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7 Natural Strategies to Ease Muscle Cramps

7 Natural Strategies to Ease Muscle Cramps
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By    |   Monday, 06 November 2017 12:50 PM

There's nothing too much more painful than being jerked from a sound sleep by a severe muscle cramp. Often called a charley horse, sudden muscle cramps frequently occur in the legs, and can last from a few seconds (that seem like minutes), to several minutes that seem like hours.

Often the cramps are caused by muscles tightening in the legs, which can be caused by several things. Muscle injuries, dehydration, and low levels of minerals are all possible culprits, as are many medications.

Fortunately, simple, natural remedies can often bring relief. They include: 

Pickle juice. The next time you have muscle cramps, grab a jar of pickles and drink some of the juice. A study at Brigham Young University found that pickle juice stopped muscle cramps in their tracks. Volunteers were subjected to muscle cramps and then either drank 2.5 ounces of pickle juice (from an ordinary store-bought jar of pickles), deionized water, or drank nothing at all. Muscle cramps stopped within 85 seconds for those who drank pickle juice — 45 percent faster than for those who drank nothing and 37 percent fast than for those who drank water.

Stretches. One reason charley horses occur when we're sleeping is that the normal side sleeping position with toes pointing down shortens calf muscles and makes them more likely to contract, causing a painful cramp. Ease it by first flexing, then pointing your toes. Hold each position for a couple of seconds and repeat for about a minute. Stretch the calf by standing in front of a wall with your cramped leg behind you and bending the knee on the other leg.

Calcium. Many muscle cramps are caused by a calcium deficiency. Eating a diet high in calcium-rich foods such as dairy products and green leafy vegetables, as well as taking calcium supplements can help reduce the deficiency. Try drinking a glass of warm milk before sleeping.

DMSO. Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) comes from a substance found in wood, but its medical properties have been studied for more than 50 years. The pungent, anti-inflammatory substance is used as a solvent, but it is approved by the FDA for external use as a prescription medication for treating several conditions, including shingles. Some athletes relieve muscle cramps by applying a bit of liquid DMSO topically.

Chamomile. Chamomile, which has been used in herbal medicine to combat muscle cramps, contains 36 anti-inflammatories. It also increases levels of the amino acid glycine, which relaxes smooth muscles and can ease muscle cramps and spasms. Drink several cups of chamomile tea during the day or take chamomile supplements.

Magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral, and a deficiency can cause muscle cramps, muscle spasms, and pain. Eat foods high in magnesium, such as whole grains and green leafy vegetables. Taking a magnesium supplement (300 mg to 400 mg) before bed relaxes muscles and also helps the body absorb calcium — which can also cause muscle cramps in cases of deficiency. 

Water. Many muscle cramps are caused by dehydration, so make sure you drink eight glasses of water during the day. If you get muscle cramps while exercising, try taming them by drinking a glass or two of water before each workout and stopping frequently during workout sessions to replace lost water.

If muscle cramps are more than an occasional annoyance, see your doctor. Also, check you’re your healthcare provider to make sure that any herbs or supplements won't interact with medications you are already taking.

Also, understand that some deficiencies that cause cramps, like magnesium, could be caused by problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes, or kidney disease.

Don't forget that common prescription drugs may be causing frequent muscle cramps. Suspects include Evista (used to treat osteoporosis), Procardia (treats high blood pressure and angina), and statins used to control cholesterol (including Lipitor, Pravachol, Crestor, and Zocor).

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There's nothing too much more painful than being jerked from a sound sleep by a severe muscle cramp. Often called a charley horse, sudden muscle cramps often occur in the legs, and can last from a few seconds (that seem like minutes), to several minutes that seem like...
natural, strategies, ease, muscle, cramps
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2017-50-06
Monday, 06 November 2017 12:50 PM
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