Natural Home Remedies for Leg Cramps

You are having a cramp, or muscle spasm, when the muscles in your calf suddenly become hard and painful.

Photo of acupuncturist applying needles in a person's legs

It often happens at night and may be caused by a one or more of a number of things:

  • Dehydration
  • Disease
  • Exposure to cold
  • Fatigued muscles
  • Lack of stretching
  • Mineral deficiency
  • Misfiring nerves
  • Overuse of muscles
  • Pinched nerve in your spine
  • Poor circulation
  • Pregnancy due to decreased mineral levels
  • Side effect of medication

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

Unless you have Restless Leg Syndrome, this is a condition to care for at home. If you are cramping often for no discernable reason, call your doctor.

SELF TREATMENT

DIET

A healthy immune system is always the first line of defense against physical disorders. To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan. Since a well-balanced diet with food variety provides you with multiple nutrients, including minerals, you are likely to have fewer problems with any nutritional deficiencies that can cause cramping.

FOODS THAT MAY IMPROVE THE CONDITION

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Blackstrap Molasses
  • Bone broth
  • Citrus juice
  • Hot peppers
  • Magnesium-rich foods
  • Potassium-rich foods
  • Pumpkin seeds

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO AVOID OR REDUCE

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Excess sugar
  • Processed foods
  • Tobacco

TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

  • Aloe Vera juice
  • Amla powder in water regularly
  • Apple Cider Vinegar in water a couple times a day
  • Baking soda—a pinch in water after a workout
  • Black cohosh tincture in water
  • Chamomile
  • Green tea
  • Pickle juice
  • Raspberry tea
  • Turmeric in warm milk before bed

HERBS AND SPICES

  • Alfalfa
  • Bilberry
  • Butcher’s broom
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Celery seed
  • Cinnamon
  • Cramp bark
  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Goldenrod
  • Hawthorn
  • Horse chestnut
  • Indian gooseberry
  • Moringa leaves
  • Mustard – A spoonful of yellow mustard taken internally (works pretty fast, so use it when cramps occur)
  • Nutmeg
  • Passionflower
  • Rosemary
  • Turmeric
  • Wild yam
  • Yarrow

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically on your skin in a carrier oil (coconut, almond, olive, etc.) or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath or compress. Find recipes for blends on the web or create your own. For leg cramps, try a diluting an oil and using it to massage your legs.

  • Caraway
  • Chamomile
  • Clary sage
  • Clove oil
  • Eucalyptus
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Nutmeg
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

The cost of having a blood test to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies is likely to be negligible compared to over-consuming expensive supplements that you do not need and maybe doing more harm than good

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin E

HYDRATION

Dehydration usually means potassium loss, and that can cause cramping. Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½-1 ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

Exercise is important for circulation as well as muscle strength and health. That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend, meditate. Do what works for you to stay mellow.

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Stretch and massage the muscle.
  • Aim for several hours of quality sleep each night.
  • Ask your doctor about the medicines you are taking.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and tobacco.
  • Castor oil pack on the affected area
  • Cold can aggravate muscle cramping, so keep muscles warm.
  • Cold pack
  • Do not sit cross-legged.
  • Epsom salt bath
  • If you aren’t exercising, start a moderate exercise program.
  • Relax your muscles with a warm shower or heating pad.
  • Stay hydrated.  Drink a glass of water before bedtime.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

CAUTIONS

Ask your doctor about Restless Leg Syndrome, a nervous system disorder which interferes with sleep.  There are medications for RLS but home treatment would be much the same as noted above.

PREVENTION

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Adequate hydration
  • Regular exercise
  • Low stress levels
  • Quality sleep

 

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