Ask The Pharmacist: 9 quick hacks for leg cramps
Some of you have to jump out of bed really fast to mitigate a leg cramp, usually in the back of the calf, or in your thigh.
Leg cramps are not only painful, but they are a leading cause of fitful sleeping, insomnia and daytime fatigue. They speak to bigger problems too, such as dehydration, nutritional deficiencies and sometimes depression. This is because the root cause might be due to an imbalance in one of several key minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc or sodium.
Today my article will help you deal more effectively with nocturnal leg cramps so you can sleep through the night and feel better during the day.
Now, here are a few of the best hacks for leg cramps:
- Avoid sorbitol: There’s an interesting case study about a 34-year old woman who put herself on a diet that consisted of low sorbitol (and low fructose). She essentially cured herself of long-standing leg cramps within a few weeks.
- Reduce aspirin and ibuprofen: Many NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are known to be drug muggers of natural folate. A deficiency of this B vitamin will produce chronic leg cramps.
- Take CoQ10 with your statin: If you take a statin like lovastatin, atorvastatin or others, you should be taking CoQ10 or Ubiquinol every day.
- Avoid large doses of vitamin C: If you take too much vitamin C, it can upset your stomach and cause diarrhea. Then you’re faced with dehydration and that’s a trigger for leg cramps.
- Cut back on caffeine: Caffeine is a diuretic, so it causes mild dehydration. You may have noticed that on days you drink a lot of coffee, or have several energy drinks, you have more leg cramps. Not only that, but the chlorogenic acid in coffee is a drug mugger for magnesium, iron and zinc.
- Drink coconut water: This is a natural electrolyte, and I think it’s healthier for you than those strangely colored drinks that are loaded with sugar and artificial colors.
- Heat up a microwavable hot pack: Heat one of these up and it’s sweet relief on your sore muscles. You can heat it up right after you cramp, and apply it to ease the pain faster.
- Drink a little pickle juice: This should not help, but it actually does. It’s probably from the salt in the flavoring or from the vinegar. The salt would help with electrolyte balance, the vinegar might serve as a mild muscle relaxant.
- Try a massager: The hand-held devices that provide percussion might bring instant relief. There are many at Brookstone, or on Amazon such as the Pure-Wave CM7 cordless massager. I have a much longer version of this article that I can send to you.
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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.