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As a health practitioner I get a lot of people asking me about leg cramps and what can help with this condition.  It’s actually a common health complaint.

Diagnosing leg cramps can be tricky and the exact cause is difficult to pin point. Whilst usually the odd leg cramp can be endured without too much suffering, for those experiencing frequent cramping, the pain can be intense. Frequent leg cramps can also be quite disruptive to sleep. The good news is that there are a number of natural treatments that you can try to rid yourself of night time leg cramping.

One potential cause of leg cramps may be a deficiency in hesperidin. Hesperidin is a bioflavonoid that is sometimes referred to as vitamin P. Some medical research suggests that hesperidin, along with other bioflavonoids like citrin, rutin, flavones, flavonals, calechin, and quercetin, may be able to help prevent night leg cramps. In one clinical trial performed in Italy, researchers set out to investigate the preventative action of pycnogenol on cramps and muscular pain in different groups of subjects. Pycnogenol is a name for a combination of bioflavonoids that are obtained from the bark of the Pinus maritima pine tree and are known for their antioxidant properties. The study included a five-week observation period to evaluate the effectiveness of pycnogenol.  Four 50 mg capsules were prescribed with a suggestion to drink at least 1.5 L of water every day. In the first part of the study, 66 healthy subjects completed a five-week observation period. The research team found that the difference between the number of cramp attacks in the two weeks before the study and in the fourth and fifth weeks was statistically significant. In normal subjects, the average number of episodes was reduced from 4.8 events per week to 1.3 at four weeks. In venous patients, there was a decrease in cramping from. In athletes, the number of episodes decreased from 8.6 to 2.4. The decrease was still present at five weeks in the three groups, at levels significantly lower than at the start of the study.

Studies:  Young, G., “Muscle cramps: quinine derivatives likely to be effective but not recommended for routine use due to toxicity; vitamin B complex, naftidrofuryl and calcium channel blockers possibly effective,” Evid Based Med 2010 Aug; 15(4): 114-5.
Vinciguerra, G., et al., “Cramps and muscular pain: prevention with pycnogenol in normal subjects, venous patients, athletes, claudicants and in diabetic microangiopathy,” Angiology 2006 May-Jun; 57(3): 331-9.
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