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Cramps

The spasm of the foot and the leg can very often disrupt sleep, as it can cause a sudden sensation of momentary pain; these reactions which are uncontrollable are called cramps. These spasmodic contractions can come about by way of the repeated utilization of a single group of muscles and can also come about because of sitting or lying down in awkward and uncomfortable positions leading to the restriction of the circulation of blood or in cases where nerves underneath the skin are depressed for a long time. A few seconds to a minute is the utmost duration of the majority of cramps, though some may extend to a few minutes in certain cases. In the elderly and in women who are pregnant, the type of cramp that is very commonly seen seems to be cramps of the leg. The lower back and the abdominal region are severely affected as a result of menstrual cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, these can cause a lot of pain and discomfort in the areas they affect.

Strenuous and vigorous physical exercise, the limbs being exposed to cold and poor circulation are all responsible for cramps, which is merely the uncontrolled contraction of muscle fibers, poor circulation is the main impetus however. A lot of acids in the general body tissue can also be the primary reason behind the occurrence of cramps. Especially metabolic reactions like the build up of lactic acid, after exercise can trigger cramps, this is usually because of not warming the body up beforehand by stretching and gentle movements of the body, lactic acid build up is also triggered most often by muscle overuse, bringing the potential occurrence of a cramp closer. An over strained and inhibited nervous system may also be the underlying cause of the cramp, if twitching accompanies cramping. The repeated use of the same muscles in the hands causes what is known as writer's cramp. Mineral deficiency is the usual reason for leg cramps that occur at night, especially minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are essential for the proper contraction and articulation of the musculature in the body, these leg cramps that occur in the night can also be due to as insufficient oxygen supply from poor circulation and blood flow in the persons experiencing them. Certain substances can leach out vital and essential elements away from the body, alcohol and coffee, have been implicated in their action of depleting the reserves of magnesium in the body. The abundance of acid substance in many varieties of foodstuffs is also a problem, as they are major contributory factors, these acidic food items include white vinegar, which abounds in foods such as pickles and other preserved goods, mayonnaise, things like mustard and all kinds of salad dressings. Thought it must be mentioned that natural wine vinegars and vinegars like apple cider vinegar are not a source of worry, nor are they contributory factors to the occurrence of cramps.

The loss of water and fluids that result from exposure to heat and during vigorous exercise are likely to bring on the incidence of cramps, as it is during such processes that a great deal of water and minerals are lost from the body. The replenishment of water and salts in the body is essential to prevent total collapse in the individual, especially where the muscle cramps are related to dehydration from heat, or from strenuous exercise, as these can drain away the essential salts and water from the body. There may also be serious underlying disease such as arteriosclerosis or thrombosis in the veins especially if there is a lot of cramping in the legs and if there is any heaviness in the legs even after a minimal amount of exertion, during such activities such as a short walk or jaunt.

In case where the cramping occurs when the woman is not in her menstrual cycle, the incidence of cramping could have other causes, as menstrual cramping comes about when the uterus contracts due to the onset of the menstrual period, therefore if the cramping happens when the person is not in her cycle, conditions such as a pelvic inflammatory disease or similar disorders, could be the possible cause.

Supplements and herbs

No matter their duration or mode of occurrence, the majority of cramps can be minimized in their actions and rate of incidence through the use of calcium and magnesium as mineral supplements along with a healthy diet. Muscular contraction and nervous coordination and conductance depend on this two minerals within the body, there presence or absence in sufficient quantities therefore is an important factor when dealing with cramps.

The absorption of these minerals into the body is aided but the compound called betaine HCI it aids digestive function by way of acidifying these minerals, therefore there uptake into the body is made easier. Calcium assimilation into the body is aided and improved when using the mineral silica as a supplement. Nervous system function, which is an important component in the rise of cramps, is aided by pantothenic acid, and this should be included in the diet as well. An imbalance in the B vitamin complex can be aided by including a B complex, supplement in tablet form imbalances. Tocopherol or the vitamin E is an essential supplement in cases where the cramps arise due to improper circulatory function or a dysfunctioning circulatory system. The action of an improved circulation and the increase in oxygen supply that happens due to the opening of the blood vessels, is an action that vitamin E can perform. Vitamin E as a supplement is particularly helpful to the elderly who are experiencing some form of nightly leg cramps and restlessness. Whenever a poor circulation is suspected, to boost the oxygen supply in such cases, use can be made of the coenzyme Q10.

For the topical and immediate relief from the pain of muscular cramps, use can be made of many types of herbal juices, tinctures and baths, used in compresses these soothe the area and increase the decrease the discomfort felt.

A single tbsp of yarrow juice can be taken daily to protect against all kinds of cramps and spasms of the muscles. The dilation and relaxation of the muscles is the main action of this herb. In combination with the juices of another herb, called silverweed, yarrow can be particularly effective in treating spasms. To relax and soothe down smooth muscles in the body that have cramped, use about 5-10 drops of wild yam tincture, mixed with water or some other liquid. It is important to have a good reserve of iron in the blood, make sure that some iron is consumed every week. A combination of 2 tbsp. of stinging nettle juice or alternately some spinach juice, with 4 tbsp. of red beet juice and 2 tbsp. yarrow juice can be mixed in a cocktail with grape juice; this improves the oxygen uptake capability of the blood. To relax tensed up muscles and to dilate the capillaries under the skin, massage some St. John's wort oil into the affected region of the muscles as topical relief. Topical applications on the affected area can also include hot herbal compresses or poultices, made from St. John's wort leaves and blossoms, the herb yarrow, the leaves of the comfrey or horsetail grass, these can all be used as a soothing local lotion or rub. Tensed up and constricted muscles can also be relaxed by bathing in water using a warm rosemary solution as an additive. Rosemary oil can be added to the bathwater in quantities of about 5 drops to an ordinary bath. Massaging and rubbing the area with lotions made from arnica or the oil of eucalyptus, can greatly aid in recovery and healing. These lotions particularly the arnica lotion must not be allowed to be rubbed on areas that have cuts or wounds or some form of bruising.

Homeopathy

All the homeopathic remedies that have been suggested for use below, can be used either according to the severity or seriousness of the cramps or in strengths of dosage of 6, 12 or 30, the frequency of use can vary, from once every half an hour, to a few times during the course of the day, as the need is felt or the cramps return. Repeated dosages of 200C have given good results, especially where the cramps were severe and extremely painful.

  • Belladonna
    Belladonna is to be used as a homeopathic remedy, where the cramps occur suddenly, and are intense in the region of the colon, the appendix and the general lower abdominal area. These cramps often come along with some form of inflammation in these areas. The pains are sharp and are sudden in arriving and departing. Other physical signs may include sensations in the abdominal area; these sensations may include hot and throbbing motions, coupled with the distension of the abdomen. Other signs that the person may show are a flushed face, and a throbbing head, the patient may also have a slight fever, and the pupils may be dilated. Psychologically the person may be anxious and restless. The person may worsen when taking in deep breaths, when moving any part of the body, and even the slightest rough motion may disturb them, and they may also worsen if lying down on the affected part. There condition will substantially improve when they are laid down with the abdomen facing down, when they are free to pass gas, when light pressure is applied on the affected parts and when leaning backward or forward.
  • Chamomilla
    Chamomilla is to be used when there is a sensation of a cutting pain around the navel, pain in the lower back and if there is of the gripping kind. Infants may be colic and flatus. Other signs may be the presence of diarrhea with the production of green colored stools with a sulphurous smell, which may resemble chopped spinach. The odor of the belches will resemble that of a putrid egg. The cheeks may be flushed and the presence of hot and abundant sweats will also be the likely symptom. The person may psychologically feel restless and angry. And will have no minimization of the condition even when passing a lot of gas. Such patients typically worsen at night, after eating from too much warmth, when drinking coffee, from at about 9 am or 9 p.m. and when they are touched and massaged, alternately their condition will improve when they are rubbed and some pressure is put on their body, when heat is used to soothe the cramps and when cold and icy applications are used for topical relief.
  • Colocynthis
    Colocynthis is to be used as a homeopathic remedy in those cases where the cramps cause pain that have the sensation of squeezing actions, the person may even be rolling in pain as the cramps can be extreme. Psychologically the patient may display signs of restlessness, and will be constantly moaning from the pain. The other signs are colic followed by flatus. The pain may extend out from the region of the rectum, into the lower back and the patient may be doubled up in excruciating pain. The person is usually very restless and very irritable. And emotionally they display signs of anger or of being humiliated. The person may also experience other unrelated signs such as a giddiness and feelings of faintness when the cramps begin. The person will worsen when indulged in the activities of eating and drinking, whenever he or she is angered, at night in general and around 6 a.m. in particular, he or she may not like lying on the stomach. The person's condition will generally improve when they are bended over, from some warmth, under hard pressure, when drinking coffee, when involved in some movement and after passing gas or defecating.
  • Dioscorea
    Dioscorea is to be prescribed and used in those persons in whom the cramps bring on griping pains in the region around navel. They may also experience some violent and twisting motions when cramping, and there may be grinding episodes of colic. The cramps bring on pain that stops abruptly to renew and start somewhere else. The pain may affect the regions from the abdomen to the back, the chest and the arms. The person will generally like to walks and move to feel some relief from the pain, even though exhausted from this exertion. In general the person will worsen when bending over, while lying down, when sitting, after drinking tea, during activities such as eating, and around 2 a.m. in the morning, and at all time in the evenings. The condition of the person generally seems to improve when they are standing erect, when they bend over back ward; they enjoy the open air and the outdoors, hard pressure, and when they are in motion, or moving.
  • Nux vomica
    Constipation may be present in such people affected with cramps, nux vomica is to be used in all such cases, the constipation that come along with the cramps, involve a lot of straining and strong urges. Other signs include the appearance of piles or hemorrhoids, and in some cases hernia, the persons may also display acid reflux. The pain is of the gripping kind. The production of gas may induce cramps. The persons may show the appearance of cramps in the region of the stomach especially after breakfast, in the time after meals, in the evening when lying down, after passing their stool, this cramps often come with sensation of nausea. The cramps have a peculiar nature in that they are of the jerking type, with spasms. These may be induced by the effects of alcohol; it could also be due to overeating, and in some cases due to certain medications. Emotionally the patient is always angry and irritable; they also show signs of being driven and being impatient with others. The patient may worsen when there is a lot of pressure from heavy clothing and sheets, in the hours of the morning, when touched or held, the condition may worsen spices, and being in the cold. The patient will show a marked improvement when he or she consumes some milk. In all patients who display these signs, nux vomica may be used as a homeopathic remedy.
  • Plumbum
    Plumbum is to be used as a remedy when the pain of the cramps brings on a violent colic, the pain and other sensations felt may be as if the abdominal wall were being drawn in by a string or being pulled. The cramps bring on extreme pain in the abdominal region, which eventually extends to other parts of the body. The abdomen may feel as if it were stone hard and will be contracted; the sensations include a feeling of the abdomen being stretched out violently in all directions. There is also a production of knotty and very hard stool in all such persons. The cramps can bring on bouts of sleeplessness and insomnia. The other symptoms that the patient will display include a quiet depression; the patient will have a poor recall and memory. The patient will worsen in the hours of the night, when moving or when the body is in motion, and when he or she is touched. The patient will greatly improve under hard pressure, when some massaging and rubbing is done on the affected region, when bending backward, and in places that are warm.

Additional things you may do

The feet must be put up and moved occasionally especially when the cramps are in the region of the calves. During intense and painful cramps the application of hot compresses, which are dipped in a solution of 1/2 a cup of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup hot water, greatly relaxes and soothes the affected region. Tensed and constricted muscles in the body that come on due top the cramps are greatly helped by taking warm baths. To the bath water that is used for this purpose of alleviating pain, add 2 or more cups of apple cider vinegar. It is in your interest to avoid wearing tight and constricting clothing and tight shoes, as these may have the potential of cutting off and restricting circulation in the body and may lead to the increase in the risk of cramps and spasms occurring. It is a good practice to do some stretching before and after a stint of hard exercise as this warms up the body and minimizes injury and the chance of cramps. Cramps that occur at nighttime can be alleviated by taking part in cold-water stepping.

Usual dosage

  • Vitamin B complex, 100 mg with 100 mg pantothenic acid.
  • Vitamin E, with mixed tocopherols, 400-800 IU.
  • Coenzyme Q10, 60 mg.
  • Calcium, 1,500 mg in divided doses.
  • Silica, three to six capsules.
  • Magnesium, 750 mg in divided doses.
  • Betaine HCI, 5 capsules 3 times a day with meals.

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