Why Does Apple Cider Vinegar Stop Leg Cramps?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Do you suffer from exercise-associated muscle cramps or experience recurring nighttime leg cramps despite drinking plenty of water and taking electrolytes? 

Taking apple cider vinegar (ACV) is an incredibly effective way to get rid of cramping muscles fast. ACV boosts acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that regulates nerve cells and triggers muscle tissue to relax. 

Let’s look at how you can use apple cider vinegar mixed with water to avoid leg cramps and what other steps you can take to prevent muscle spasms. 

Calf muscle cramp

What is a leg cramp?

A leg cramp, also known as a charley horse, is a sudden and often painful involuntary contraction of a leg muscle.

Leg cramps can develop in any leg muscle but most commonly occurs in the calf. They typically last a few seconds, but some suffer leg cramps that can last up to several minutes. 

While muscle cramping is often triggered by exercise or stretching, muscle spasms can also happen without apparent reason or suddenly occur at night in bed.

In fact, a study published in BMC Family Practice found that almost a third of people aged 50 and older experience nighttime leg cramps. The authors found ”Sleep disturbances, which may seriously affect well-being and quality of life, are common among patients with nocturnal leg cramps.” 

While leg spasms can be painful and inconvenient, they typically are nothing to be concerned about. 

However, in some cases, cramps can indicate peripheral artery disease or kidney disease. It’s crucial that you consult with your doctor if you are experiencing persistent and recurring cramps to rule out an underlying medical condition.

Watch the video below to learn how you can use apple cider vinegar to mitigate cramping.

What causes a leg cramp?

Involuntary muscle tightening can be triggered by several factors. Here are the most common causes of leg cramps.


Certain medications can interfere with the transmission of electrical impulses between the nervous system and skeletal muscles.

Prescription drugs for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as prednisone, can interfere with normal muscle function and increase the risk of muscle cramps.

Electrolyte depletion  

Lack of adequate electrolytes is one of the most common causes of muscle cramps. 

Potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium are the four main electrolytes that play a vital role in many aspects of health. 

Electrolytes carry charged particles that relay signals from the nervous system to muscle cells which stimulate muscles to contract and relax. Electrolyte imbalance impairs this process and can quickly cause muscle spasms.  

Potassium is one of the most important electrolytes that, together with magnesium, regulate the contraction and relaxation of muscle tissue. Imbalanced electrolytes can lead to muscles that don't relax properly, resulting in cramps.


Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances are often closely related. 

When the body is dehydrated, electrolyte levels may be too concentrated, which disrupts normal nerve signaling and muscle relaxation. 

In addition, dehydration also leads to a decreased blood flow to muscle tissue and can cause a build-up of lactic acid in muscle cells which interferes with normal muscle function and can result in a leg cramp.


Although the pH of blood is tightly controlled and ranges between 7.35 and 7.45, other body fluids have a different pH and can become too alkaline. 

Electrolytes require a slightly acidic pH to function correctly. Factors such as stress and drinking too much water can deplete healthy acids, resulting in a more alkaline environment that increases the risk of muscle spasms and soreness. 

Apple cider vinegar

How does ACV stop leg cramps?

“ACV is one of the most effective home remedies to combat leg cramps,” says Dr. Berg. “ACV is a rich source of acetic acid, a natural acid that lowers the risk of muscle spasms.” 

Acetic acid boosts the production of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter that triggers the movement of electrolytes in and out of muscle cells in order to contract and relax the muscle. 

And, what’s more, acetic acid helps to regulate pH balance, which is needed for the cellular transport and utilization of electrolytes that maintain normal muscle function.

How to take ACV for muscle relief

Taking apple cider vinegar is easy for muscle relief. Mix one tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar with six ounces of water and drink once or twice daily to relieve cramping muscles.

Taking apple cider vinegar before bed may be beneficial if you experience leg cramping during the night. 

Electrolyte powder in water

More tips for reducing muscle cramps

While acetic acid is incredibly beneficial for overall health and reduces the risk of cramps, individuals with stomach ulcers or gastritis should not take ACV.  

Fortunately, there are plenty of other steps that you can take to avoid muscle cramping.

Stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes

Drinking plenty of water and replenishing electrolytes is one of the most important steps in preventing muscle spasms in the first place. 

However, it’s best to avoid sports drinks as they can actually cause dehydration and weight gain. Opt for a natural electrolyte source like sea salt instead.

Alternatively, choose a good quality electrolyte powder without added sugar to stay hydrated, support healthy muscle function, and mitigate leg cramps.   

Interestingly, research published in the British Medical Journal of Sport and Exercise Medicine found that drinking pure water after being dehydrated increases the likelihood of muscle cramps. However, if electrolytes were added, the risk of cramps was significantly reduced.

Drink kombucha 

Kombucha is a fermented tea with potent anti-inflammatory properties that has been used for centuries to support digestive health and promote normal musculoskeletal function.  

Kombucha is rich in electrolytes and acetic acid, the same natural acid in apple cider vinegar, which explains why regularly consuming this fermented beverage helps stop muscle cramping and pain.

Vitamin E-rich foods

Vitamin E

While leg cramps are often caused by electrolyte imbalances or dehydration, in some cases, muscle cramps are due to a vitamin E deficiency. 

Vitamin E promotes the uptake and utilization of oxygen in muscle cells, and a deficiency can cause impaired muscle tissue oxygenation, which can trigger or worsen cramps. 

In addition, vitamin E supports endurance performance and muscle strength, which may lower the risk of cramping muscles. 

Regularly consuming vitamin E-rich foods may be beneficial if you experience cramps despite drinking enough water and replenishing electrolytes. 

Vitamin E-rich foods:

Wear comfortable shoes 

Women who often wear high heels are at greater risk of leg cramps than those who wear comfortable and flat shoes. 

High heels can cause a permanent strain on the calf and can, over time, lead to a shortening of the calf muscle, which increases the likelihood of cramps and foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis.

The continuous muscle contractions due to wearing heels can also impair the blood supply to muscle tissue, resulting in a lack of nutrients, oxygen, and electrolytes, significantly contributing to muscle spasms in the leg.

Leg muscle spasm

Key takeaways

Leg cramps are painful spasms caused by involuntary muscle contractions, and more than a third of people aged 50 and older regularly experience muscle cramps.

Staying hydrated and replenishing electrolytes should be the first step in addressing muscle spasms, and taking an ACV drink daily can significantly reduce the risk of painful muscle cramping.

In some cases, leg cramps are caused by vitamin E deficiency which can easily be rectified by regularly consuming sunflower seeds, almonds, and other vitamin E-rich foods. 


1. Why does vinegar stop leg cramps?

Apple cider vinegar is rich in acetic acid, a natural acid that’s converted into acetylcholine. This critical neurotransmitter regulates normal muscle contraction and relaxation. 

2. What kind of vinegar is good for cramps?

All vinegar contains acetic acid, which helps to stop cramps. However, compared to regular white vinegar, apple cider vinegar (ACV) has significantly more nutrients, including potassium, an essential electrolyte needed for the proper contraction and relaxation of muscle tissue.  

3. How much apple cider vinegar should I drink for leg cramps?

To prevent muscle cramps, it’s best to take ACV once or twice per day. Mix one tablespoon of ACV with 6 ounces of water and drink immediately.  

4. Why does apple cider vinegar help with leg cramps?

The acetic acid in ACV promotes the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which regulates muscle function and signals muscle tissue to relax. 

Apple cider vinegar also helps to balance the body’s pH, increasing cellular transport and utilization of electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium needed for muscle health.


5. What stops cramps in the legs fast?

ACV and other sources of acetic acids, such as kombucha or pickle juice, can stop leg cramps fast. Staying hydrated and replenishing electrolytes also helps maintain normal muscle function and can ease muscle spasms. 


6. Why does drinking pickle juice stop leg cramps?

Pickle juice contains acetic acid, the same natural acid found in ACV. Acetic acid promotes electrolyte signaling and stimulates acetylcholine production, supporting normal muscle relaxation and helping to stop muscle cramps. 

7. How do I use apple cider vinegar for leg cramps?

To stop leg cramps, it’s best to take one tablespoon of ACV mixed with six ounces of water. If you suffer from leg cramps during the night, take an ACV drink half an hour before bedtime. 


8. Does apple cider vinegar relieve muscle spasms?

Yes, ACV helps to relieve muscle spasms. ACV promotes the production of muscle-relaxing acetylcholine and is a rich source of potassium, an electrolyte that promotes normal contraction and relaxation of muscle tissue.

9. How much apple cider vinegar should I drink for leg pain?

Taking one tablespoon of ACV mixed with six ounces of cold or warm water twice a day helps most people to prevent or significantly reduce leg cramps. 

10. What is the best home remedy for severe leg cramps?

Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances are the most common causes of severe leg cramps. Taking ACV, staying hydrated, and replenishing electrolytes are the most effective home remedies for severe leg cramps.

11. Does apple cider vinegar have other health benefits? 

Compared to most other vinegar, ACV is considerably more nutritious and has more health benefits than regular white vinegar. 

ACV has potent antibacterial properties that help to combat infections such as sore throat or mouth infections. Its antimicrobial effects can also help eliminate odor-causing bacteria, and many people use ACV mixed with water in a spray bottle as a natural deodorant.

12. Do I need to drink apple cider vinegar mixed with water?

Yes. Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic. You need to dilute apple cider vinegar with water to avoid damage to your teeth and throat. 

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