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Ideas for muscle cramping

 
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Hey ya'll does anyone know of good herbs to use for cramping issues? Modern medicine kinda failed us on this one as all blood tests have come back as okay with electrolytes being in the good realm. We've done magnesium and potassium and sodium and re-mineralized water. I dont know if this is the right place to ask (if not let me know where to go). But does anyone have a tincture or herbal remedy that might help?
 
master pollinator
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Try an anti spasmodic herb. I suggest Passiflora incarnata.
 
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Try to keep yourself as hydrated as you can.  Force yourself to drink more water then what makes you satisfied.
 
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Anecdotally, when I played soccer all the coaches and trainers carried around yellow mustard packets, as in the little condiments that came with hotdogs from a convenient store. A sudden calf cramp got first treated by stretching to relax and a mustard packet. The two or three times I had it, it helped and other players said the same.

I know nothing about medicine or herbalism, or even why mustard worked (could have been placebo for all I know), just sharing what the trainers used to do, for what it's worth.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
master pollinator
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Oooops! Dosage of passiflora.

1 heaping tablespoon per cup of water 1-3 times a day


From  this book by Sharol Tilgnor.
 
Marae Davis
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I appreciate the responses and will try them out!
 
pollinator
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If your issue is muscle cramps, there are many possible causes beyond an electrolyte deficiency.
Eg, leg cramps can be caused by spinal problems.
You should get an evaluation by a traditional medicine doctor.
If the issue is muscle cramps, that was in certain circumstances in the old days treated by quinine,
However that is no longer recommended due to side effects.
 
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If you are talking about muscle (calf) cramps and not menstruation cramps, I can relate. In my case it came with menopause.

What does not really help is magnesium because I find it releases more electrolytes (by way of diarrhea the next morning). So I try to avoid it.
Also try to avoid alcohol. I find it worsens the cramping.

I find I get help from eating salty snacks and pickle brine, or in my case the brine of lacto-fermented food. Apparently it contains a good mix of electrolytes.

If you also get relief from herbal anti-cramp teas/infusions I am interested, maybe a combination of the two methods works best.
 
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I think you need to experiment -- blood work might tell you the normal range, but maybe your body needs a little extra of this or that. For me, a good dash of potassium salt makes all the difference. Another guy I know takes a calcium suppliment and it works.

Edit: I re-read the OP and it looks like you've tried potassium, though it's not clear regarding the form. I second the suggestion of monitoring and forcing hydration -- I'm one of those people who gets dehydrated easily but doesn't feel thirsty.
 
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I have read that massaging chamomile essential oil onto affected muscles helps.

Also, ginger, which stimulates circulation, is one of the most common herbs for leg cramps. Add ginger while cooking or making a tea from it.

I hope this information was of some value to you.

Something I learned from reading the forums is that magnesium bath flakes mixed 50/50 with water and put in a spray bottle works better than the chamomile or ginger for both muscle cramps and pain.
 
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Watching with interest.   I remember my aunt and grandmother suffering terribly from calf cramps, and now-post-menopausal I am starting to experience them as well, especially on first waking in the morning.   Or first stretching in the morning.   They sometimes even leave visible bruising and leave that muscle spot sore for days afterwards.   I'm not aware that anything traditionally suggested ever helped my older female relatives (and they are no longer around for me to ask detailed questions of).  

 
Anne Miller
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I saw a tv show that said that if a person takes a diuretic that potassium is something their doctor would tell them that they need to take.

My blood pressure medicine doesn't work unless a diuretic is included and none of the doctors have ever mentioned potassium.

After seeing that on TV I just recently started taking potassium.  I have always tried to get it from bananas and grapes though those are not always available to me.

The funny thing it seems that taking the potassium has helped with leg cramps.
 
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Your body will do whatever it can to keep blood electrolyte levels constant, including taking them from the tissues. So serum levels won't always tell the whole story.

I have had muscle cramping issues my whole life. I take 900 mg magnesium orally and it's not enough to stop all the cramping although it helps a lot. Only when I started using transdermal magnesium did the cramping stop. Your skin will absorb large amounts of magnesium and it doesn't interfere with the bowels. Our digestive tracts must have some limit on how much they can absorb in a day.

So many things can cause magnesium deficiency and a fairly significant percentage of people are deficient to some degree, mostly due to lifestyle (stress, diet, toxins, depleted soils, etc.).

My favorite antispasmodic herb is chamomile. It is also anti-inflammatory. The key for me is taking enough - a teabag or two won't do the job. I use about a cup of dried herb and make a big pot of tea. A couple of mugs of that and my muscles feel all relaxed.
 
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As has been mentioned, topical magnesium can help a ton. I've had some wicked calf cramps that were stopped in seconds by applying a magnesium salve I made. I could actually feel the knot in the muscle going away under my hand. You can make your own magnesium spray or salve very easily by just dissolving magnesium flakes into hot water, I believe it's a 1:1 ratio. I like oral magnesium too, though some kinds work better than others. Magnesium glycinate is what my DO recommended for me, as it is better absorbed and less likely to cause diarrhea the way some other forms do.

Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) might be a good one to look at. As the name suggests, it can help with muscle cramps. I'd recommend tincture, as it isn't very pleasant tasting, at least to me. I've found it very effective for menstrual cramps particularly. Hops might be another good option to look at, so long as the mild estrogenic effect isn't a problem for you.

Massage and gentle movement practices can be immensely helpful too. Considering if there might be any movement patterns or habits you have that might be contributing in any way could be beneficial. I've been finding the Feldenkrais method very helpful for addressing pain and tension in my body. The movement is very gentle and slow and is meant to help you gain a greater connection with and understanding of your body so that you can move with greater ease and efficiency.
 
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Low iron levels can also cause muscle cramps.  Seems like that's true with just about any of the vital minerals, like others have mentioned magnesium and potassium.

Maybe try boosting each of the minerals mentioned (within normal, safe levels) and see what works for you.
 
Marae Davis
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I really appreciate the responses. My husband is the one that cramps. Especially in his biceps and legs hes pretty fit guy and definitely stays hydrated and eats well. The potassium come from some supplements but he drinks a liter of organic coconut water a day and its kinda pricey but has helped the most in the past but the cramps still happen. At the moment we are trying the passion flower and I'm going to make a magnesium flake salve and go ahaead and add the chamomile as well. For those who are interested I will keep you up to date on whats worked for us!
 
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Depending on the type of cramps and if it is safe for you, you might find relief with crampbark.  

And if you want to increase magnesium without taking a bunch and potentially causing gastrointestinal distress, millet has about 15% of our daily requirement per serving.
 
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The few times I had muscle cramps, I was not eating a lot of veggies. If he's fit and eating a lot of proteins, he should make sure to also eat a lot of veggies. They will gives a lot of good things, not just the magnesium, or iron, or whatever everyone here is suggesting (I'm not implying that magnesium or individual supplement won't work; but vegetables will gives a wide variety of nutrients, which will be more easily available to the body; so instead of trying each nutrient one by one, having a load of them at once might give faster results).

It's not really a medicinal herb in itself, but let food be thy medicine ! If you can solve it at the root, that would be the best. Do he also stretch enough ? When do these cramps happen ?
 
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My issue isn't cramps but muscle spasms due to MS. Yes, there is a difference. Asking opinions, do you think remedy is same as for leg cramps? I've been miserable lately because it always happens at night. I'm already taking magnesium, potassium and gabapentin. TIA
 
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Mary Blankenship wrote:My issue isn't cramps but muscle spasms due to MS. Yes, there is a difference. Asking opinions, do you think remedy is same as for leg cramps? I've been miserable lately because it always happens at night. I'm already taking magnesium, potassium and gabapentin. TIA



MS Spastisty is a very real thing, I'm sorry you are having discomfort. I know someone who's mother has MS and one of the most important things they found was stretching and maintaining muscle tone. Physical therapy is a clinical recommendation in order to reduce the amount and severity of spasms.

Here is some literature on it, I hope this might be helpful. - https://www.nationalmssociety.org/NationalMSSociety/media/MSNationalFiles/Brochures/Clinical_Bulletin_Physical-Therapy-in-MS-Rehabilitation.pdf
 
Heather Staas
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Popping back in to say that potassium supplements have alleviated 99% of my morning leg cramping.  Very effective!
 
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Hi Mary,

Welcome to Permies.
 
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I'm not sure if it would help with MS spasms, but Viburnum opulus (aka cramp bark, highbush cranberry, guelder rose) can be very helpful for muscle camps, in general, including menstrual and overworked muscle camps.

Restless leg syndrome is another spasm type, and Potassium helped immensely, with mine. If you'd rather use for as your medicine, like I do, some of the best sources are raisins (yup - even better than bananas), bananas (of course), oranges, broccoli...
 
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For me, muscle cramps arise from being dehydrated. I can't fix it with one glass of water, it takes a consistent effort over several days.
 
Anne Miller
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A year, later and I am still using the magnesium bath flake mixed 50/50 with water in a spray bottle is still what helps.

I tried taking magnesium and potassium without any effect.

It seems that I get muscle cramps when my feet get cold or I have walked more than usual.
 
                        
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Here's some leg cramp tablets that I got years ago. The name is Hyland's. Pretty sure I got them at a health supplement store. Notice that they have quinine in them, but I am more suspicious of the drug industry than I am worried about the quinine. I also take aspirin - have taken it all my life and never had any stomach problems.
If I take calcium, or eat or drink dairy before bedtime, I will get a cramp. I think that some cramping is caused by poor blood flow, so anything that promotes blood flow to the effected area should help, like Icy Hot or any one of a number of muscle rubs. That's why the mustard probably works. I think that you should be sure that you are getting enough oxygen as well, by doing breathing exercises and learning to breath properly.

If that don't work, you can always hit yourself on the toe with a hammer.
(It's a scientific fact that if one part of your body is hurting badly enough, you have a tendency to forget about the other part.)
LegCramp.jpg
Hyland's leg cramp tablets
Hyland's leg cramp tablets
 
Anne Miller
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P. J. Possum wrote: Notice that they have quinine in them, .)



Thanks for the reminder about quinine.  I used to buy tonic water because it also has quinine.

It is too expensive where I now live as I have a problem paying $3.00 for something I know I can buy for $1.00 somewhere else.
 
Carla Burke
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Oats are also antispasmodic. I'd take care in getting organic, though, as it's one of the 'owl' crops, of which many are sprayed with... stuff.
 
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