(second of a series)
I was suffering off and on from nasty leg cramps at night. Nothing seemed to help. I tried exercising early in the day or late at night, stretching, yoga, both hot and cold. I took aspirin, but it made my stomach burn. I tried NSAIDS but my stomach rebelled again. I tried prescription drugs, but they made me groggy and stupid without stopping the pain.
Finally, a chef in a Chinese restaurant told me that some people get muscle cramps and migraines from tomatoes, eggplant and other vegetables in the nightshade family.
TOMATOES, in any and every form, contain a lot of the chemical MSG (monosodium glutamate) which some Chinese restaurants and food manufacturers add to bland food to make it taste fresher and better. It’s in lots of soups and chip dips and other prepared foods.
No tomatoes? Yes, I know, who wants to eat French fries without catsup, or spaghetti or pizza without marinara sauce. If you get leg or muscle cramps or migraine headaches, you may learn to hate tomatoes. Try dipping your fries in mayo like they do in Holland, or maybe green salsa (no tomatoes in it). And stay away from eggplant and peppers for a few days, because they are in the same family as tomatoes and eggplant gives me leg cramps, too.
Believe me, it’s not so easy to avoid tomatoes. They are added to an amazing number of foods, but if you really avoid them for a few days, you may find you don’t need any type of pain meds and you never get leg cramps.
I would never eat those things again.
If I find myself with leg cramps, I have another cure for you to try. I always have watermelon, a powerful anti-inflammatory, in the fridge or freezer. If I can’t sleep because of leg cramps, I have a four to six ounces of fresh watermelon or one of the Mexican style watermelon popsicles that are almost all fruit.
Believe me, this is an amazingly effective cure. Some people rely on pineapple, blueberries or other anti-inflammatory fruits, but watermelon works like a charm for me. Nothing else is anywhere near as effective. There are lists of anti-inflammatory fruits on line. Try your favorites, or stick with watermelon if it works for you.
I can literally be in bed, asleep, and those leg cramps will start. They’ll wake me from a sound sleep and will not go away. If I get up, eat a small serving of watermelon (too much and you’ll be getting up over and over to pee, since it’s also a diuretic), within twenty minutes the pain is gone and I can go back to sleep.
So, you may not need those expensive prescription pain killers for “restless leg syndrome” after all. Watermelon and avoiding tomatoes and eggplant may work just as well for you, and save you a lot of time and money chasing a disease you don’t have. Remember, lots of foods are slightly poisonous or cause reactions like leg cramps. It’s not a “true” allergy, but it makes us miserable.
If you discover some food that makes you have headaches or muscle pain, please let me know.
Photo credit: from a painting by Spring Bright