Posts for tag: cramp
Three months ago I wrote about muscle cramps / Charley Horse. This prompted the question: is quinine a good remedy?
For centuries the bark of cinchona plants (large shrubs or small trees) has been used as a muscle relaxant. It is also effective in treating malaria, and the quinine produced from this plant is available in the US as a prescription for this purpose. As recently as 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a safety announcement reminding us that prescription strength quinine (Qualaquin; 324 mg) should not be used for nocturnal leg cramps due to the risk of serious and life-threatening reactions.
In much lower concentrations (not to exceed 20 mg per 8 ounce cup) it may be used as a flavor in carbonated beverages (which, by the way, is bitter). As a beverage, called tonic water, the law requires that the label state the presence of quinine.
Homeopathic supplements with quinine are available, but won’t state so on the package. Why? According to the FDA, quinine cannot be listed when the official ingredient is “Cinchona Officinalis” since cinchona plants also contains other chemicals (alkaloids).
Interestingly, quinine is very sensitive to ultraviolet light and will glow in direct sunlight.
Good News: It usually only lasts a few minutes.
Bad News: It can be intense.
These cramps usually start suddenly and without warning. Common causes include muscle stress, vitamin deficiency, or medication side-effect.
What should you do? Stretch, massage and muscle exercises. (Handouts available in the office.) Foot orthotics are important for many patients. Pain killers sometimes are needed, especially if the cramps disturb sleep.
So where did the expression "Charley Horse" (or "Charlie Horse") come from? While no one knows for sure, it is at least 100 years old. Numerous sources relate it to baseball (such as pitcher Charlie "Old Hoss" Radbourn or from a lame horse named Charley that pulled a roller across the infield in the Chicago White Sox ballpark).
If you are suffering from foot or leg spasms or pain, please call our office at 847-675-3400 for an evaluation or schedule your appointment online at www.skokiepodiatry.com.