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How to Use Pickle Juice for Muscle Cramps

How to Use Pickle Juice for Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps are a vexing problem. They are understandably common during or after exercise, when muscles have become fatigued. Many people also suffer from painful leg or foot cramps at night. These may wake them from a sound sleep. Stretching the affected muscle often relieves the pain, at least temporarily, but it may take a while. We have heard from many readers who like to use mustard or pickle juice for muscle cramps.

Do You Take Pickle Juice for Muscle Cramps?

Q. I read in your column that pickle juice can ease cramps. However, you left out a lot of details.

  1. What is the recommended dosage?
  2. How many times a day should it be taken?
  3. When should it be taken? ie; Morning, evening, bedtime, before meal, with food or after meal.

Details on Pickle Juice for Muscle Cramps:

A. It is always tricky to pin down the details of a home remedy, but we will do our best. The first study we noticed that tested pickle juice for muscle cramps used electricity to cause a cramp in the big toe (Miller et al, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, May 2010).

The researchers found that giving the young men pickle juice as soon as the cramp started shortened it from about two and a half minutes to not quite two minutes. The volunteers drank about a third of a cup of pickle juice, approximately 75 ml.

HotShot Instead of Pickle Juice?

The makers of HotShot, a product designed to treat muscle cramps, now recommend drinking 1.7 ounces of their formulation half an hour before starting a strenuous workout as a cramp preventative. This product increased cramp threshold frequency (CTF) in a placebo controlled trial (Behringer et al, European Journal of Applied Physiology, Aug. 2017).  CTF is a measurement of cramp susceptibility, and a higher threshold means a person is less likely to cramp.

We hope that helps clarify some of the details on this home remedy. If you have used pickle juice or another remedy to quell muscle cramps, please describe the details of your approach in your comment below.

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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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