Quinine in tonic water & leg pain

Written by tom streissguth | 13/05/2017

Quinine has been used for some years for the relief of leg cramps, a problem that affects many people while sleeping at night. In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration banned drugs that contain quinine, except for the anti-malaria drug qualaquin. Consumers still seeking relief for leg cramps can find quinine in several brands of tonic water, including Schweppes. The quinine helps relax leg muscles.

The Remedy

Drink four to eight ounces of tonic water an hour before bedtime. Four ounces contain 15 milligrams of quinine, a very low dose. If you want to relieve the bitter taste, add some fruit juice.

Drink Water

Drink plenty of water. This helps the body avoid dehydration through strenuous physical activity or exercise. Dehydration is a common cause of muscle cramping, as is a lack of potassium, sodium or magnesium.

Side Effects

Watch for side effects. The FDA cites abnormal heart rhythms, blood hemorraghing, and other symptoms of an adverse reaction to quinine. You may also feel some nausea, vision blurring and headaches. Discontinue the use of quinine in any form if this occurs.

Relief of Leg Cramps

If a leg cramp occurs, stretch the muscle by flexing your foot toward your head. Or get out of bed, stand and put pressure on your heel. Massage the muscle and apply heat if the pain persists.


Do a stretch routine each night before bed. Press your foot against a wall to extend your calf muscles. While in bed, lay on your stomach and extend your foot over the end of the bed, flexing it to work the calf muscles. Avoid sleeping under heavy or tight covers.

Over the Counter

If tonic water does not relieve your leg cramps, try over-the-counter home remedies that contain quinine and other ingredients. Some doctors also suggest taking Vitamin E or a daily multivitamin that contains essential minerals, including potassium.

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