Leg cramps are painful contractions of the leg muscles. Dehydration, fatigue, intense exercise, electrolyte imbalances and certain medications and illnesses can all cause leg cramps. Herbal cures for leg cramps are generally either antispasmodics, which work to prevent the involuntary muscle spasms that cause painful cramping, or circulatory tonics and stimulants, which ease leg cramps by improving circulation through the muscles.
Cramp bark, also known as Guelder rose, is an antispasmodic that works on the nervous system. The scientific name for cramp bark is Viburnum opulus. It is a shrub with snowball-like flower clusters native to the eastern United States.
Take two to four droppers full off cramp bark tincture three to four times a day to ease leg cramps.
Ginger, or Zingiber officinalis, is an often-used herb around the world for its ability to soothe the digestive system. It may be surprising that ginger can also be used to treat leg cramps, because it acts as a circulatory stimulant. Because leg cramps can be triggered by poor circulation, ginger can ease the pain of these muscle spasms. Ginger is a tropical plant with fragrant, yellowish flowers. The rhizome, or rootstalk, is the part of the plant used medicinally.
Take two ginger capsules three times daily when treating leg cramps.
Ginkgo biloba, or Maidenhair tree, is a circulatory tonic that improves circulation and protects blood vessels. Gingko is a large tree with fan-shaped leaves native to China, but is widely planted throughout the world today. The leaves are used medicinally.
Take one 60mg tablet of gingko extract two to three times daily.
Like Gingko, Peruvian bark (Cinchona succiruba) is a circulatory tonic. Peruvian bark is renowned because it's the source of the anti-malarial drug quinine, but can also be used to treat leg cramps due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Peruvian bark is a large tree and a member of the coffee family. Do not exceed the recommended dose as the quinine in the bark is toxic in very large amounts.
Take ten to 60 drops of tincture two to three times daily.
According to the Nov. 11, 2009 issue of "Health Today Online," bananas, with their high potassium content, may be able to help prevent leg cramps, but the evidence is shaky. A better strategy may be to avoid dehydration and maintain proper electrolyte balance through eating a well-balanced diet.