Natural Remedies For Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are not usually a serious illness*, but they can be incredibly painful and debilitating until they subside. They may be caused by several things, so I’ve listed a few treatments to try. What works best for you will depend on the underlying cause, so you may have to experiment to find the most effective treatment and prevention strategy.

What Causes Leg Cramps?

Leg cramps at night are called recumbency cramps, and are caused by spasmlike muscle contractions. You might also experience leg cramps after exercising if you are dehydrated. In both cases leg cramps can be caused by electrolyte or mineral imbalance in the body.

Leg Cramp Treatments

If your leg cramps are brought on by exercise, you may be dehydrated. Try drinking more water, both throughout the day and during exercise. Be sure to warm up and stretch before exercise and warm down and stretch afterwards as well.

Food Therapy Treatments

If you get leg cramps frequently, especially nocturnal leg cramps it could be due to an electrolyte imbalance.

Low potassium levels can cause leg cramps. Apple cider vinegar is high in potassium and this tonic should help quickly if your leg cramps are caused by low potassium: Mix 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey in a glass of warm water and drink.

If the above tonic helps relieve your leg cramps, try to boost your potassium levels by eating more of these potassium-rich foods: apples, bananas, dried fruits, avocado, mushrooms, yogurt, kefir, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked potatoes and cantaloupe. Potassium works with sodium to control the fluid balance in your body, and they have to be in the right proportions to each other in order to work effectively. If you have a high sodium diet try cutting back on the sodium a bit, use only high-quality salt such as Himalayan Sea Salt, and at the same time eat more of the foods that are high in potassium. Also, make sure you are drinking enough water.

Boosting your intake of calcium and magnesium can also help alleviate leg cramps. There is one super-food that’s incredibly high in both of these minerals, raw chocolate (also known as raw cacao). Here are some recipes using raw cacao. Eat more vegetables, especially dark leafy greens like broccoli and kale, almonds, and raw chocolate (raw cacao) all of which are high in both calcium and magnesium. One quick and easy way to get a lot of all these ingredients in your diet is to have a green smoothie daily. You can make it with almond milk as the base, add dark leafy greens, and raw cacao powder.

Other calcium-rich food sources include: salmon, sardines (with bones), green beans, turnip greens. Additional magnesium-rich foods include: raw chocolate (raw cacao, the #1 source of magnesium), nuts and pumpkin seeds, molasses, spinach, baked potatoes, bananas, wheat germ and seafood.

An important note about calcium: you want to avoid calcium supplements. David Wolfe has done a lot of research in this area, and calcium supplements are bad news. They are responsible for pretty much all age-related diseases. In a nutshell, they will kill you faster. They are promoted as being necessary to prevent osteoporosis. It’s a myth, a marketing ploy. According to David Wolfe, there is absolutely no scientific research to support that. If that’s not enough, just look at it logically. The USA consumes more dairy (also promoted as being high in calcium) than just about any other country, people are taking calcium supplements, they are being recommended by doctors, so why does the US still have such a high incidence of osteoporosis?

Physical Therapy Treatments

Acupressure or massage may help to ease the cramping once it’s started. Sit and bend the knee of your cramped leg, bringing your leg up toward your chest. There is an acupressure point in your calf muscle on the back of your leg. It’s about halfway between the back of your knee and your heel, at the bottom of your calf muscle bulge. Press and hold there for about a minute or until you feel the cramp release – remember to keep breathing while you do. You can also try gently massaging the back of your leg with long strokes upwards, from your heel to the back of your knee using the palm of your hand

*There are rare cases of leg cramps which are symptoms of more serious conditions, so if you have frequent leg cramps be sure to see your doctor about them.

Other Supplements For Muscle Cramps

I’ve more recently started using magnesium supplements and found it helps with muscle cramps and spasms. I developed plantar fasciitis a couple years ago and was getting terrible, painful cramps and spasms in the arches of my feet. I used a few techniques which helped, and I’ll be writing an article about that, but I found magnesium supplements quickly made the spasms stop and helped a lot with the pain and cramping in my feet.

Here is the magnesium supplement I use, it’s in powdered form and you mix it with water to make a drink: Natural Vitality Natural Calm Magnesium Supplement. It comes in several nice organic flavors, sweetened with organic stevia. The stevia sweetens it nicely, it’s not overpowering. It’s non-GMO, gluten free, contains no yeast, dairy, egg, soy, wheat, sugar, fructose, starch, preservatives or artificial color or flavor. I use it with cold water in warm weather, and hot water in cold weather.

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DISCLAIMER: The statements enclosed herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and information mentioned on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information and statements found here are for education purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of your medical professional.

44 Responses to “Natural Remedies For Leg Cramps”

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  1. Daryl says:

    Hi Donna, I am a avid runner and train regularly for ultra marathons (50+ miles) and I do sometimes struggle with leg cramps which can often be very painful and stop me dead in my tracks for some time. I am very happy to find your recipe for a tonic which I am going to start trying on a regular basis. I do eat and cook a very well balanced diet so sometimes it does leave me feeling a little confused as to when they happen. After reading your article I think I am about to head out and buy myself a juicer!

    Thanks for your interesting share.

    • Donna says:

      Wow Daryl, cool that you are an ultra-marathoner. From everything I have read it looks like leg cramps are due to mineral deficiencies and/or mineral imbalances. So I hope the tonic helps you. I get leg cramps sometimes, usually at night. I know how painful they can be. Post back to let us know if it helps.

      On a side note, do you incorporate chia seeds into your diet? They have been used traditionally by indigenous very long distance runners, foot soldiers, and are apparently the most awesome thing for stamina. I love them. I often put them into smoothies, but I have a recipe for a really yummy pudding made from chia seeds. I need to come up with some more chia creations too, I want to try making some crackers with them. Here’s a link to the Chia Puddings, Fruity Chia Pudding and Apple Cinnamon Chia Pudding. Chia is awesome for anyone, but as an ultra-marathoner you should really notice a difference.

      Something else you really want to look into, both for the leg cramps but also to significantly reduce your recovery time, and pain and inflammation that goes with your training and racing is Earthing. THE book on the subject is called Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?, by Clint Ober, et al. Imagine a technology that’s free, available to everyone, and provides the most amazing array of health benefits of any technology we have found or created. I think this book is a must-read for everyone. The authors have worked with and have case studies from a lot of athletes, including Tour de France racers.

  2. Angie says:

    I’m very intrigued by your mention of the book on Earthing, sounds very interesting, I must get a copy and read it :)

    • Donna says:

      I think it’s one of the best books ever. One of the best things we can do for our health.

      I got it from Amazon, in Kindle format (Earthing, Kindle format). I’ve got the free Kindle software running on my iPod Touch (they also have it available for Mac and PC). Saves delivery charges, you get it instantly and the Kindle versions usually save you a few bucks too.

  3. LuLu Jacobsen says:

    Excellent material. I am a yoga instructor and am questioned about leg cramps always. I will share this information with my students as I did on Facebook. Thank you!

  4. Sy Levy says:

    I am reading with great interest about your solutions to leg cramps. i get them at night; now more
    I am getting leg cramps more often than in many years, maybe because I just started working-out about a year ago. It’s like I am
    a teenager again. They are very painful. I do eat bananas, drink tonic water (on the recomendation of
    my physician), eat nuts, tomatoes and many of the foods you recommend, however, I seem to be
    getting them more often at night. I am able to ease the pain by massaging the areas where the cramps
    occur, but I cannot seem to avoid them at night while asleep. I cannot eat or drink foods with calcium
    because I have a tendency to develop kidney stones, and have been advised by my Urologist to stay away
    from dairy products and all foods that have calcium. I find it interesting that you claim calcium does more
    harm than good! Thank you for your information. I will try harder to follow many of your suggestions that
    I don’t now do. By the way, I am 80 years old. Someone told me my problem might be caused by Spinal
    Stenosis which I do have.

  5. Jen says:

    Love your site! My dehydrator has just arrived and I’m about to load my first batch of (red) kale chips!

    With regards to the calcium issue, here is some food for thought. Like most things in life, there isn’t a “one size fits all” remedy, cure or nutritional philosophy that works for everybody, without fail. In much the same way, few nutrients can be hailed as stand-alone miracle cures. There is usually a complex web of co-factors, enzymes, micro-nutrients, etc, that enable the efficacy of any nutrient.

    Calcium, on it’s own and in large quantities, may certainly be less than desirable. However, and this is a big ‘however,’ calcium combined WITH magnesium is an entirely different kettle of fish. They should ALWAYS be taken together in the correct ratio of approximately 2 parts calcium: 1 part magnesium. Calcium is responsible for normal muscle contraction, magnesium is responsible for normal muscle relaxation. Heaven alone knows how many heart attacks could be avoided by the simple addition of sufficient magnesium to the calcium-laden American diet.

    The combination of calcium and magnesium together is a wonderful, natural panacea for anything from sleeplessness, to sports injuries, to anxiety/nervousness, to PMS symptoms and cramping. I have also had great results with magnesium alone, since our diets tend to be high in calcium anyway.

    My 70 year-old mother has always taken calcium/magnesium supplements in this ratio, and a recent bone-density test showed she has the bone-density of a 37 year-old woman!

    I’m no doctor, but I have studied nutrition for almost 35 years and using calcium and magnesium together, neither I, nor anyone I have suggested this to, has ever had a problem. Just my two-cents worth!

    • sigrid mclaughlin says:

      how do you measure your “parts”? How much Ca or Mag is contained in one “part'”? I’d like to try your suggestion. Thank you!

      • Donna says:

        Hi Sigrid. ‘Parts’ are relative measurements, so for instance if you have something with 1 part to 2 parts ratio and you are using cups that will be 1 cup to 2 cups. If you’re using tablespoons it will be 1 tablespoon to 2 tablespoons. You can use something like the website http://nutritiondata.self.com/ to find nutrition data on just about anything. I hope that helps.

      • Jen says:

        Parts refers to the ratio of Ca to Mag in a given supplement, for example 1,000mg Ca to 500mg Mag, which is ideal.

  6. Dorothy Carr says:

    All very interesting for me as I have extremely severe leg cramps and it is now painful to walk as my ankles and calves are stiff.
    I go eat most of the recommeded dietry suggestions but this alone does not seem to make a lot of difference,I will now do the calcium magnesium thing. I have been told that my calcium levels are ok…. and I am an octogarian…. Any other suggestions would be very appreciated

  7. Hugh Good says:

    What I do for Cramps is when I start to get one. I put 1 or 2 tsp of mustard in the palm of my hand and lick the mustard out of my hand. Works for me

  8. David Davies says:

    Re-calcium: Do you think David Wolf likes selling books?

    • Donna says:

      I think he likes making money selling anything! I think he has some good free information if you can get hold of some of his interviews. But I don’t have as much respect for him as I did in the beginning.

  9. nazeer ahmed says:

    i want herbal remedies for night leg cramps . I would like to subscribe .

  10. Mary Coppage says:

    I Use Bragg VinegarBut Do I Agitate The Mother Or Leave Undisturbed?
    Into Solution First, Or LeanneLeanne

  11. Jenny says:

    To say calcium supplements are the cause of most age related diseases is a ridiculous statement. Also, the reason why people who drink milk still have osteoporosis is because the proteins that are in the milk leach out calcium from the bones. Colas do that, too.

  12. Dian Joseph says:

    I suffer with leg cramps & have tried everything,,,, now thinking of going for blood test, what next??

  13. Cid Young says:

    I’ve heard consuming dates help a lot!

    From Drugstore.com:

    Tips to help prevent and treat leg cramps

    Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Doctors recommend six to eight glasses every day. Massage your muscles before going to bed. Stretch daily, before and after exercise. Maintain a well-balanced diet and eat foods high in calcium (such as milk and cheese), potassium (bananas and dates), and vitamin E (spinach and sweet potatoes). If you have a leg cramp, gently stretch and massage the muscle. You can apply a warm heating pad to the area to help calm the cramping muscle and reduce discomfort. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) can help reduce the pain of leg cramps. Some people try natural remedies such as vitamin E, vitamin B6, magnesium, butcher’s broom, and MSM to prevent leg cramps.

  14. tunde says:

    Hello,
    I sometimes experience cramps if I sit on a certain position for a long time even at night I do have it on my legs,hands even on my man hood I mean my penis.
    Secondly I usually feel weak from inside,which comes with dizziness if am walking on a high way,but I feels tired easily too.
    Lastly for sometime now my manhood shrink to the smallest size and I hadly sustain erection not more than a few seconds even if I have not climaxed what can I do?

  15. Jessica says:

    I have severe leg cramps and would like to try the tonic. Although I don’t see anywhere, where it says how much water to use!!! Please help me, I’m at my whits end!! Thank you…

    • Donna says:

      Hi Jessica, thanks that’s a good question. I should have said in a glass of water. I’ve updated the post to be more clear about the amount of water now. It doesn’t have to be an exact measurement.

      There’s something else I’ve been using that has helped me a lot. I’ve updated the article with this information too, but it’s a really good magnesium supplement powder that you mix with water to make a drink with. I was having really painful muscle cramps and spasms in the arches of my feet and they stopped when I started drinking this. In the summer I drink it cold, in the winter I mix it with warm water and drink it like tea to warm me up. It comes in several organic flavors and is sweetened only with organic stevia… and they’ve done it just right, the stevia taste isn’t overpowering. It’s called Natural Vitality Natural Calm.

  16. Tony Mena says:

    I enjoyed your article. I’ve been reading up on Sciatica and leg cramps. I know I have inflammation, other than that I am very healthy. I have been taking bragg’s organic raw apple cider vinegar, two tablespoons in a glass of water sometimes with honey. I do this in the morning just after getting up and 1 – 2 more times during the day, I feel energized after I take it and have lost several pounds with no change in diet. I am about to begin my third bottle. I believe this tonic will be a life style. I highly recommend it. I have bookmarked your site and will be reading your other articles. I look forward to it. Have a good one.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Tony. It’s interesting to hear that you are also losing weight on this regime of ACV. Weight loss is one of the benefits of apple cider vinegar, but then so many other things claim to help you lose weight too, it’s hard to separate what’s true from the scams. So it’s great to have actual feedback to that effect.

      • Tony Mena says:

        I can actually say I am feeling better taking the tonic. The weight lose is gradual. I believe it has curbed my late evening eating, hence the weight lose. I want to take a colon cleanse as well, which I know has helped me in the past. I have exercised the majority of my life (walking, stretching, push ups, knee bends and resistance band). I’m a sound 61 year old who turns 62 the middle of this year. I believe more and more in what nature has for us and am opting more for natural, be it for medicine, health or quality of life.

        • Donna says:

          Late evening snacking is what gets me too! Thanks for your comments Tony, it inspires me to start up on taking the ACV tonic more regularly. I’ve found an interesting thing for colon cleansing, it’s not herb based like most of them. Along with enemas, it’s like being scrubbed clean, and it gets up into your small intestine. It’s called Colonsan, you can find out more about it here, there’s lots of information on that page.

  17. Peter Paglia says:

    I have been having the worst night time leg cramps for the past 3-4 months; so bad that I was afraid to go to sleep fearing the inevitable. I would drink 3 liters of water, I would chug tablespoons of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar I would drink Gatorade, all to no help.

    Finally, after reading your sight about potassium (my levels according to recent blood tests are just fine), I purchased potassium chloride, magnesium chloride and Trace Minerals Research Electrolyte Stamina Power Pak. I have slept for the past three nights with no cramping. I plan to take less of each until I feel that the minimum dose is still effective.

    Thank you so much for sharing your information. I hope I can do the same.

  18. Cydni says:

    Loved your acticle! Just restarted exercising and will try these remedies. I also have the same troubld with my feet. Thank you so much-life saver!!

  19. Tony Mena says:

    I’m sharing this, I’m sure many go though this..

  20. Valerie says:

    Leg cramps are the most troubling thing for me. They awaken me in the middle if the night causing excruciation pain. Sometimes they are so severe I end up with damaged muscles that cause me to limp for a day ir two. This may sound bizarre, but I have found several things consistently cause me to have cramps: (1) too many high potassium foods such as oranges or apples (2) oral magnesium supplements and (3) too much chocolate, (4) too many sweets. I have found one thing to consistently stop and/or prevent leg cramps, SALT! I know this is contrary to conventional wisdom, but I guess my body has a mind if its own. 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of unrefined sea salt washed down w/ about 6 onces if water every morming and at bedtime usually prevents it. If I forget, I can usually stop a cramp w/i minute with salt & water. Some may say the water alone is what works, but this is not the case for me. Plain water does

  21. Sarah Clark says:

    I would like to note the note (about calcium supplements): it says there is no evidence to support the use of calcium supplements: ok, that may well be true (I haven’t the time to check), but there is also no evidence given or referred to for the drastic claim that they are the cause of “pretty much all age related diseases” (except a nebulous reference to David Wolfe, without any other specifics). The reference to logic: the US has an above average consumption of milk products (this does not also mean that there are not large sectors of the population who consume little or no milk products); its population uses calcium supplements and still there is a high rate of osteoporosis in the US? Is it not possible that osteoporosis is only very prevalent amongst those US citizens who do NOT take calcium supplements? Just because these two variables are high (if they are: again, it gives no evidence for this claim, i.e. percentage of US population who say they take supplements), it does not mean they are associated and even were there evidence for association between use of calcium supplements and osteoporosis, this would not necessarily mean that the one causes the other – some other factor may be involved, i.e. those with a high family incidence of osteoporosis also tend to take calcium supplements, for example.

    Also, I find it curious that on the one hand, calcium supplements are condemned as more or less fatal, whereas magnesium supplements are recommended? Any particular reason why calcium supplements cause age-related diseases, but magnesium supplements are beneficial, apart from personal experience?
    As far as I know, all dietary supplements should be viewed with caution, not treated as a substitute for a balanced diet, and over-consumption of some can actually be dangerous…

  22. Melody K says:

    Good Morning Donna,

    I had the worse leg cramps this weekend and both my legs still hurts today. We went hiking and i didnt have any issues going down the trail and on our way back to the car my left leg starting cramping up so my friend gave me some gatorade and some trail mix and i continued to drink water from my camelpacked but as it progress my cramp transfered on my right leg and and as we continue to go up and down the mountain trail the cramp continues to become worse until i finally couldnt walk so I sat down and my cramps on both my legs worsen so bad that i had to take my shoe off and my other half poured some cold spring water and while i was trying to stretch and move my legs. The pain finally subside alittle that i was able to get up and continue to walk but it was still painful because i still had to continue to go up and down the trail so i had to stop and go in pain. Eventually my friend said that i must be low in potassium so our friend just keep trying to make me drink water and gatorade and continue to eat some trail mix . It has been the most unbearable so now that im back home . I started to eat some bananas , tuna and continue to drink more water. i will try all the suggestions here. I seriously didnt have this much pain when i was still active in the military. Thanks for sharing the article.

  23. Cynthia Robinson says:

    I suffer from severe leg cramps, unfortunately this seems to be hereditary. Both parents had this problem. Tonite I took a chance and googled dark chocolate & muscle cramps. The reason…I was having those really painful inner thigh cramps. I had a dark chocolate bar w/almonds… So I ate a few pieces and within a minute the cramps subsided. THAT never happens!

  24. Cynthia Robinson says:

    One other thing that works like a charm… Dill pickle juice. Cramp is gone in under 20 seconds. Old, well known sports remedy.

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