“Cracking the pickle juice conundrum”. This is rather an unusual phrase that Dr Sivi Gounden, one of the brainchildren behind CrampNot, uses to describe the birth of the neuromuscular supplement. Before the whole story can be told, you will need an understanding of the actual cause of muscle cramps.
Since the pre-launch events of CrampNot, the Cape Town Cycle Tour Expo and the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon Expo, we have learned that many people still think that muscle cramps can be treated and prevented through electrolyte mixtures, salt tablets and even the concoction of Enos and Coke. But nobody can blame them, as we have all been taught that cramps can only be avoided through hydrating well and by making sure you are topped up with electrolytes.
Even though, lack of hydration and electrolyte depletion are key contributors to the cause of muscle cramps, it is not the main factor. According to recent global studies, the primary cause of the Charley Horse lies within the nerves. These nerves are all linked to muscles that allow one to control the movement of one’s muscles.
In the case of a muscle cramp, the nerve control gets altered through muscle fatigue. What happens is, when the muscle is over stimulated, a signal is sent to the lower motor neuron lesion (the nerve control base), which alerts the brain of the fatigued muscle. Thereafter, another signal gets sent to the muscle, resulting in a cramp or uncontrollable muscle contractions.
Now that we have understood what the primary cause of those dreadful involuntary contractions are, it meant that there had to be a different solution to the prevention and treatment of muscle cramps.
This is where Dr Sivi Gounden’s story about ‘cracking the pickle juice conundrum’ comes in. Just to get things straight, Dr Gounden is not a medical doctor, but he does have a doctorate in engineering. He is an experienced endurance athlete who has completed many endurance races over the past 30 years. So when it comes to endurance sport, he knows a thing or two.
Over his sporting career, Dr Gounden has witnessed many developments in regards to sports nutrition, especially with products that aim to treat and prevent muscle cramps. Yet, despite these advancements, nothing seemed to work. Over the past couple of years, he did some research, which lead him to the true origin of the muscle cramp. Dr Gounden then discovered that many of the domestiques in the Tour de France were secretly using pickle juice to prevent muscle cramps.
Check the video below to see how a college football team utilises pickle juice to get rid of cramps:
Through this discovery, Dr Gounden then conducted a crazy and risky little experiment on himself. He deliberately dehydrated himself before on of regular training sessions in which he cycled up and down Fort Klappekop in Pretoria , through hot conditions in order to induce a cramp. All he had with him was a bottle of the acidic concoction and his cell phone, so that his wife could track his movements just in case things went wrong!
His bizarre and slightly crazy idea worked! He did manage to induce a cramp, which was half of the bio hacking battle won. The other half, was to see if the Tour de France myth was true. When Dr Gounden drank the pickle juice, he said it was a little bit of a challenge to get it down, as he nearly vomited on himself. But once he managed to gulp down the liquid used to preserve gerkins, he experienced something remarkable…His self-induced cramp began to subside.
From that moment on, he knew he was onto something and that was when he consulted his team of biochemists and pharmacists to dissect the ingredients found in pickle juice.
At first it was thought to be the vinegar that was the key component in treating the cramps, but they soon found out that it had none of the properties in order to perform that function. Through the process of elimination and hours of research, they figured out that the mustard seeds contained extracts that prevents the process of altered nerve control, which therefore prevents muscle cramps.
The team discovered that cayenne pepper and cinnamon contain the same properties that mustard seeds have, which ultimately lead to the birth of CrampNot.
That is the story of how the pickle juice conundrum was cracked.
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