Mustard for cramps is one result that most medical practitioners have not come to terms with. The reason may be because they do not understand how mustard can be efficient and fast in treating cramps especially in the legs, they are yet to understand how mustard taken into the stomach is absorbed by the body and produces a pharmacological action on the body. But we cannot deny the fact that mustard is effective for relieving muscle cramps.
WHAT IS MUSTARD
Mustard is a condiment that is made from the seeds gotten from a mustard plant. The plant is from the family of Brassicaceae. The seed is very useful as it can be made into paste, spice and edible oil. There are types of mustard seed and each has health benefits.
1. White Mustard
White mustard is used as a condiment and also used in making medicines. People take this mustard to prevent infection, increase appetite, clear their voice, cause vomiting and also to increase urine flow as a means of relieving water retention. White mustard is mostly grown as a cover and green manure crop.
2. Black Mustard
This type of mustard is used for making oil and medicines. It is also used as a spice to condiments. The leaves are used in dishes like salads and the seeds are used to make dishes in India.
Black mustard is the most pungent, it has a strong ordor and taste because of its acidic content. Black mustard has chemicals that can reduce pain initially when used on the skin but if it stays on the skin for so long, it can irritate the skin or cause burning.
3. Yellow Mustard
Yellow mustard is very popular as it is used as condiment in dishes like salads, burgers and other foods, it has a unique and spicy flavor, aromatic taste and rustic fragrance it gives to dishes. It is also rich in fiber, protein and vitamins including vitamin C and B‐complex. Apart from its culinary benefits, yellow mustard is beneficial to health.
It is used in treating ringworm, respiratory problems and muscular pains. It can also be combined with other medicines to treat cancer and diabetes. In general, mustard is very beneficial with pharmacological effects in many diseases although there are few clinical trials that support the use of mustard for any indication.
MUSTARD FOR CRAMPS
Cramps are caused when muscles contract involuntarily, they can be painful and last for minutes or seconds. There is no exact cause of this contraction but most cramps especially leg cramps can be caused by lack of water in the body, fatigue of the muscles and low level of electrolytes. These cramps usually occur after an exercise or physical activity.
There are so many drugs that can be used to treat muscle cramps, massage therapies can also be used. Other than drug, there are substances that can help relieve these cramps. Substances like pickle juice or mustard are known to be effective in preventing muscles cramps.
HOW DOES MUSTARD HELP WITH CRAMPS
The first thing you should know is that there are no scientific evidence that supports the ability of mustard to prevent or relieve muscles cramps but this does not mean that they do not work when used. However, there are theories that were propounded which answer the question of how individuals were able to get relieve from muscle cramps after using mustard.
Mustard has nutrients like sodium and potassium. So, some theories believe that the sodium and potassium acts as electrolytes that can help to prevent muscle cramps that are felt after exercise or physical activity. However, National Library of Medicine in 2014 published a study that countered this theory as the research for the study was done with nine healthy participants and the result showed that taking mustard after a 2-hour bout of exercise did not fully replenish electrolyte losses due to sweating and dehydration.
Yellow mustard has little quantity not tumeric, this tumeric has anti-inflammatory properties. Another theory is of the opinion that the tumeric in mustard prevents muscle cramps and relaxes the muscles. But there is no research currently to support this claim.
Many researchers found out that mustard has molecules called isothiocyanates, these molecules activate sensors at the back of the throat. The signals is sent to the various parts of the body and it prevents the nerves from being overexcited. If the muscles are overly excited, they can lead to cramping. However, more researches are needed to prove that the body relieves the muscle cramps by using this mechanism.
Most nighttime cramps are caused by when the neurons are overly active, this made experts to believe that mustard work by changing how the brain processes different stimuli. The peculiar taste in mustard sends signal to the body’s nervous system and overrides the signals that cause the cramps.
Another believe is that since muscle cramp is caused by lack of electrolytes like sodium and mustard has enough potassium and sodium, these nutrients can balance the electrolyte level and stop cramps. There is no study to back up this claim though.
WHAT YOU SHOUKD KNOW ABOUT TAKING MUSTARD FOR CRAMPS
Many people have testified to the effectiveness of mustard in relieving and preventing muscle cramps but there is lack of scientific evidence currently on the use of mustard for cramps relieve. Some health practitioners may believe and warn that excessive use of mustard may worsen dehydration in the body but this fact has not been proven. The National Library of Medicine and other research institute consider mustard safe for consumption.
Another issue is that since there is no scientific study for the use of mustard for cramps, there is no dosage stated to tell how much mustard should be taken to treat or prevent muscle cramps. Testimonies from users and individuals have shown that 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 grams) of mustard is enough to give you results.
HOW TO USE MUSTARD FOR CRAMPS
Out of all the types of mustard, yellow mustard is known to prevent or treat muscle cramps. You should take the cramps at night, a teaspoon or two is sufficient. Let the mustard stay in the mouth for some seconds before you swallow. The mustard will start taking effect in your body which will help you to sleep very well.
The anti-inflammatory properties in mustard will give you immediate relieve. If you always take the mustard every time due to muscle cramps, you are advised to see a doctor as the cramps can be caused by something more serious than contraction of your muscles.
OTHER WAYS TO PREVENT OR TREAT MISCKE CRAMPS
There are some other therapies apart from mustard that can be helpful to those who experience muscle cramps.
There has been evidence which shows that quinine can help to reduce cramps but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned against using this drug for leg cramps to avoid serious side effects. The drug should be prescribed by doctors only when the cramps are severe and the patient can be closely monitored for side effects. The benefits of quinine is smaller than the side effects if not handled properly.
2. Stretching Exercises
There are so many stretching exercises that can help with cramps and increase the flexibility of your body. The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) stated that there are not enough data to say the exact frequency of pain that will be relieved using stretching but that does not mean that it does not produce results.
3. Calcium-channel Blockers
These are drugs that are used to treat abnormal heart beat, migraines, pulmonary hypertension, anginas and high blood pressure. They can also be used to relieve cramps. One calcium-channel blocker—diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor XR) is enough to produce results. This drug should be prescribed by a doctor or health personnel.
4. Vitamin B Complex
Taking a daily capsule that has eight vitamins like B vitamins—B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 can be effective in relieving and preventing cramps.
HOW TO PREVENT CRAMPS
It is better to prevent cramps than to treat them when they come but most times, these cramps can come when you do not expect them. You can prevent cramps by:
- Stretch yourself before starting any exercise
- Slow down when you notice your muscles are twitching and rest for sometime before commencing any physical activity.
- Make sure you are well rested, hydrated, nourished and fit before you start exercising.
Cramps is caused by an involuntary contraction of the muscles, it lasts for a short time but is very painful. One of the remedies to relieving and preventing this painful cramp is by using mustard. Mustard is effective in treating cramps but there are no scientific evidences that can support this claim but this does not make mustard ineffective. There are nutrients in the condiment that is anti-inflammatory and able to treat cramps.