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Nightime Leg Cramps

Updated on September 27, 2009
RNMSN profile image

Barbara worked at Thomas Hospital Home Health and is certified for home health from ANCC. She received her MSN from Mobile University, AL.

The History of Remedies for Nightime Leg Cramps

I do not want to come acoss as being a very old nurse or anything but if I say that I remember glass syringes and autoclaving glass intravenous bottles would you consider me as old as my avatar?

(And the laughter swells...)

However, there have been so many changes in healthcare in my relatively short caeer that really; it bogges my mind!

Just a few that seem mundane but show the extent of change are:

  • mercurachrome, where is it? I know my Momma had two bottles...very old, really pretty iridescent colors floating around in the bottle...with heaven knows what else
  • octagon soap, the real one, not the one hecho en mexico, no offense but it is not the same without the lye base. It is the lye base that keeps my skin clean and free of acne...see my avatar? perfect example of flawless skin, eh?
  • stye, not the actul one in your eye but the eye ointment of the same name with boric acid in it. Man, did that stuff ever work! And I mean right now! You can still find stye; it has petroleum as number one ingredient. OK, I ask you, which would you rather have people? A caustic acid that if you get too much in your eye will burn your eye right then and you have to scream and stick your head under the running faucet of water to flush it out? Or, would you rather continuously, night after night, put a known carcinogenic, petroleum, into your eye that will not show any side effects for two decades? By which time you will be permanently disfigured from poking your fingers or whatever into your eye to mash the stye or you will be demented an won't give a hoot that you have cancer!

Enough of my wool gathering, (I sigh heavily with regret) It was just to show that things change, from small to large. Now, back to the gripping :) issue of leg cramps.

Uses of Quinine

"Quinine was the first effective treatment for malaria caused by plamodium falciparum, appearing in therapeutics in the 17th century" so states Wikipedia and "Quinine is an effective muscle relaxant, long used by the Quechu Indians of Peru to halt shivering due to low temperatures. The Peruvians would mix the ground bark of cinchona trees with sweetened water to offset the bark's bitter taste, thus producing tonic water" again as stated on wikipedia.

Side effects of qunine

Hearing impairment, increased mortality (death) from pulmonary edema, 'Cinchonism or quinism is a pathological condition in humans caused by an overdose of quinine or its natural source, cincona bark. Quinine is medically used to treat malaria. In much smaller amounts, quinine is an ingredient of tonic drinks, acting as a bittering agent. Cinchonism can occur from therapeutic doses of quinine, either from one or several large doses, or from small doses over a longer period of time, not from the amounts used in tonic drinks, but possibly from ingestion of tonic water as a beverage over a lengthy period of time. Quinidine(Class 1A anti-arrhytmic) can also cause cinchonism."

Signs and symptoms

Symproms of mild cinchonism (which may occur from standard therapeutic doses of quinine) include flushed and sweaty skin, ringing of the ears (tinnitus) blurred vision, impaired hearing, confusion, reversible high-frequency hearing loss, headache, abdominal pain, rashes,lichenoil photosysensity, vertigo, dizziness, Dysphoria, nausea vomiting and or diarrhea.

Large doses of quinine may lead to severe symptoms of cinchonism: skin rashes, deafness (reversible), somnolence, diminished visual acuity or blindness, anaphylactic shock, and disturbances in cardiac rhythm or conduction, death from cardiotoxicity. Quinine overdose can also result in a rare form of hypersensitivity reaction termed blackwater ever that results in massive hemolysis, hemoglobinemia, hemoglubinuria, and renal failure.

Patients treated with quinine may also suffer from hyoglycemia (especially if administered intravenusly) and hypotension (low blood pressure).

Most symptoms of cinchonism (except in severe cases) are reversible and disappear once quinine is withdrawn.

Now, before everyone gets all excied an thinks to themselve: WOW WHAT A BEAUTY


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    • itakins profile image

      itakins 8 years ago from Irl

      True,good point,I know alot of the old nuns in a convent near me think the corks are the best thing ever.Can't do any long as they don't feel compelled to empty a bottle of vino every time they need a cork!!

      Just in from church and remembered you and yours very specially there.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 8 years ago from Tucson, Az

      merchuachrome(never could spell it) and glass thermometers were taken off the market about '02 I think...cause of the mercury in them :) I've never seen corks used under the sheets for restless leg...why not/a lot of the older treatments depends on if the person thinks it will work...dont you think?

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 8 years ago from Irl

      HA!The good old mercurachrome..what on earth was in it?remember lead and spirit lotion!.....only saw it used once out of desperation,I think.Ever see corks,as in wine bottle corks, placed under the sheet ,for restless leg syndrome?It seems to work too.Ita.