At some point in time, most people suffer from muscle pain or soreness. It may be described as tightness, tension, hardness or a bulging feeling in the affected area. The symptoms can range from mild to excruciating.
There are several causes of muscle pain, including sudden strain, an injury, nerve compression and joints that are worn out.
It may also result from underlying health conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and others.
Any kind of muscle pain or soreness, if not treated right away, can cause much discomfort and even make it difficult to accomplish your day-to-day tasks without any discomfort.
Using heating pads or ice packs on the muscle can provide immediate relief. For ongoing relief, many people take synthetic muscle relaxants, which have several side effects and your body may become addicted to them.
Instead, try natural muscle relaxants that are readily available. These natural remedies help calm the nerves, release muscle tension, reduce stress and fight inflammation.
However, to help the natural muscle relaxers work, make sure to get rest, enjoy sound sleep, keep your body hydrated, do regular massage, try gentle stretching and never overwork the affected muscle.
Here are the top 10 best natural muscle relaxers.
Chamomile is an ancient medicinal herb that definitely works as a natural agent to get rid of muscle pain and soreness.
It has about 36 flavonoids with anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, it has a calming and relaxing effect on the body to facilitate faster healing of the muscle tissues.
A 2005 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports that drinking chamomile tea helps relieve menstrual cramps in women by relaxing the muscles of the uterus.
A 2010 study published in Molecular Medicine Reports also sheds light on several medicinal properties of chamomile, including anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing properties.
- Massage the affected area with chamomile essential oil to get quick relief from spasms.
- Also, drink chamomile tea 2 or 3 times a day to help relax sore muscles. To make the tea, steep a chamomile tea bag or 1 tablespoon of chamomile flowers in a cup of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain and drink the tea while it is still warm.
Note: Those taking diabetic medications should take chamomile in moderation and under the guidance of a doctor.
2. Tart Cherries
Being rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, tart cherries have a positive effect on muscle pain. As they help relax muscles naturally, they are highly beneficial for people suffering from muscle pain, arthritis or fibromyalgia.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reports that intake of tart cherry juice for 7 days prior to and during a strenuous running event helps reduce post-run muscle pain.
Another 2010 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports notes that tart cherries can help prevent post-exercise muscle pain.
Drink a cup of tart cherry juice to reduce muscle inflammation and soreness. Also, try to include a cup of tart cherries in your daily diet to prevent muscle pain.
Another great muscle relaxant is peppermint. It is very effective in treating sore muscles, backaches, leg pain and tension headaches.
The menthol in peppermint offers analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties that help relieve muscle pain and inflammation. It even improves blood circulation, which helps reduce pain and spasms.
Both the herb and essential oil help reduce swelling, relieve pain and eliminate inflammation.
- Drink a few cups of peppermint tea daily. To make the tea, steep 1 teaspoon of fresh or dried peppermint leaves in hot water for 10 minutes.
- Also, prepare a massage oil with 2 drops each of peppermint oil and sandalwood oil blended and 1 tablespoon of sweet almond carrier oil. Use it to massage the affected area as needed.
- Alternatively, use an over-the-counter pain ointment that contains peppermint.
Note: Never use peppermint oil undiluted on the skin or take it internally.
4. Cayenne Pepper
Capsaicin, a natural compound found in cayenne pepper, works as a natural muscle relaxant. It offers analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce muscle pain, stiffness and inflammation.
It even prevents the activation of the brain’s pain transmitters so that you do not feel as much pain.
A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Anesthesia notes that topical application of capsaicin cream for pain management is effective.
Another 2010 study published in Phytotherapy Research highlights the effectiveness and safety of topical capsaicin cream in the treatment of chronic soft tissue pain.
- Add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to 2 tablespoons of warm extra-virgin olive oil. Apply this mixture to the affected area. Leave it on 30 minutes. Repeat as needed.
- People who suffer from fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis can also use over-the-counter creams with capsaicin. Gently massage the affected muscle area with the cream a few times daily until the pain is gone.
Note: Do not apply these remedies on broken or irritated skin.
5. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt helps treat muscle cramps and strains by increasing your magnesium level, which is essential for your muscles to work properly.
In fact, regular muscle spasms and cramps are noticeable symptoms of a magnesium deficiency.
The magnesium in Epsom salt, which is readily absorbed by the skin, promotes muscle relaxation and healing. It even relaxes the nervous system and removes toxins from the body that contribute to pain and inflammation.
- Fill a bathtub with warm water.
- Add 2 cups of Epsom salt and stir it thoroughly.
- Enjoy this soothing bath for at least 15 to 20 minutes once a week.
The aromatic herb rosemary has an anti-inflammatory nature that effectively helps calm inflamed muscle tissue and reduces pain and soreness.
In addition, it promotes blood circulation to support speedy recovery. Both the herb as well as rosemary essential oil can be used to treat headaches, muscle pain, rheumatism and even arthritis.
A 2015 study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences approves the use of rosemary in the management of pain and indicates a therapeutic potential of rosemary essential oil in combination with analgesic drugs.
- Add 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary to 1 cup of hot water. Cover and steep for about 10 minutes, then strain it. Drink this tea 3 times a day.
- Also, mix a few drops of rosemary essential oil in1 tablespoon of warm coconut or olive oil. Use it to massage the affected area a few times daily.
- Another option is to add 1 teaspoon of rosemary essential oil to a bathtub filled with warm water. Soak in the bath for 15 minutes to relieve menstrual cramps or muscle spasms. Repeat as needed.
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.
Lavender is also one of the very effective natural muscle relaxants. It has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce pain, swelling and inflammation.
The soothing scent of lavender also induces a calm, relaxed state for sleeping, which in turn supports healing.
This herb can be used to treat tension headaches, sore muscles, leg pain, neck pain, arthritis pain and even joint pain.
- Blend a few drops of lavender essential oil with either warm coconut or olive oil.
- Use it to massage the affected area using circular movements.
- Then, take a hot bath with several drops of lavender oil to relax your sore and painful muscles.
- Repeat once daily.
10. Passion Flower
Due to its antispasmodic and sedative effects, passion flower also works as a natural solution for muscle pain. It also helps with premenstrual cramps and tension headaches. There are certain chemicals in this herb that relieve muscle spasms and joint soreness.
It can even help fight stress, anxiety and irritability that often contribute to pain.
- Steep 1 teaspoon of dried passion flower in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Drink this tea once daily.
- Alternatively, you can take 45 drops of passion flower liquid extract orally each day.
Note: The herb is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.