Quinine has been proven to be very effective in treating leg cramps. However, if you're in the United States, forget it.
You can't have any. It's authorized only for malaria. In other countries check with your local health authorities in other countries. It appears to be completely legal in Europe, although purchasers must be warned of possible contraindications.
Try keeping a small bottle of tonic water (as in Gin & Tonic – available at your local supermarket) by your bed and drink it if you get nocturnal leg cramps. Although the amount of quinine in tonic is minute, some people report good results.
Another option is homeopathic quinine. Hyland's makes a popular product--Leg Cramps with Quinine, and many people find quick, even instant, relief after taking it. Hyland also makes Hyland's Leg Cramps Ointment, which is a traditional homeopathic formula in a non-greasy base. This ointment works quickly to relieve cramps and pains in the legs and calves while warming the affected area.” Hyland claims Hyland's Leg Cramps PM “relieves pain and cramps in lower body, legs, feet and toes with accompanying nighttime sleeplessness. Leg Cramps PM provides effective pain relief that helps you fall asleep and get back to sleep at night.” You can find a store near you that carries these products at: www.hylands.com
Mag Phos 6X (also called Magnesium Phos 6X) is Magnesia Phosphorica. This provides necessary magnesium
(or at least the homeopathic energy of magnesium) quickly, and many people find relief with this remedy.
One reader reports that the best relief he has found is to take a supplement containing 250mg to 300mg magnesium per dose.
V8 or Tomato Juice
Drink V8 juice or tomato juice, both of which are very high in both sodium and potassium.
Take Tums or other antacid. Tums are high in calcium.
Place a pinch of table salt (sodium) under your tongue.
Drink Gatorade or other sports drink (high in potassium and sodium.) If available in your country, try Eno salts dissolved in water
Drink a glass of water to which apple cider vinegar and honey have been added. (The honey is simply to sweeten the vinegar and make it more palatable.)
Some people find that eating mustard brings quick relief. Others (including some professional football trainers) suggest pickle juice. Both mustard and pickle juice contain vinegar. Pickle juice also contains water and a little salt; mustard's main ingredient is vinegar, and some mustards are high in sodium. Why not just take the vinegar direct?
Drink (Eat? It's pretty thick) some molasses. Molasses is high in potassium and also has calcium and magnesium.
If you can, put your foot on the floor and apply some weight on it. Even stand up if you can. One person has suggested getting out of bed and standing on the balls of your feet. This tiptoeing will stretch the muscles in both the soles of your feet and your calves.
Cramping is the instant contraction of a muscle. Most people have an immediate impulse to move their toes/feet/leg in response. If you do it the wrong direction, it can hurt even more. You want to counter the contraction of your muscle by stretching it, but you need to do it very gently. So if your calf cramps, don't point your toes downward/away from you. Pull them backward towards your knee so that the calf muscle stretches because it's being pulled downward toward your foot. Don't do this too quickly or too forcefully. Do it slowly and gently. Stretching the foot should help with foot cramps as well.You can also keep your leg as straight as possible while you reach forward and pull your toes toward your head. This will stretch the calf muscle, too. If you can stand up, try doing a calf stretch. Hold onto the back of a chair, or press your hands against a wall and stretch as far back as possible with your sore leg, keeping the full foot (including the heel) of that leg flat on the floor. Lean forward, bending the knee of the “good” leg. This will stretch the muscle on the sore calf. Go easy and then ease into greater stretching. You'll know how far you can go.
Massage the area gently trying to help the muscle relax so that it can release the tightness and stretch.
You can also press directly onto the tight muscle for 10 seconds or so. Then release for a bit and press again. It may also help to stroke the muscle, both sideways and lengthwise.
Acupressure is like acupuncture, only you use pressure from your fingers rather than needles. Press firmly with your finger on a point in the depression below your noise, about two thirds of the way up from your upper lip. This point is called GV 26 by acupuncturists. Continue to press for 30-60 seconds. Then repeat if the cramp is still painful. Others have suggested using your thumb and index finger to pinch the center of your upper lip. Try this for 30-60 seconds. For a foot cramp, there's another acupuncture point designated LV 3. It's located on the top of your foot in the indentation between your big toe and the second toe. Press and rub this point with your index and middle finger (or your knuckle) for 30-60 seconds.
Apply ice packs to the painful area. (Of course that assumes you can get up and hobble to the kitchen to get them.)
Shower or bath
Take a hot shower or warm bath. Warm soaking will help the muscle relax.
Massage the area gently trying to help the muscle relax so that it can release the tightness and stretch. You can also press directly onto the tight muscle for 10 seconds or so. Then release for a bit and press again. It may also help to stroke the
muscle, both sideways and lengthwise.