its the nerve is now hotshot anti-cramp drink for endurance athletes

Perhaps you’ve seen the ads for #ITSTHENERVE floating around Facebook, and perhaps you’ve even clicked on them only to find a tease of information about something coming. Well, this is it, and now it’s here.

HotShot is a blend of organic ingredients that “fix” cramps by focusing on the nerves, not the muscles. Founder Dr. Rod MacKinnon and friend, Dr. Bruce Bean, started researching the phenomenon after suffering arm-stopping cramps while sea kayaking. What they claim to have found is that cramps start in the nerves regardless of hydration or effort intensity. The next step was to find a way to stop them…

For the solution, we’ll summarize a bit of their origin story:

“Rod heard stories about cyclists … using pickle juice to treat muscle cramps (and) marathon runners who used mustard stirred into warm water to relieve their cramps. How could it possibly work? What did pickle juice and mustard have in common? All of a sudden it occurred to him that maybe it was the activating effect of pickle juice and mustard on TRP channels in the mouth … It’s the stimulation of the sensory nerves in the mouth, esophagus and stomach that triggers a response from the nervous system and calms down the motor neurons in the spinal cord. This was Rod’s ‘Aha!’ moment: The nervous system could be prodded, using those very receptors, to cue a cascade of nerve stimulation, also involving pathways from the mouth, esophagus and stomach, projecting signals to the motor neurons of the spinal cord.”

Basically, the ingredients stimulate the TRP ion channels in the mouth, which tell the overexcited nerves causing the muscle cramp to chill out, thereby relieving or preventing the cramp.

its the nerve is now hotshot anti-cramp drink for endurance athletes

So what are the ingredients? They’re not listed anywhere on the website, but we tested pre-production samples under the #ITSTHENERVE label. That one shows the effective ingredients to be Cinnamon, Ginger and Capsicum. The only difference we’ve found on their current website is a slight reduction in sodium (now 40mg) and a different thickening agent that shouldn’t affect taste or performance.

When we spoke with Pickle Power at Sea Otter this year, they said it’s really the ascetic acid in the vinegar that disrupts the nerve signal to reduce or stop cramping…not their incredibly high sodium content. There’s also vinegar in mustard, hence that product’s inclusion in folk remedies.

HotShot’s ingredients are different -there’s no vinegar here- but in my testing delivered near immediate results. The biggest test was on a long, sustained climb at the Mavic carbon clincher launch. I started feeling the twinge of a hamstring cramp midway through the longest climb, so I pulled off, downed a shot, and within minutes was pedaling back at full steam and the pre-cramp twitches were gone. I finished the rest of the ride (two-plus more hours) free of issues.

Yes, that capsicum burns the throat a little, but not too bad. I felt it’s, um, tingle with each inhalation for the next 20 minutes, but that, too, wasn’t so bad. It was actually a nice distraction from the leg burning climb. I imagine this product would not be the best solution for my two friends that get the hiccups from spicy foods, though. For everyone else, it’s worth a shot (pun intended). Suggested use is 15-30 minutes before riding and/or during riding if you feel cramps coming on. Each shot should last for 2-3 hours.

They retail for $35 per 6-pack ($5.83 per 1.7oz serving), which ain’t cheap. But if you’re prone to cramping and already dropped $40 or more on a race entry, it might be worth the insurance.


  1. Ryan S on

    How long does it last once taken?

    Now that the secret is out, someone could just pop capsaicin pills before a race (or keep the pills in jersey pocket like caffeine tablets). Capsaicin pills have been sold for years as arthritis relief.

    • Nick on

      Something in a pill form wouldn’t have the same effect – it’s the actual taste of it that triggers the receptors in your mouth, which communicate with your nerves.

  2. Reid on

    @ryan, the article says they last for 2-3 hrs, also there’s are other ingredients than just capsaicin. Also I doing think a pill would have the same effect as it mentions effects in the mouth.

  3. Tom on

    Huh, well salt pills have always worked for me on any hot ride over 4 hours. And by worked, I mean 100% worked. I guess that’s wrong?

  4. N on

    Wouldn’t a small shot of pickle juice be far cheaper? You could fill a couple of little bottles and toss them in a jersey pocket. So far, I don’t get leg cramps during a long ride, just when I’m in bed that night.

    • Jim Keltner on

      A teaspoon of mustard is just as effective. It’s the acetic acid in vinegar that’s in the yellow mustard and pickle juice. Look at some of the other ingredients in yellow mustard.

  5. dG on

    Hi Guys, first off, I do not work for this company. However I was part of the study group that tested it. I do get cramps on hot days after the 3rd hr of riding/racing. I did try it and it works, and it works *really* well. It won’t make you faster or make it hurt less; but you can make BIG efforts in the heat and not cramp. I am speaking from the perspective of a roadie, can’t vouch for others. The only drawback is it sits terribly in the stomach – but the discomfort goes away in about 10-15mins. But those 10mins are very uncomfortable. The thing is spicy and if you’re feeling queasy due to heat discomfort you might vomit. Bottom line: take it after a few hours, don’t over-exhert in those 10mins (say, skip your turn on a fast paceline and save the hill attack for 5km down the road), and you’ll be ok. But it does work if you can stomach it.

  6. Unk Guy on

    What kind of moron thinks “resets your nerve-to-muscle communication” in a drink with no ingredients or FDA is a good idea to try?

    • Mike W on

      I didn’t know that anyone else knew about the gracilis muscle! I also get nighttime cramp in that muscle even after short rides, so I’m very interested in Hot Shot. Maybe I’ll check out that nerve disorder as well. I’m going to order some HotShot and look out for your posts.

    • Crazy Horse on

      Actually, it’s not for weaklings, (deleted). Had both legs broken at work in the early eighties and had troubles with leg cramps ever since. Dill pickle juice does the trick for me.

  7. bleakhouses on

    I have a nerve disorder that is a disruption in the sodium/potassium uptake channels in my nerves; its called “cramp fasciculation disorder.” I have relatively constant minor muscle twitching in my legs and am very susceptible to cramps after 2hrs of hard efforts and excruciating cramps during the night after any hard training day. I mostly cramp in my gracilis, but often other adductors get hit too. I have been following this product since its release and ordered a 6 pack sample. I used the first one the other evening for a hard one hour trainer session. I did not cramp although this was not an effort that would guarantee cramping that night. I hope to give it good test this weekend and will report back here if anyone is interested.

  8. MBR on

    I downed two bottles of the beta product [It’s-the-nerve] during a recent 12-hr mountain bike race and it stopped cramping both times. The result, first place Solo Masters at Dawn ’til Dusk.
    BTW, it’s ACETIC acid…

  9. om on

    I don’t think it’s snake oil – they are both well known scientist and one has won the nobel prize. I have yet to try it but have been following their story from the start. I do get cramps so will give it a shot.

  10. ascarlarkinyar on

    I have read the case study on this and many more like it. Only works good on slow metabolism people. If you cramp easy or high metabolism this will not work.
    Too many con artist advertising snake oil these days. Take a pill, drink a vial and poof…everything is better.

    • Nate on

      Steve – I am in my 40th day of the Low Carb High Fat diet. I feel that my body has finally acclimated. But I get more cramps at night in my thighs than I have ever had. I get the same amount of cramping during swim team practice, very little during biking or running.

  11. Steve on

    I found that after cutting all fruit juice and sugar much reduced carbohydrates,from my diet, drinking only plain water, thigh cramps dissapeared almost completely on mtn bike rides..even hot days and one litre for 3 hour rides, in my sixties now. Not everyone would want to try it, but it works for me.Homeopathic sprays only work temporarily. Its the high carb sugar diet that appears to cause the cramps. Skinney is good !

  12. rideifbikes on

    Don’t hold your breath, it’s NOT A MIRACLE.

    First hand experience with it last weekend. I am not normally someone who cramps. Occasionally during long or hard events I will get the twinge fluttery cramps, usually after 4+ hrs of hard racing. Usually at only a few events during the year. Rarely do I get the debilitating Charley horse, large muscle group lock up cramps. I can recall it happening only a few times in 11 years of racing.

    I raced Mountain Bike Marathon Nationals this past weekend. Since Hot Shot had just become available for pre-order I got some the week of. I tried it earlier in the week, it didn’t taste horrible so I decided it would be a good preventative during what would be a long hard race in a hot climate. But if history was any lesson for me, then cramping at all during an event like this would be minor and late in the event. So for me the Hot Shot was a preventative safety net, not a necessary absolute. I did everything else as right as I could, ate well, hydrated (about 1.5 bottles per hour) and took ice socks.

    At 2:45 in I started getting super bad, debilitating, both quad, both calf cramps. I haven’t had cramps like this in over 5 years. It was all I could do to simply CRAWL for the rest of the race.

    So in my experience, you take someone who is not typically a cramper, at an event that is within their realm of training time and intensity, slightly un-usual heat, but optimal hydration, nutrition and cooling, PLUS a cramp preventative, and you get some of the worst cramps ever. It doesn’t add up.

    I’ll admit, I might be overlooking some other variable, but this not going to stop every cramp ever, it might for you, but it didn’t for me.

  13. Kevin on

    I found out why they call it Hot Shot! I drank the entire thing like a shot of tequila and nearly vomited. A warning somewhere would have been nice! I rarely cramp during rides. My problem is nocturnal leg cramps while in bed after hard cycling efforts. I drank one bottle last night before going to bed and was fine. Whether that means it works, I don’t know. But, I can say I had no cramps last night. At better than $5 a bottle though, it’s worth considering to bear the cramps. As painful as they are, I’m used to it. I can say that Scratch Labs Rescue Hydration Mix is a good solution as well and quite a bit less expensive. I did purchase a 12 pack box of the Hot Shot mix and plan to use and may continue to use it. However, I believe their pricing is a bit overstated in my case.

  14. Grant T on

    Unfortunately it didn’t work for me either. I did an 8 Hour MTB race last weekend and drank 3 bottles over the course of the event and was still fighting cramps in the last couple of hours. I’m actually fighting cramps as I type this after having drunk a shot of this about 10 minutes ago. At the MTB race I no longer had any shots with me when the cramps started coming on so I thought that might have been the problem. I started feeling cramps coming on a little bit ago after doing a pretty tough ride in the heat earlier today. Anyway, the product does seem to work for some people, I just wish I were one of them.

  15. Kevin on

    I was fighting cramps during my ride yesterday. I held off until I couldn’t ride anymore, stopped and drank 1 bottle of HotShot. I waited about 5 minutes and took off again. I rode hard as I wanted to test it. I had no cramps for about 10 minutes, then they came back.

  16. S Cohen on

    Do NOT buy. It’s is a scam. Took 1 small sip and had to spit out, due to fair taste and burning sensation. Customer service would not grant a refund for any of the product. I question has formal testing been done?

  17. M Winkler on

    My issue is, like others, nighttime leg cramps. I don’t tend to cramp during rides. I also have an issue with GERD (malfunctioning GEJ sphincter in my case). It sounds like the effect is short lived (not overnight) and I wonder about the GERD issue. I will try it and see. Appreciate input from manufacturers for treating the overnight cramping issue.

  18. Ryan Hayden on

    I rode 100 miles Saturday and tested this out. I took one before the ride, and one with 25 miles to go. And I felt one twinge a little bit after the second bottle, but nothing else for that entire 23.5 MPH, 100 mile, 4200 feet of climbing ride. And I am prone to cramping at anything past 65 miles. I was excited and very happy.

  19. Rick Waldbart on

    I was excited to try this product and I’ve got enough nutritional science in my background to sort of go along with the drift of the plan with this product but *nothing* prepared me for the amount of sugar and sugar substitutes. I carefully monitor my refined sugar intake and try to avoid the “frankensugar” substitutes. Just be aware that this product is loaded. There are other ways to get the sugars I need naturally. I don’t have to have it crammed down my throat in this way. If it works for you, great. Not for me.

  20. T Duggan on

    Does not seem to work as a preventative measure. I generally get cramps in my calves about two minutes into a run after the bike transition in a triathlon or a brick workout. I also get cramps in either my calves or toes somewhere bwtween 1500 and 2000m in the swim. The price of Hotshot is not inexpensive but if it prevents cramps, I’m more than willing to put up the $$. I have tried it twice now for both the brick workout and the swim. I have taken it as a preventative measure as the directions state 15-30 min BEFORE workout. If did NOTHING. Still got the cramps in the same place at the same time. I will now try it to treat, ie take it when I start feeling the cramp coming on. However, to me, this defeats the purpose. I want to prevent the cramp, not treat it. Bummer.

    • JViper on

      I too have used Apple Cider Vinegar (Braggs) cut with honey and water. It’s fairly pleasant to drink and doesn’t make me gag like warm pickle juice. It seems to help with my cramps as well, however, it won’t completely eliminate them on super long efforts. I am planning on giving Hot Shot a try as I’m looking for something to knock the cramps out cold. We’ll see.

    • N Semmel on

      T Duggan, I have the exact problem you describe and it wrecked my NYC Triathlon on Sunday. No matter how good I feel after the bike, after a minute of running the cramps come and they are relentless (quads, groin, calves). I also often get toe/foot cramps late in the swim too. I was told about this product and pickle juice strength shots. Have you tried those? You said you were going to try this product once you felt the cramps coming on. Any luck? Thank you!

  21. nancy d on

    apple cider vinegar works exactly the same way… been using it for years to reduce and avoid leg and foot cramps after or before riding or anything. buy it the gallon (Braggs) and it’s so cheap! Pour it in a smaller bottle and keep it cold or room temp. Just drink a shot glass or so full strength and if needed have a warm water back to soften the taste. It does the trick same as HotShot – just not as pricey.

  22. daryl on

    Anyone try just holding it in the mouth for a short period then spitting it out?? That would avoid the stomach issue. Also Oral mucosal absorbtion might be faster than the stomach anyway, becuase during hard exercise absorption is decreased– the body is shunting blood to major muscle groups, (the same reason that urine output is decreased as blood flow the kidneys is likewise decreased). I have heard from a number of people that pickle juice has worked well for them (and not $35 for a six pack, lol). It take voluminous anecdotal documentation for me to believe claims not back by a double blind, crossover study. It would be difficult to preform a placebo controlled study due to the distinct taste of cinamon, ginger, et. al. If the body’s lose of water exceeded the loss of the sodium the blood would become hypertonic,– not a good thing. I believe the pickle juice advocates recommend a glass of water after downing the small bottle. Has anyone compared this to Leggs* a mixture of calcium and magnesium lactate ( not disimilar to Maalox et. al). The TRP theorey is that the product stimulate ion channels to become more permeable to cations ( like calcium, mag’ and sodium), I cannot say the Leggs* did anything what so ever for me, but I would like to hear other reports. Comments invited.

  23. J. Craten on

    Tried this. This stuff burned my throat so bad I had to hold my mouth under a running faucet until I could breathe again. Thanks, but I’ll pass.

  24. Orrie on

    I had good success this past weekend with it in an Olympic tri. I cramp all the time, but not cramp at this event. Need some more good experiences before I call it a success.

  25. KB on

    I’ve been cycling and racing road&mtn for 20 years. I only cramp (quad & hamy) if over 60 miles race or century at 23plus avge. Been doing this one 60 mile race for years now and almost always cramp in same spot 5 miles prior to finish – usually an attack section. Done the pickle mustard thing. Took hot shot 15 min before race than another half at 44miles. First time ever I’ve not experienced cramps or quad spasm. I’m not a big believer in a lot of these scam type supplemental aids. But I won the race and avge 24.5 for the 60 and felt fresh at the end. Yes my fitness level was spot on this year but I can’t remember ever not cramping at that speed at that stage.
    The stuff flat out works. It’s a little more expensive than I would like but the results were great. My legs never got tired. I’m also 50 this year so any type of recovery aid is a good thing.

  26. Paul King on

    I have cramps all the time at night in bed and bike riding and thought of trying this expensive solution. My runner friend had cramps in training and while running the Boston Marathon. He was cramping during the marathon and sucked down a couple of plain mustard packets. Cramps gone. I was getting a severe hamstring cramp in bed two nights ago, got up, shot some mustard and a glass of water-back to sleep, no cramps. Hmmmmm…..


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