Got pain or spasms? Can an all natural muscle relaxer work as effectively as over-the-counter or prescription drugs? If so, what are the best plant-based muscle relaxants? Let’s find out….
The intense throbbing is back….
Your lower back is seizing up again. You’re momentarily paralyzed. It would be literally impossible to do the simplest of tasks right now. Bend over and tie your shoes? No way, you’d scream in pain.
If only you could have that part of your brain that registers pain surgically removed. Until then, you have a few options. Try to convince your doctor to prescribe you a powerful pain-relieving drug. But considering how addictive opioid drugs are, you don’t want to risk it.
There’s also the option of taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs). NSAIDs are over-the-counter (OTC) pain-relievers. Examples include ibuprofen brands such as Advil, Motrin and Aleve.
Popping a couple NSAIDs may temporarily get your muscles to chill out. However, these OTC drugs “have numerous serious, potentially life-threatening adverse drug reactions … their side effects represent a serious public health problem,” concludes the authors of this research study.
Even the federal government recognizes the dangers of NSAIDS. In 2015, the FDA required that manufacturers of these drugs strengthen the warnings on their labels. This is because NSAIDs can increase the chance of a fatal heart attack or stroke. There’s also the risk of kidney and liver damage from these drugs.
Best Natural Muscle Relaxers
So how can you get your muscles to relax? Whether you’re suffering from cramps or muscle stiffness, tightness, or pain, is going the all-natural route effective? Are there all natural muscle relaxants that actually work?
There are several pain-relief products that contain herbal ingredients. Because everybody reacts differently, it’s impossible to say whether one product is better than the other.
However, there are individual natural substances that are backed by research to relieve pain.
Let’s start with one that relatively few people are familiar with:
This substance is derived from a tree bark extract called “guaiacum.”
In this study guaifenesin was shown to be effective for upper back, neck, and shoulder pain. The researchers recommend taking this substance twice daily at 1200 mg per dose. This suggested dose provides relief of upper back musculoskeletal pain and spasms.
The research was preliminary but the results are promising and should merit larger studies.
Guaifenesin is actually better known as a cold and cough remedy. It helps loosen and liquefy mucus. And it may help people with fibromyalgia. In fact, there’s a popular “Guaifenesin Protocol for Symptoms of Fibromyalgia.” It was created by Dr R. Paul St. Amand, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine in Endocrinology at UCLA.
The protocol has yet to be approved by the FDA. However, there are many reports from fibromyalgia sufferers that guaifenesin works.
Only use guaifenesin under the supervision of a medical doctor. The doctor should be familiar with the Protocol.
(In addition, guaifenesin may help fight acute upper respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, and sinusitis. [SOURCE])
It’s always best to consult with a health professional before taking any substance. Even a natural remedy. However, the other natural remedies for relaxing muscles listed below are likely safe for almost everybody. (None are approved by the FDA as muscle relaxers.)
Ginko is better known as an herbal remedy for concentration and focus. But in limited studies (like this one), it shows the potential to relax muscles as well.
According to WebMD, “ginkgo biloba seems to be just as useful as conventional medications in treating leg cramps caused by a lack of oxygen from an inadequate blood supply.”
One of the top-selling herbal remedies in the U.S., ginko is also used for treatment for blood disorders and memory problems, enhancement of cardiovascular function and to improve eye health.
Researchers aren’t exactly sure how ginko can relax muscles. However, what is known about this herb is that it contains high levels of antioxidants and helps fight inflammation. When inflammation is reduced, this can help muscles relax. Perhaps this is one way in which ginko may act as a natural muscle relaxer.
Shao Yao Gan Cao
This is actually two herbs in one. Shao Yao is known in English as peony root. Gan Cao is licorice root. Together, these two herbs form a popular traditional Chinese medicine for fighting pain. In Japan and China, these two herbs have been used for centuries to treat muscle pain and spasms.
As with many other herbs, there’s not large amounts of research on humans. However, one study shows that these two herbs together relax muscles (at least in rats) [SOURCE].
In addition, this herbal remedy may help kidney dialysis patients. The kidneys are the blood-filtering organ. But some people need dialysis because of kidney failure. One of the most common complications for dialysis patients is muscle cramps. Shao Yao Gan Cao may help relieve muscle cramps in those receiving dialysis, according to this preliminary study.
Another traditional Chinese healing herb, Ge Gen is known in English as kudzu root. According to Chinese medicine theory, it releases the muscles. Especially in the neck and upper back. Ge Gen was reported in this study to improve micro-circulation. It also increases blood flow and may help prevent heart disease.
Arnica is one of the best-known plant-based remedies for pain relief. If you’re looking for a natural muscle relaxer cream, chances are good that arnica will be one of the ingredients. Arnica is also good for muscle bruising.
Again, if you’re looking for convincing evidence that arnica works, you’re not going to find it. There is one study on marathon runners that offers limited evidence it can reduce muscle soreness. That being said, there’s lots of customer reviews that swear by it.
Can eating red hot chili peppers deaden pain? One study suggests the active component in chili peppers, capsacin, reduces pain. Another study suggests fibromyalgia suffers may find it useful for pain relief.
And this research shows that it may also help with muscle soreness. Some brands of natural pain relief cream feature capsacin.
If you have pain caused by nerve inflammation, capsacin may be more effective than the other natural muscle relaxers.
What can’t turmeric do? Loaded with the compound curcumin, turmeric is a powerful inflammation fighter. Turmeric essential oil, according to this study, blocks pain effecitvely.
In Chinese medicine, corydalis is known as Yan Hu Suo. This herb is used by Chinese medicine experts to invigorate the blood, promotes movement of Qi (energy) and alleviates pain. Modern research confirms this action. A review of this herb in the journal Current Biology says that a substance in corydalis called “DHCB” can fight inflammation and ease the nerve disease, neuropathy.
CBD oil is becoming increasingly popular as a natural remedy for several different ailments. Some people take it as a natural muscle relaxant.
CBD is one of 100 or so natural chemical compounds in marijuana. But it’s non-psychoactive. It won’t get you high. CBD also is found in hemp oil. However, there’s far less CBD in hemp oil compared to marijuana.
Currently, there are only 3 states where it’s illegal to have CBD oil (Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota). In some states, you may only be allowed to buy CBD oil if it’s prescribed by a medical doctor. (For up to date state-by-state news on CBD oil, follow this resource.)
According to this review a combination of THC (the chemical in pot that gets you high) and CBD is effective for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. The patients were given an oral spray and it was shown to relieve muscle spasms.
Best essential oils for relaxing muscles
Interested in using essential oils as a muscle relaxant? This post reveals the best plant oils for pain. A couple of highlights from the post: lavender, rosemary and peppermint may be effective for shoulder pain.
Another good essential oil for pain is wintergreen. It has a natural substance in it that is similar to aspirin.
And finally, if you also have joint pain, read this post on All Natural Ideas.
Are there any natural substances, formulas or products that help relax your muscles or relieve pain? Leave a comment.