to work and it takes longer to stop the cramps than the mustard. I thought that 7up soda might help because of the fizzy and tartness so I drank a whole small bottle and I didn’t have cramps all night. I think it’s the tartness in the mouth that works

I keep a ten oz water bottle in my refrigerator with 2-3 tablespoons of ACV added. I sip all day long on this and it keeps my stomach balanced. ACV is a healthy home remedy for me.

I have a dear friend who is suffering from leg cramps daily, I will have her try the mustard or the dill pickle juice. Tonic water does not work for her, however; it does for me. Thank you for the wonderful suggestions. I will suggest your site to all my alternative med friends.

I believe it may be the vinegar in the mustard. Everyday I mix 1/4 cup raw-unfiltered vinegar with the “Mother” in it , 1Tbs. raw honey in a 16oz. glass of water and drink it during the day. It may help regulate pH balance in the body. I have Gerd and it works great. Vinegar is wonderful for a lot of conditions!

I haven’t tried the mustard but I do use soap under the sheets in my bed. It does not seem to work for everyone but it does work for me. If you do get a leg cramp, rub dry soap on the cramp, gone in 30 seconds. I use two motel bars of soap under my sheets. Takes about a week to get used to the lumps.

It is probably the vinegar used for pickling that gets results from pickle juice.

Dr. Mercola (a big “web MD”) just last week had a big article on the mysterious factors behind leg cramps, which he referred to as charlie horses. The takeaway was that this was a kind of complex problem that didn’t have many reliable treatments, and the ones that did exist sounded like medical treatments that a doctor had to perform. Not one mention about pickle juice, mustard, tonic water, soap under the sheets… nothing!

Boy, did I write in, telling people to just go right over to Peoples Pharmacy and they could get all the info they needed about dealing with charlie horses!

It felt pretty good.

>just because a remedy may seem strange does not mean it should be rejected. The research of Drs. MacKinnon and Bean offers a novel explanation

That’s why they have a Nobel and the rest of us don’t….

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!

please read

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.

Regardless of the experts and the research, mustard works for me. I woke up last night to a cramp in my left calf, and while trying to ease it I developed a more severe cramp in my right ankle. I hobbled to the kitchen for a tablespoon of mustard which I usually chase down immediately with water so I don’t taste it. For some reason I didn’t get to the water right away and could actually feel the mustard reacting with my tongue – not quite numbing, but doing something- while at the same time the cramps abated and were gone within seconds. Maybe the scientists are on to something with the nerve-action theory.

Stimulating one set of nerves to squelch bogus messages from another set? I’m a believer.

My late wife had debilitating ankle pains for over a year. She was even willing to undergo surgery. Orthopedists couldn’t find anything wrong. Out of desperation we sought yet another referral and were referred to a rehab specialist. He prescribed acupuncture and gave an immediate treatment.

The unrelenting pain stopped in a few minutes. The relief lasted 48 hours. On the return visit he explained that each successive treatment would last longer. And that’s how it worked. Four days, then six, then twelve, until after maybe ten visits there was no recurrence.

And because he was an MD, the treatments were covered by our insurance.

I 100% support the theory that bogus nerve impulses can be overcome by stimuli on another nerve set.

I’m happy to accept this theory. But how? Do you eat it or rub it on your leg? I must admit I shouldn’t fancy a teaspoonful of English mustard!

Glenys Goodwill
Durham, UK

A teaspoon by mouth. My daughter has spoons about the size of baby spoons. I use them. The most I have had to take is 2 of them.

I realize this isn’t a solution for everyone, but recently I started an exercise routine that includes dynamic stretching as the warmup and slow stretching as the cool down. There are some very good leg stretches in both. If I’m allowed to provide a resource (I have no affiliation whatsoever), I watched some YouTube videos by HASfit.

Much to my surprise this has all but eliminated my leg and foot cramps, which I was having almost nightly for over a year. I’ve tried lots of things, but I couldn’t stand the taste of mustard and I didn’t want to drink tonic water every night. Just standing got rid of them, but who wants to hop out of bed at 2:00 a.m. on a regular basis!

Now, if I do get a cramp, it’s so minor, all I have to do is relax and it’s gone in seconds. I do the exercises 2-3 times a week, with a day off in between.

I’m also doing a 15 minute dumbbell workout with the stretching. I can’t believe how much stronger I’ve gotten. I started with two 5 lbs., then 8, 10, and now I’m at 12. Sorry, just had to add that because I’m so happy with the results! :-)

Thank you, Anne, for your interesting comments. I have eliminated my leg cramps (soap did not work for me) by stretching before I go to bed. If I’m awake and have a muscle cramp, mustard definitely works and eliminates the cramp within 1/2 minute.

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