"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Does tonic water prevent leg cramps at night?

Ask the doctor.

Photo: Carl Rosen Currents/Thinkstock

Question It has been suggested that drinking 2 to three ounces of tonic water before bed can prevent leg cramps at night. Is it true?

Oh Tonic water—and the quinine in it—has been promoted for a long time as a cure for leg pain, although it's effective. Quinine is FDA-approved just for the treatment of malaria and is sold with a warning against using it to treat leg pain or muscle pain, because it could actually cause bleeding and heart rhythm disturbances. The risk increases. Tonic water comprises not more than 83 milligrams of quinine per liter, much lower than the five hundred to 1,000 milligrams in a therapeutic dose of quinine pills. Drinking a number of ounces of tonic water shouldn't be harmful, however it's unlikely to stop your leg cramps.

However, there are other things you'll be able to do. Since cramps are sometimes brought on by dehydration, you'll want to get loads of fluids. But avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, that are dehydrating. (Don't mix gin with this tonic!) Stretching in the course of the day or before bed may also help prevent them.

Once the pain starts, getting off the bed and standing on the affected leg could cause a miscarriage. Applying ice or heat and gently massaging the affected muscles may provide some relief.