The People's Perspective on Medicine

How Safe Is Tonic Water?


Q. I have been drinking a liter or two of tonic water a week for nearly 25 years. Now I’m reading about risks associated with quinine. How much is too much? How much quinine is in tonic? What are the side effects? Should I stop drinking tonic water?

A. Quinine has been used medicinally to ward off malaria since the 17th century. The normal dose to treat malaria is 648 mg every eight hours for a week. A glass of tonic has roughly 20 mg, so you can see that there is a big difference in dose.

Some people are so susceptible to serious side effects from quinine that they must avoid even the small amount in tonic water. For them, quinine may cause life-threatening heart rhythm disturbances, severe skin reactions and several blood-related complications. That is why the FDA banned quinine for treating leg cramps.

Since you have not experienced any complications for 25 years, it is unlikely that you need to give up tonic. A glass or two daily should not cause you problems.

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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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I have contracted calves, a legacy of a stroke 22 years ago. This makes my calves permanently tired. So, do you think tonic water might help this?

I’ve been getting bad leg and foot cramps. It was suggested to take a glass if tonic water. It worked great…for the first 2 nights…now the cramps are back…WORSE….In addition I get weird feelings in my arms and back muscles…also near my breastbone…I’ll just stop the tonic water, continue with the pain and cry a lot…it’s better than dealing with something worse than cramps…

A lot of people on this list talk of leg cramps–yet they don’t mention whether they’re taking statins (to lower cholesterol). Statins sometimes cause serious, debilitating leg cramping and inflammation. I had symptoms of this for a while after switching to a new statin. It happened that I knew someone who is now using a walker (not an old person!) because of the statin side effects. Anyway, I switched drugs, and the leg cramps went away. Had to be quite assertive about this with my MD, though. I do occasionally drink tonic water, but haven’t seen any effect on leg cramps or my tinnitis.

PICKLE JUICE…….. The coach always had a jar of it at practice (football) ..and when any of us “cramped up” a few swigs of it and a little while later …. Bingo!
I only used it once but it was effective…….
What else to do when all the pickles are gone!

I know the feeling, was taking quinine caps. for my cramps but they stoped making them. So now I take salt in my hand about 3 or 4 good shakes with three good swigs of quinine, bingo, cramps gone…………………………ps quinine in tonic mixer, good luck, ted

Hya, I’ve been using Tonic Water for some time now, but after reading about these side effects, I’m not so sure about taking it now, I had Tinnitus before I Started taking Tonic Water, I’ve actually had it for years, but it has been a bit more noisier lately, and I have been feeling very tired all the time, so I just wonder if there’s any connection, with taking Tonic Water. Surely there must be something they can subscribe without any side effects, can anybody help please?

I can’t tell you all how many people I have helped rid leg cramps!

It’s electrolytes!!! Potassium number one! Magnesium to make the potassium work, and sodium.

Try this, have some potassium pills beside your bed, when the Charlie horse hits, take it. If in less than ten minutes the pain is gone? You know you are on the right track.

It is very tricky to get your hydration correct, but it’s not just about water. It’s about balance! Your body is trying its damnedest to find a balance, if you take too much sodium, the kidneys say dump, dump ,dump, and when that happens you lose potassium too.

You must also provide sodium, and lots of water!!! What’s crazy about all of it is that calcium is telling your muscles what to do.

Anyway this is just what has worked for me, I’m a 60 year old brick mason still keeping up with the young kids!!!

Magnesium! Magnesium! Magnesium – tablet! Eat a banana or orange for the potassium, if you like. If you don’t get relief from magnesium and a banana or orange, go to the doctor and find out if your potassium is low (blood test), and the doctor will prescribe what you need.
You don’t want to get too much potassium, either -too much is almost as harmful as too little. If you get too much magnesium you might get diarrhea. My husband always gets relief from muscle cramps with magnesium tablets. He just doesn’t eat the “green-leafies” or the right nuts (cashews, almonds and walnuts) to get enough magnesium.

I don’t understand the FDA’s position on quinine. Many substances can be devastating to certain people (ex.: sugar, peanuts, etc.) but they are are not banned outright. A quinine sulfate capsule can get a person out of a real jam if this cramping attack occurs in the car and you find yourself in such awful shape that you can’t even move well enough to get out of the car in a reasonable amount of time, let alone continue to drive.
If this was happening to me all the time, I would hesitate to continue driving; but, for a once or twice a month event, I just can’t see not taking something that’s not affecting me negatively.

Very interesting post. Certainly the first time I have read that. Could you please tell me where you got that information? Thanks, Bonnie

This is very interesting. I too, suffer from unbarable leg, foot, calf, hamstring, toe, and arch cramps, mostly at night, but often if I’m on my feet, standing all day. It’s interesting too, that so many of us describe the speed at which we have to get up and put weight on it, before it gets too tight to straighten. It’s debilitating and I literally have to sob with the pain if I don’t catch it in time. I’ve also noticed that it can come in waves. It gets so tight I am crying out, then it almost goes away, but no. . . it’s back with a vengence. It’s exhausting and the next day soreness is a sad reminder of a painful, sleepless night.
I have been taking quinine for this condition for several years, at about 8 to 16 oz/day. It has dramatically improved the cramping problem, with almost no cramping at all, and certainly no crying, sobbing, crippling episodes. Now, I’m torn. I do not want to go back to the cramping, but my blood pressure is higher than we’d like, and I have noticed changes in my vision and hearing. I’m afraid to stop all together, so I think I’ll try to reduce the dosage and see if there’s improvement in the negative symptoms, but no loss in the cramp-free area, either. Thank you for the info and a place to share my experience.

Quinine is the only substance that will get rid of my leg cramps. I’m talking excruciating pain from the groin down to the feet that can last for hours. If I start to get a cramp, sometimes all it takes are some extra minerals, sometimes a homeopathic, sometimes a glass of tonic water. But, if it takes the “big guns,” I’ve got a prescription for quinine sulfate 324 mg caps. Don’t need to go that far very often, but I’m glad I have a doctor who is reasonable.
My doctor watched me closely to see that there would be none of the serious complications some people get.
For the FDA to make broad generalizations like they have is petty and suspicious. And as far as studies are concerned, that’s not going to happen. There’s no big money to be made off equine. And for them to just state rather cavalierly that equine is ineffective, is just a big lie.

I will try the tonic, just to see what’s so affecting about the taste, but wanted to add that, in my case, leg-cramping always seems to be a result of not having drunk a glass of milk for a while, and drinking one at the onset invariably relieves it.

I’ve had episodes of night cramps in my legs since I was in my 20s, not often, but occasionally. I’m 67 now. In the past several months, I started having severe cramps in my calves, that would wake me 2 or 3 times every night. I read that quinine would help – started taking quinine tonic water – a small glass or two, 6 to 12 oz. – before going to bed. Cramps stopped!
I’ve got severe osteoarthritis in my hip, but that seems completely unaffected by the quinine. I know that quinine in large doses can cause tinnitis – I had a roommate, 35 years ago, who got addicted to Schweppes Bitter Lime soda, was drinking a quart or two (or more) a day, finally got severe tinnitis from that dosage level; it took several months of no quinine for his hearing to normalize. Sticking to a glassful each evening shouldn’t cause a problem, unless you have an acute sensitivity.

Well now, this is just my luck. I am a devout Coke Zero drinker, and the only reason I bought the bottle of tonic water, was to see if it actually glowed in the dark, as I had read.
For the heck of it yesterday, I took a swallow of it before throwing it away, because I was sure I was going to hate it, but wanted to see what it tasted like anyway.
Lo and behold, I loved it! Unfortunately, I’m already being treated for A Fib and reading comments of how it may cause heart arrhythmias, nearly broke my heart! That is one thing I don’t need for sure, is help in that area!
Now I’m going to miss my new found drink. :(

After an auto accident has left me in severe pain over the last 3+ yrs, I was taking (daily) Oxycodone, Soma, and for acid reflux, an OTC acid reducer, and Crestor for high cholesterol. Suddenly, I began to get SEVERE nighttime leg cramps, which later became cramps in every body part that has a muscle… meaning, I had cramps everywhere.
When I called my physician, he discontinued the Crestor, and prescribed Livalo, and also advised me to try drinking tonic water. The tonic water worked like a charm.
Now, suddenly, I’m losing my hair like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I’m a retired hair stylist, so I’m confident in mt ability to recognize my hair loss as unhealthy. My research on the drugs I take, both prescribed and OTC, has shown that some can cause hair loss as a rare, but possible side affect. I then stopped these drugs immediately. I DID NOT stop the tonic water, however.
My hair loss is not as bad, but, still unhealthy. Tonight, in my never ending quest to get to the bottom of the cause my my hair loss, it dawned upon me that the new addition to my previously benign drug intake, was the tonic water. Is it possible, that the tonic is the culprit?

My doctor recommended a small glass before bed for restless leg syndrome. Last night was the first night I tried it. I slept all night for the first time in a long while. Seems to work.

I want to know if a child of 13 years can consume tonic water or not? Having it once in a blue moon for a child is ok?

My doctor told me to drink tonic water with quinine for possible low potassium due to restless legs and dizyness. She said to drink it all day. The next morning my blood pressure was 230//99, horrific headache, slurred speech (lasted 1 day), hearing and eyesight diminished. Is any of this reversible? It has been 3 weeks now.

I am 60 years old male and 2 years ago I was diagnosed with Arrythmia which was treated by Cardio-Version (sorry if spelled incorrectly). I am now taking 1 Flecanide tablets/day to manage my condition. I have always liked tonic water but have recently started to drink a glass per day (about 3/4 pint).
I have started to get a strange jittery sensation under my breast bone and wondered if this might have been brought on by tonic water. I have stopped drinking it now and was oblivious to its ill effects. Is it possible that I may have caused my Arrythmia to return and should I go and get checked out to see if my heart rate is irregular?
Your advice will be greatly appreciated.
Kind regards AJP

I have had Charley Horse (cramps) in my legs where the calf muscle rides high on the leg and I need to get up and either massage it down with my hands or walk around till it goes back down. This has been going on for years. Just last week, one of the devotees at my temple told me that she takes tonic water with quinine for her leg cramps.
I tried it and it seems to work. However, after reading all these posts at this site, I hesitate because I have had a heart attack, I have had a kidney removed (so only one kidney at present) and I have diabetes and borderline hypertension (high blood pressure.) I do not know if the quinine will aggravate any of these. Please advise.

I have had severe leg cramps and no sleep at night and I was told by a coworker to try diet tonic water for the cramps. Believe me, I have tried it all.
The tonic water works the best and I am now able to sleep at night with no leg cramps. What works for some may not work for others. I also have arthritis and tonic water is the only thing that has helped with the pain.

I still don’t know what quinine is.

I’ve recently had more leg cramps than usual and an extremely painful and long lasting upper thigh cramp, I had back and pelvic xrays and that’s not the problem. I was told that I had bad leg circulation and to take 1/2 a glass of tonic water before going to sleep. Do you think that’s safe, since I do have some eye issues?

Through out the years I’ve read & heard that there maybe a connection with Muscle Cramps & Low Iron. Low iron is also connected to hair loss & hair breakage (about 2″ from the roots). Most Doctors test for “B12” in your Blood when testing for Anemia but you really need to have your “Ferritin” levels checked.
You should not take iron pills unless you have confirmed Iron Deficient Anemia – high Iron levels are linked to Heart Disease & more recently Alzheimer’s Disease. If your Doctor does prescribe Iron pills… dissolve 1 pill in a glass of water and drink half twice a day… it is easier on your stomach (although it tastes horrible).
P.S. I am 62 yrs. old & I’ve had Anemia on & off through out my life and this info. is based on my life experience…. Cheers & good luck!!

My dad drinks about five liters of tonic water a week and almost died last month..complete renal failure ..bone marrow severely depleted low platelets and suddenly went blind everything got better with several transfusions except the since I am doing his grocery shopping now I picked up his tonic water and noticed it contained quinine..drs still don’t know why this happened to him but now I am thinking he is allergic to quinine..they say the blindness is can we know if it is the quinine?

Hi Diane, I started reading postings on this site as my wife heard that quinine might help my RLS. I also have been experiencing low blood iron for about the same length of time. I’ll try the iron and calcium supplements and report back. Reading the quinine side effects is a little scary.

Does drinking tonic water effect liver levels at all?
Thank you,

My doctor suggested tonic water before bed as a remedy for leg/foot/toe cramps. I’ve been following this routine for a couple of months with great success. However, I’m now suffering from severe hair loss, something I’ve only experienced once before, three months after a severe illness that required a week’s hospitalization. Any way the quinine could be causing this?

Hi all, I started suffering with kidney problems about 20 years ago and have always drunk tonic Water not realising these side effects. I haven’t actually drunk it for about 6-7years and in that time haven’t had any kidney problems its only this week that I’ve had an infection and linked the 2 together.
I changed from coke to tonic about 3 weeks ago thinking it would be better for me, have had horrendous kidney pains, breathlessness and a migraine all this week. Only today have I linked the tonic water and when I googled was amazed that this could cause me a week of hell, I only drink about 5 a week and it’s had this effect on me. Certainly won’t be drinking it again.

To the unfortunate people who are having problems with restless leg syndrome, I am here to tell you that I suffered that for many years. I ran across an article that said if you are suffering with this condition, you may have even slightly low iron levels. I started taking iron, along with vitamin c to help with absorption, and within a few days, quit having problems. Every time I start to get symptoms of RLS, I realize I haven’t been taking my iron supplements and when I start taking them again, the symptoms go away. Just a thought and something that sufferers out there might want to look into.

White Rock brand tonic water does contain quinine for anyone who is looking for it. Just a tablespoon or so has ELIMINATED my leg cramps. I’m going on 72 years YOUNG, but my legs are old , so I had incredibly tight cramps that would force me to get out of bed STAT and stand on a cold surface. Since starting with the tonic water…not a single cramp!
Some folks won’t buy certain perfectly safe products because the FDA did not approve them. Well, heck, the FDA approves of TOXIC materials! I try not to buy any prescription med until it has been out for 3 to 5 years. The FDA approves of drugs that they later find to have caused some serious “side effects.”
A neurologist mistakenly thought that because I had had grand mal seizures following a massive hemorrhagic CVA (stroke) I had to stay on it for the rest of my life. Despite my informing him that I was beginning to have tardive dyskinesia because of the drug I was being FORCED to stay on–else he would have my driver’s license yanked by the state–he had never bothered to read the second page of the drug information. Thanks to his ignorance, I now have polyneuropathy in both feet and spasmodic dysphonia and paroxysmal kinesigenic choreoathetosis (PKC). The drug is, of course, approved by the FDA. After recovering for a year, I ceased having seizures and have not had one for the past fifteen years.
Phenytoin is not as “safe” as it is said to be. The brand name is Dilantin. Although it does work, I still had break through seizures, albeit less intense, but still grand mal. The nurses I had ASSUMED that I had had grand mal seizures all my life. When I asked what the capsule was they said, “That’s your Dilantin, of course.” They were surprised that I asked what it was for. At first they assumed I was a moron until I demanded that they call me doctor instead of Mrs. I’d never had a grand mal seizure in my life! Oh well, now I have to use Fentanyl patches to control the agony of polyneuropathy; without the pain patches, I cannot walk or even move my toes.

After seeing a nutritionist, I learned that sugar causes inflammation (arthritis). After going completely off sugar, and then trying it again, I did notice whenever I had a fair amount of sugar, my hip pain started again.

Instead of drinking a whole bottle, I take a standard measured tablespoon. Only recently had I begun to have incredibly strong foot and leg cramps when I heard about taking a small amount of tonic water prior to going to sleep. It worked! A woman at a meeting of people who have peripheral neuropathy; I’ve polyneuropathy in both feet, and the only palliative that works for me is Fentanyl pain patches. Finding tonic water has been akin to a minor miracle.
I estimate that my “dose” is less than 0.5 gram per day; I’m not at all concerned about having difficulties with that amount of quinine.

Wow, it really worked!! I just got my first good nights sleep after drinking a small bottle of tonic water. I feel so good this morning, no stiffness. Hope tonight is a repeat.Thanks soooooo much.

Do you think quinine has any impact on warding off west Nile virus mosquito’s?
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: It isn’t reliable enough to count on.

I have had severe reactions to tonic water. Are there any other things you should avoid that might cause a reaction?

When I was growing up I can always remember my mum saying (for the purpose of allergies, operations etc) that she could never take quinine. and the doctors would note this. Unfortunately I am unable to ask what the effects were, but I remember a couple of years ago after being out socializing and drinking, coming home with the most severe chest and upper back pain. I thought it was a heart attack, but then scaled it down to severe heartburn, but so painful I was thinking of going to hospital. I had been drinking tonic water mixed with alcohol.
Now my 25yo daughter is complaining of similar pain in the chest with added stomach pains etc, during the day (while at work). Is quinine present in any other food or drink? Can it be used as a preservative ? hope you have some answers.
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: The main place you’ll find quinine is tonic water. We don’t know if Australia permits quinine to be sold for leg cramps; it is not permitted in the US. It is probably available in some medicines for malaria, since some of the country is tropical. We suggest you ask before taking any medicine so that you don’t take it inadvertently.

I drank some tonic water last night just a small glass. I noticed later that night I got real dizzy and felt funny. Was this a side effect?

I have what the neurologist call carpal pedal spasms. May wake me up 2 to 3 times an hour some nights. Usually more toward morning hours from 4:00 on. Extremely painful, with me having to get up and walk. One doctor put me on Klonopin, which I take 3 or 4 times a week. Seems to help some. I would like to know how it works, and if tonic water would work for this as well.

I have arthritis and recently flared up really badly – have been prescribed Maxitram 50mg whilst it takes the edge off the pain I do feel slightly sleepy. Have read that apple cider vinegar taken daily or black cherry juice helps is there anything else you can recommend?
Thank you.

I have ITP and just started to drink tonic water. Is it really a fact that I should not drink it at all because of the quinine?

I just wanted to know tonic water will help with back spasm. I have the spasmed that will make you cry. The first time was yesterday and I could not sit down and when I got up it was very painful. My husband went to the store and bought me some tonic water. I took a few swallows and was able to get to sleep. I just wanted to know if I was tripping or does the water really work?

I work 12 hours 4 days a week and my legs sometimes my feet would get cramps. The ones that will make you cry!! I started drinking Mixer tonic water with quinne. This stuff works now I just get 1 cramp maybe 1 time a week. I was in pure hell thanks to this stuff I can sleep and go to work and feel good. Big Shep

I drink tonic water that has quinine, I drink about a 1 qt 1.8 fl oz a day. What problems am I looking at down the road with my health?

If you are concerned about drinking tonic water for leg, foot or toe cramps try a nice size spoonful of mustard. I just read about this somewhere on the net and it is a miracle… it works almost instantly, also apple cider vinegar helps but I really think the mustard is the fastest and best. I now take the little mustard bags with me even when I travel, keep them by the bed. Good luck for sweet not cramping dreams!!

I’ve suffered from RLS for almost 20 years. For approximately 8 years now I’ve been taking a prescription drug called Mirapex – used for a variety of issues. The dose has needed to be increased over the years but it works wonderfully so long as I take it on schedule. It seems to take 2-3 hours to work into my system.

I work in a hotel and have never been one of the drinking crew, always have a glass of bare tonic. Usually through the week days average about one rather large glass each day.
My reason for the post is that six weeks ago I underwent spinal fusion and have been on OxyContin ( a slow release morphine ). I had my first night out last night, a whole two hours upright which was a big deal for me. Anyway I Googled alcohol and morphine and obviously it was not worth risking even one glass of alcohol with all of the possible side effects, so I just drank two glasses of tonic. But within half an hour of getting home I had really severe scary stomach cramps that abated after a few visits to the bathroom. I still feel unwell today and am back in bed, didn’t even want to take my dose of morphine this morning to help clear my belly.
It seems so immediately related I will not be drinking it again when I expect to return to work in a few weeks. Anyone else have similar happen?

I drink about 4 litres of diet tonic water each day. Am hooked on it but have been more anxious than usual. Could this possibly be related to the quinine?

I have been drinking diet tonic water for about 6 months and love it. I now have a major problem with vertigo. Is it possible tonic water could be the problem?

I have been drinking tonic water 16 oz every night for severe muscle cramps for 2 months… The cramps are gone but tennitis started 2 days ago. I am afraid to stop the tonic water or horrible cramps will come back.. but will this tennitis become irreversible?
What is the mechanism in the quinine that causes ear ringing?

I thought I would try tonic water because my brother in law swears by it. I have really bad cramps in my legs at night when I have sweated during the day. I tried 4 oz for 2 nights and the second night I awoke with a concerning heart irregularity. It felt like 2 balloons were fighting it out in my chest and lasted about a minute. I went on in to the ER and everything checked out with EKG and electrolytes so I would say it didn’t cause me harm. I didn’t like the implications, so I won’t be using tonic water again.

I have suffered with restless leg syndrome (which I call “jumpy legs”) all my life (I’m 58). When I was in my 20s, my doctor gave me quinine pills (325 mg); quinine works miraculously (like a warm glow in the legs) within seconds and I never had any side effects that I noticed. I also noticed that I did not have jumpy legs when I was taking quinine preventively for malaria when traveling in Africa. Later doctors wouldn’t give me any, I guess because the side effects became known.
Luckily, however, when I was 38 I found out what caused jumpy legs, in my case at least. It is a response to certain foods eaten during the previous day. If I just take a tiny bit (less than a teaspoon) of the pesky food/s before bedtime, I will not have jumpy legs and can go to sleep. Like with quinine, the relaxing effect occurs within minutes. Since then, there is almost never a time when I can’t get rid of the jumpy legs with my food cure. I’d still like to have the quinine for emergencies (like if the food isn’t available to me before bedtime, as when traveling, etc.), but my doctor won’t give me any and I have been able to live without it.
There’s not much point in stating the particular foods that affect me, because probably they are different for everyone. There also doesn’t seem to be any relationship between them or any common denominator. But in case it helps anyone, in my case they were milk (not any milk product, just milk itself); microwave popcorn (the popcorn or the other ingredients, I don’t know); beer, and rum. Since menopause some other things have become problematic: soy (for which I take a half teaspoon of soy sauce), tomatoes (use catsup), and some nuts, for example. It took me a year to figure out that some new foods were causing problems, and it’s a lot more trouble than when my only regular cure was to drink a tablespoon of milk, but taking a small dose of each item before bed still works. However, I notice that the calming effect takes several more minutes than when I was younger and requires a slightly larger dose.
I regularly take iron, calcium, magnesium, etc. as dietary supplements, but have not noticed that they do any good for jumpy legs.
So if you have jumpy legs regularly, start with the foods you eat regularly and begin experimenting. If you get them only occasionally, experiment with foods you just ate that day. You might have to go back as far as 24 hours to find the culprit. It’s tedious, but well worth it.

I have been drinking a small bottle of tonic w quinine for several years, to alleviate my restless leg syndrome…. I now have tinnitus, and have just learned that this can be caused by quinine. I do not know what to do now, for my restless leg syndrome which can keep me from sleeping. OR if my tinnitus which has caused very loud ringing in my ears, will go away if I stop the quinine. HELP

I have atrial fib have had for years also have drank tonic water for years. Recently my doc. tells me I am stage 3 kidney disease. I am age 72, is there a large amount of salt in tonic, I have a very small urine stream when I drink tonic before bed, please tell me your thoughts as to what is going on? bud

I’ve had nocturnal leg cramps for 30+ years as my Mother did all her life. I have tried a zillion fixes (horse chestnut root (works well), b complex, extra fluids at night) and nothing works for long. I started drinking tonic water w/ quinine the last 2 months and have slept like a baby every night – not even a twitch.

Several years ago, I went through a rough time with cancer and high dose chemotherapy, followed by a stem cell transplant. I am happy to say, the cancer is gone, but the leg cramps were so severe that they would make me sob with pain. I was told to try tonic water with quinine, could not drink enough of the stuff to make the cramps go away. I no longer have severe cramps, primarily because I try to stay hydrated.
I think a lot of people who drink the tonic water don’t experience relief from the quinine, but rather from the fluids. When I get the occasional cramp, I take a tbsp of baking soda in a glass of water, stir and drink it down. Cramps go away in around 10 min.

I have been drinking tonic water and I still don’t know if it is bad for me, and it is my first time drinking it, so I would like some help, because I also don’t know how to put up questions so I want to know if tonic water is bad to drink and if i should still drink it even though I have arthritis??? just those two questions?

For most of my life I have had occasional leg cramps in my calves at night…most noticeably during pregnancy. I can CAUSE a cramp in my toes by holding them strongly flexed downward for a few seconds. (I am 61..just did it right now to check if I can still do it–I can–and used to do it quite frequently as a child.) Last year I began to have HORRENDOUS cramping of my hamstrings. This is really a miserable occurrence, as the usual jumping out of bed and stretching your calf is relatively easy…stretching your hamstrings (where your heel is brought toward your buttock forcefully) is difficult at best and almost impossible when you waken in agony and cannot even think clearly!
I nearly fell down the stairs trying to find somewhere to stretch my knee out. A friend told me about drinking tonic water “with quinine”. I had no idea of the dosage or why it worked. However, it has worked LIKE A CHARM ever since, and I no longer have any leg cramps. I drink about 3 to 4 oz of diet tonic water with quinine about three to four times per week at night, usually mixed with unsweetened pomegranate juice… neither taste very good to me, but it’s great when combined! I have been drinking it for more than a year, with none of the side effects mentioned. Hope this helps others.

I wonder why none of us has reported the amount of alcohol added to our quinine drinks.

Is there something else that’s safe for RLS? My husband does suffer some nights worse than others from this. Is there a mineral deficiency? Is it caused by some certain foods?

Actually, a lot of tonic water today does indeed contain quinine, but in very small amounts (83 mg/L is the maximum amount by law). Look on the bottle- many brands that I have encountered (including big names such as Canada Dry) have labels that come with the advisory “CONTAINS QUININE”. You can also hold the bottle under a black light. If it contains quinine, it will glow.

I started drinking tonic water with quinine and was amazed how well it works toward my leg cramps. I only drank 4 ounces every other night, its amazing the results.

Would quinine in tonic water could contribute to my wife’s cistititis?

Let me know what you find out. I have been drinking a splash of tonic water with my water to see if it helps my arthritic knees.

Since the definition of “tonic water” is water flavored with quinine, whatever you think tonic water is, is definitely not that. Good luck trying to find something called “tonic water” that doesn’t have quinine.

Started drinking tonic water about a month ago for leg cramps. Had them terribly @ noc, would wake me up several times a night and I would have to get out of bed and walk around to get rid of them. My legs would feel like I had walked a marathon the next day SORE SORE SORE. Since I started drinking the tonic water with the quinine (calorie free), my lets cramps have gone. I missed drinking it for 2 days and had cramps return that night. I will drink it daily until I see adverse reaction to it. Sleeping all night is wonderful!

I have had leg cramps for about a year. My calf muscles ached and would cramp if I rolled over in bed and I would have to quickly get out of bed and put my weight on my feet to stop the cramp. Also while sitting in a chair and bending my left leg across my right knee, the tendon would sometimes tighten up and would instantly become very painful. I would have to uncross the leg quickly.
I had read somewhere about quinine being used for leg cramps and bought a bottle of Schweppes Tonic Water. I drank approximately 8 oz. and forgot about it. After two days I noticed the muscles functioned properly and wouldn’t cramp in any positions. The aches are also gone. I hope they stay gone.The relief is great! Fortunately I wasn’t aware of the possible side effects when I drank the Tonic Water.

I started drinking 4 to 6 oz of diet tonic water with quinine 4 mo. ago due to restless leg syndrome… I have not had even one incident since… I would normally SUFFER several sleepless nights a week. I haven’t noticed any side effects… Why does this work so well?

Tonic water has about the same amount of sugar as any soda. (probably corn syrup, yech!) I drink vodka and tonic but I sure don’t drink any extra tonic water.

My husband is having the same problem, his leg twitching keeps him awake all night… how much tonic water does your brother drink nightly, and how long before starting did it take to work?….

I have for the last year been drinking tonic water, every night about two small bottles and sometimes more. I loved it until recently I found that I was waking up in the night with terrible migraines. So thought I would give the tonic a miss for a while as I had heard too much quinine wasn’t good.
To my amazment the migraines stopped, it’s heaven. I did try again the other night just to test and the migrane returned. I really miss my tonic but not the migraine.

Is there any difference in the quinine content of the assorted bands of tonic water? Or do they all have about the same “roughly 20 mg” per glass? Or do they have just have flavoring without quinine?
Thanks for any information.

My brother started drinking tonic water with quinine to help him sleep. He had lazy leg syndrome and could not sleep. Would this create any other medical problems? Says sleeps fine every night. Uses it one half hour before bed time and sleeps all night.

All my life I have been told that tonic should never be drunk by children. Can you please comment on that?

I drink a liter of tonic diet tonic water a day — I love it. Mine says it has quinine in it. What kinds do not? I love the taste, but am a little concerned about the quinins.

Quinine is off limits for those of us with ITP (low platelets), as it can cause platelet levels to drop.

I just want to know what the positive & negative effects are towards drinking tonic water with quinine for people who have arthritis, I’m a bartender and one of my customers who suffers from arthritis says she drinks it all the time. And I was just wanting to know more about it before I tell my mother who is suffering from arthritis to start drinking tonic water with quinine. Thanks again, Rick.

I was a tonic lover and it was my social drink of choice. I consumed 1-2 bottles a week. An Indian doctor told me to be careful and not drink tonic, (maybe that was the one with quinine) since drinking it could cause vision problems and contribute to night blindness. I always thought my worsening night vision was just do to aging.
I gave up tonic, but wish I could enjoy it again.
Is there evidence to suggest night vision problems are related to drinking tonic with quinine?
A former tonic drinker

I have been drinking at least 48 ounces or better of diet tonic for the past two years with no side effect. i ahve had my blood checked. I do not think it has harmed me in any way

Most tonic water on the market today contains no quinine. This has been the case for several years now.

I, too, love the flavor of quinine tonic. I started drinking it in the mid-1980’s and later realized that in the same time period I first noticed two developments: tinnitis and an irregular heart beat (currently being treated as Atrial Fibrillation). I don’t drink any sweet soda, but I still love the quinine!

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