Over the years, we have collected quite a number of home remedies for sudden painful muscle cramps. Often these are leg cramps, but occasionally muscles in the hands or arms cramp as well. One favorite remedy that coaches love is pickle juice. A few sips of pickle juice can chase a cramp away. But what about pickle relish? Does it work as well?
Pickle Relish for Sudden Leg Cramps:
Q. I appreciate the suggestion to use pickle juice for leg cramps. I don’t usually keep pickles around but I always have dill relish in the fridge. When I feel a cramp coming on, I just take two tablespoons of pickle relish and it goes away in seconds!
Why Does Relish Work?
A. Pickle relish should work just as well as pickle juice for stopping a nighttime muscle cramp. Presumably, the sharp taste of the vinegar in the relish is largely responsible for triggering TRP (transient receptor potential) channels in nerves to reverse the muscle contraction.
You can learn more about how TRP channel activation eases muscle cramps from this interview with Bruce Bean, PhD. He is a neurobiologist who suffered debilitating arm muscle cramps while paddling a kayak in the Atlantic. After that experience, he spent many years investigating the physiology of muscle cramps. His explanation of TRP channels and their role is fascinating.
Beyond Mustard and Pickle Relish:
You don’t have to stick with hot dog condiments to ease nighttime leg cramps. Several readers have found other ingenious remedies for this problem. Here’s just one:
Q. You have written about using mustard and dill pickle juice for leg cramps. I use a mix of honey and apple cider vinegar and it works quickly.
My favorite thing to use for leg cramps, though, is glycerin. It also gives quick results. I just rub it on the muscle and within minutes the cramp is gone.
A. We have heard from a few other readers that applying glycerin purchased at the drugstore can relieve muscle cramps.
“I even experimented by leaving one leg untreated; ouch, it cramped! Glycerin has been working for me about a year now.”
We could not find scientific studies of glycerin to prevent or treat nighttime leg cramps. However, we appreciate the experimental mindset of our readers. Topical glycerin is affordable and available without a prescription. If you don’t care for mustard or pickle relish, you might want to try it.
You can find out about other popular home remedies in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. We write about reader favorites for many common problems, from allergies and nail fungus to heartburn and high cholesterol.