Leg Cramps and Quinine
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Beth
Posted on: July 6, 1999

My doctor told me to drink tonic water for my leg cramps. I am take 260mg of potassium, but the leg cramps continue. My potassium are within good parameters. I have taken quinine pills – but YUCK, they melt in my mouth before I can swallow them. Isn’t there a product called quinine water that you can buy over the counter? If so, where can I get it? Or could you suggest an herb that will work on these darn leg cramps. If I find this quinine water, what would the drinking ratio be to one pill a day (260mg)?

Leg cramps are often caused by a deficiency of minerals required for proper muscle functioning or by insufficient blood flow to the area caused by blood vessel constriction. Vitamin E is usually recommended to improve the blood vessels (400 i.u. per day unless you have heart or blood pressure problems, diabetes or thyroid problems - consult your doctor) and a good source of calcium, iron and magnesium is recommended to ensure that the muscles have a sufficient mineral supply. Dairy products and dark green leafy vegetables supply abundant calcium and magnesium. Red meat, wheat bran, almonds and spinach provide both iron and magnesium.

Quinine is derived from Cinchona bark and used to regulate irregular heart rhythms and ease cramping. Several of Cinchona’s chemical compounds are available in tonic water. I don’t know of another drink containing quinine.

Sufficient potassium is necessary for heart, nerve and muscle function. Insufficient potassium may be caused by diuretic drugs or other excessive fluid loss such as in diarrhea. Food sources of potassium are meat, milk, whole grain cereals, potatoes, green vegetables, fresh fruit and cider vinegar. Herbal sources of potassium include Chamomile, Nettles and Plantain leaves which can be made into teas.

Coffee and alcohol leach minerals from the body and should be avoided.

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