Discussion and Treatment

Leg cramps are an extremely common and disturbing problem. They may affect the young or old, and may occur while walking or even while in bed. In their simplest form, the cause is a single mineral imbalance. Athletes often get leg cramps due to excessive exercise and sweating, which leads to a mineral depletion. A common mistake is to replace water lost in sweating by drinking water and taking salt tablets. Although salt is lost in perspiration, it certainly is not the only complex of minerals lost. The proper replacement for such mineral loss is fresh fruit and vegetable juice. We know of one marathoner who swears by watermelon juice. Bananas are a good source of potassium. The best prevention of leg cramps due to athletic exertion and perspiration is a diet high in fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and whole grains. Potassium broth is also a useful electrolyte source (see appendix 1).

Other forms of leg cramps are more complicated. Older age groups may suffer leg cramps associated with arteriosclerotic changes in the circulatory system and should be evaluated by a doctor well trained in cardiovascular disease. A diet similar to that found under Heart Disease is useful for long-term care. Specifically, vitamin E, 600 to 800 IU per day, has been found very effective in this type of condition.

Another common cause of leg cramps involves mineral imbalances in the body. Excess phosphorus in the diet from too much meat or soft drinks can be a factor, causing a relative calcium deficiency. To normalize calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus levels, reduce milk and meat proteins and increase vegetables. Hydrochloric acid deficiency may be another reason for poor calcium absorption. Calcium deficiency can also brought on by exercise. Finally, people who find eating vegetables difficult because of dentures or poor teeth are especially prone to magnesium and calcium deficiency and the resulting leg cramps. The only recourse in these cases is vegetable soups, potassium broth, and raw vegetable juices daily. The following supplements may be of use:

Therapeutic Agents

Vitamins and Minerals — Primary

Magnesium*: 500 to 2,000 mg per day. Especially for nighttime cramps.

Calcium*: 1,000 to 1,500 mg per day. Especially for daytime cramps.

Vitamin E*: 600 to 800 IU per day. To improve vascular circulation.

Vitamins and Minerals — Secondary

Vitamin B6: 100 to 250 mg per day.

Vitamin C: Up to bowel tolerance.

Bioflavonoids: 300 to 1,000 mg per day.

EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid): 1 to 2 capsules two to three times per day.

Hydrochloric acid: 5 to 60 grains with meals.

Botanicals — Primary

Prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum)*: A circulatory stimulant, and peripheral vasodilator.

Wild yam root (Dioscorea villosa)*: Spasmolytic, anti-inflammatory.

Cramp bark or high-bush cranberry (Viburnum opulus)*: Spasmolytic.

Peruvian bark (Cinchona ledgeriana)*: Spasmolytic. (Highly toxic. Use only with professional supervision.)

Botanicals — Secondary

• Pulsatilla (Anemone pulsatilla) spasmolytic, nervine (highly toxic; use only with professional supervision) • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) spasmolytic, nervine.

Excerpts from Better Health Through Natural Healing 3rd Edition

First published in 1985, Better Health through Natural Healing has become one of the most successful and authoritative resources of its type, with more than 1.5 million copies sold worldwide. Since the original publication of this comprehensive guide, alternative therapies have become more and more accepted by the mainstream, and patients and practitioners of the wider medical community are embracing complementary medicine as an effective treatment option for a range of medical conditions.

The book is available at the West End clinic, exclusively in Australia.


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