Valerian has been used for years to relieve neck tension as well as muscle pain. The herb contains volatile oils that help relax your muscles and ease tension.
It is highly effective in treating sciatica pain caused by a muscle spasm. Plus, its sedative effect helps relieve stress and promotes sleep.
In a 2010 study published in the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers found that both the whole extract and the essential oil of valerian show significant analgesic effects on animals. The essential oil even increases the effectiveness of aspirin.
A later 2011 study published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics highlights the positive effect of valerian on smooth muscles and on the severity of dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), mainly due to its antispasmodic effects.
- Take ½ teaspoon of valerian liquid extract daily to reduce muscle pain and cramping.
- Another option is to drink valerian tea a few times a week. Prepare the tea by steeping 1 teaspoon of dried valerian root in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes.
Note: Do not take this herb during pregnancy, while breastfeeding or if you take narcotic pain relievers or prescribed sleep medications.
The herb arnica, available in the form of oil, cream, ointment or salve, also shows the potentiality of being a natural muscle relaxer.
Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties are effective in reducing pain, inflammation and muscle damage. Plus, it improves blood circulation to support quick recovery.
A 2014 study published in the European Journal of Sport Science reports the positive effect of topical arnica on performance, pain and muscle damage after intense eccentric exercise. However, the effect was noticed three days post-eccentric exercise.
- Mix a few drops of arnica essential oil in any carrier oil. Use it to gently massage the affected area a few times daily.
- Another option is to apply over-the-counter arnica balm or ointment on the area a few times daily.
Note: Never apply arnica on skin that has open wounds or cuts.