Taming Charley’s Horse
If you’ve ever been stopped in your tracks by a muscle cramp, also called a Charley horse, you know how debilitating they can be. Generally, they seem to happen at night, and involve the legs, although they can happen any time, anywhere. The causes are many, and can include: overworking muscles, sitting too long in one place, dehydration, and use of diuretics that cause the loss of potassium. If this latter is the case, you might wish to talk to your doctor about a “potassium-sparing diuretic.” Of course, paying attention to muscle pain, moving around frequently, and staying hydrated will help.
However, leg cramps can still crop up despite your best efforts. I’ve been experiencing them lately, so went looking for answers. It seems that there are two basic options for treating leg cramps. Some remedies like tonic water, mustard, and pickle juice, are used at the onset of a cramp to ostensibly stop it in its tracks. Recently, there has been some scientific evidence to explain why these remedies work. Check out the Peoples’ Pharmacy Podcast for a detailed explanation.
Another approach is supplementation, either with food or potassium, magnesium, and/or calcium tablets.
In reading through lists of potassium-rich foods, I found that many of them such as fruits, leafy greens, tomatoes, beans, and potatoes, already help comprise a healthy diet. Incorporating potassium-rich foods into your diet not only helps stave off muscle cramps, but is excellent for overall heart health as well.
Thanks, as always, for reading. If you have any comments, we’d love to hear from you.