Does Mustard Really Help Relieve Your Cramps?

Depending on the cause of your cramps, you've probably heard plenty of folk remedies, but mustard might be one of the strangest options out there when it comes to alleviating muscle cramps. But don't get too excited just yet. Mustard is not likely going to target the root cause of your cramps: Researchers actually don't know why some people are able to ease cramps with mustard, since there is no lab-backed evidence to suggest that it would work (via Healthline). 

The type of cramp matters: Often, mustard is cited as helping with leg cramps, the type that come on quickly — usually after exercise — and feel as though your muscles are tightening up. These types of cramps often come on inexplicably at night, and may cause you to wake up in extraordinary pain (via Harvard Health Publishing). 

Most of the time, these nighttime cramps are caused by neurons misfiring and becoming overactive. Some experts believe that mustard works to alleviate these cramps in certain cases because it changes how your brain is processing different stimuli. The acidic taste in mustard (and pickle juice) may send signals to your body's central nervous system that essentially override the signals causing the cramps. It's also thought that the turmeric in mustard could be responsible for relieving your cramps. Still, research behind this is scarce, and scientists are still learning exactly why cramps happen and why certain remedies help.

And in case you're wondering, no, mustard won't help with menstrual cramps.

Is there another reason mustard might work?

Others speculate that because cramps can be brought on by an electrolyte imbalance, the sodium and potassium contained in the condiment can actually help your body rebalance, stopping cramps in their tracks. Again, there isn't any one study that points to this being the reason that some people find mustard helpful. Because mustard is high in electrolytes though, it's important to note that if you do try it as a cramp remedy, you should be drinking enough water to also stay hydrated.

While using mustard to help with cramps doesn't have much research backing it, some people swear by it, and as far as home remedies go, it's a relatively safe one to try. Unfortunately, when it comes to unexplained cramping, there isn't one simple cure or answer, so for most people, testing different remedies will be necessary. Staying hydrated and working in some gentle stretching can help — and you can consider trying a teaspoon of mustard when the next cramp hits.