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Readers Offer Remedies for Painful Hot-Weather Muscle Cramps

Readers Offer Remedies for Painful Hot-Weather Muscle Cramps

Q. If I work hard in the hot sun for a couple of hours I get serious muscle cramps. Last week I worked for nine hours at 90 plus degrees scraping, sanding, caulking and painting my house.

Later I had dreadful cramps in my back muscles, feet, hands and legs. My usual remedies (drinking hot mint tea, soaking in a hot tub) didn’t work. I took a walk, but the cramps returned as soon as I sat down.

A friend told me to drink pickle juice. The cramps ceased after a tablespoonful. 
I have no idea how it works. It just does.

A. Many other readers have found that sipping pickle juice can get rid of muscle cramps quickly. It may be the sodium or the vinegar or some other unidentified ingredient. There’s even some research to support this remedy (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, May, 2010).

Another option is yellow mustard. One reader, a landscaper, offered this testimonial: “I keep mustard packets in my glove compartment, my emergency kit for disaster preparedness and two places in my home. They work for the kind of muscle cramps that come on over a period of hours. I have a very physically demanding occupation that causes me to sweat a lot. I imagine the imbalance in electrolytes has something to do with the muscle cramps. Swallowing a packet of mustard works fast.”

If you are interested in other home remedies for muscle cramps and similar hot-weather ailments, we suggest our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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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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