Muscle Spasms and Cramps


Spasms and cramps affect both the smooth and skeletal muscles. Small vessels that enter the muscles and subdivide into permeating capillaries deliver nutrition to the tissues. Muscle contraction depends upon the conduction of electrical impulses via minerals called electrolytes (potassium, sodium and chloride). Other minerals including calcium also play very important roles. If nutrient supply declines in a local area of tissue, or if free calcium is not removed, the affected muscles can go into spasm. This can be brought on by long term illness, use of mineral depleting prescription drugs, liver or kidney problems, or any form of trauma or stress.

Potassium is very inexpensive and can be added with foods high in potassium such as bananas or oranges etc. Give it a few days or weeks to see if it works.

If potasssium food by itself is not enough, then you can also add magnesium, which helps to maintain the intracellular homeostasis of potassium and calcium, so in natural medicine circles it is said “If it spasms, give magnesium” (Wright J., 1990).  Simple addition of magnesium for a few weeks can often solve this problem. If that does not work, next try potassium pills, and then calcium. Alternatively, use a full spectrum mineral supplement.

When I was young, I used to get leg cramps and severe muscle spasms several times a year. After I began to watch my diet and emphasize nutrition in my late teens, I never had this problem again. Nutrient supply can also decline as a result of poor circulation, poor nutrition, inflammation, mechanical trauma, and overuse of pharmaceutical medications. We must address each of these problems individually.

A major and often overlooked cause of back pain and stress is simple muscle tension, which often precedes and sets the stage for nutrient problems by restricting circulation. One common cause is the postural stress that results from sitting at a desk at work for hours at a time. Simply stretching out periodically, or getting regular manual therapy can provide considerable relief.

• To calm muscle spasms with herbs and nutrients, use magnesium, potassium and calcium,  and after the problem resolves continue daily use of a full-spectrum product that contains all 13 essential minerals and Vitamin D.

• Manual therapy or local applications of heat can be helpful, and a tincture of lobelia and cayenne pepper can often provide quick relief.  TCM doctors recommend long-term use of siler root (fang feng or Ledebouriella divaricata) and dang gui root to treat muscle spasms. Kudzu roottaken internally is very useful for tension and spasm, especially in the neck and shoulders.

• Increase minerals in your diet using soups with mineral salt and chopped dark leafy green vegetables.