The 8 Best Natural Muscle Relaxers
Have you ever taken a prescription muscle relaxer or thought about taking one? The name alone probably makes you think that muscle relaxers are helpful and harmless, but think twice — synthetic muscle relaxers (unlike a homemade muscle rub) are actually both highly addictive and dangerous when they’re not used as prescribed or intended.
The problem with typical prescription or over-the-counter muscle relaxers, such as NSAIDs, is that they do not heal the problem. They just shut off communication between your nervous system and brain so you don’t feel pain. However, the shut-off isn’t localized just to the painful and spastic muscles. Rather, the entire body is affected in ways that are not intended or desirable.
You might take a muscle relaxer for a pain in your back, but your arms, leg and neck will be affected just as much as your back. You might fall asleep quickly and easily after taking a muscle relaxer, but how do you feel when you wake up?
It’s not uncommon to physically feel like you got hit by a truck, and you’ll likely experience brain fog as well. The pain is also back, and now you reach for the bottle of muscle-relaxing pills your doctor prescribed and the cycle starts all over again.
Despite the name, muscle relaxers actually don’t act on the muscular system; rather, they work on the nervous system. Muscle relaxers are typically taken by people looking to treat muscle spasms, tightness and pain associated with backaches, headaches or fibromyalgia symptoms. But why take a prescription drug to relax your muscles when there are so many natural ways to accomplish your goal?!?
Best Natural Muscle Relaxers
Natural is definitely the way to go when it comes to relaxing your muscles. Lower-back problems are one of the most common reasons for the use of muscle relaxers. However, most of the time, acute low-back pain is the result of a simple strain and is a self-limiting condition that will resolve itself in four to six weeks, with or without treatment.
I want to help you steer clear of having conventional muscle relaxers become your primary method of pain reduction and relaxation. Natural remedies such as massages, chiropractic adjustments, essential oils and more offer relief without the unwanted side effects. Let’s take a look.
1. Arnica Oil
Applied to the skin in the form of an oil, cream, ointment, liniment or salve, arnica oil is a potent remedy for various inflammatory and exercise-related injuries. The positive effects of topically applying arnica have proved to be effective in reducing pain, indicators of inflammation and muscle damage. (1)
The thymol found in arnica has been found to be an effective vasodilator of subcutaneous blood capillaries, which helps facilitate the transport of blood and other fluid accumulations and acts as an anti-inflammatory to aid the normal healing processes. Arnica oil also stimulates the flow of white blood cells, which process congested blood to help disperse trapped fluid from the muscles, joints and bruised tissue.
2. Chiropractic Adjustments
Chiropractic adjustments are a drug-free and surgery-free path to heal pain naturally. In fact, chiropractic techniques can be even more effective at reducing pain than muscle relaxers, according to research from the College of Chiropractic at Life University in Georgia. (2) Chiropractors focus their attention on the health of your spine being properly aligned and, if there are shifts, helping the spine come back into alignment. When it comes to back and neck pain, chiropractors can alleviate the pain you’ve been experiencing by helping you get back to a proper, pain-free alignment.
3. Cannabis Oil
Evidence suggests that cannabinoids may prove useful in pain modulation by inhibiting neuronal transmission in pain pathways, making cannabis oil a smart choice for a natural muscle relaxer. (3) The oil has the ability to relieve chronic pain and inflammation, which is why it’s sometimes used as a natural fibromyalgia treatment. If you use cannabis oil, make sure it’s purchased through a reputable company that sells pure and lab-tested oils.
4. Essential Oils
A great essential oil to have on hand for a wide range of health needs is peppermint oil. Peppermint essential oil is an excellent natural painkiller and muscle relaxant. It’s especially helpful in soothing sore muscles, an aching back and melting away a tension headache.
Studies show that peppermint oil applied topically has pain-relief benefits associated with fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome. (4) Simply dilute peppermint essential oil in a carrier oil (like jojoba or coconut) or an unscented lotion and apply to the area of concern.
Lemongrass essential oil helps to improve blood circulation and can therefore relieve muscle spasms and backaches. Frankincense and cypress essential oils are also awesome at reducing inflammation and improve circulation, which helps reduce pain and spasms.
When your body sends a signal to your brain that something hurts, the pain is the body’s way of telling you to stop using that area of the body so it can begin the healing process. A prescription muscle relaxer disguises the pain and lets you move past the point of the body’s comfort, which can prolong the pain and even cause the pain to spread in the body.
When you get a good massage from a licensed therapist, he or she can work on the area of concern as well as your whole body, loosening tension and relieving pain. If you have chronic muscle spasms or pain, it’s ideal to get a massage at least once a month or more. The higher your stress levels, the more likely you are to have muscle tension and pain that requires regular massage.
A 2011 clinical, randomized study involving cancer patients out of Taiwan researched the effects of massage therapy on muscle pain and relaxation. Researchers found that massage therapy definitively improved bone and muscle pain management in these patients, showcasing the muscle-relaxing effects of massage. (5)
6. Avoid “Pain Foods”
- Sugar: Sugar is pro-inflammatory and increases pain.
- Alcohol: This also worsens inflammation.
- Caffeine: Caffeine is dehydrating and may increase inflammation. Limit yourself to no more than one cup of coffee daily, or cut back completely if you can.
- Trans fats: These fats increase inflammation and pain.
- Excess calories: Being overweight exacerbates back pain.Also, check out my remedies for fast back pain relief to see more food and supplement ideas that will help get rid of bodily pain sooner rather than later!
7. Epsom Salt & Magnesium
Signs of magnesium deficiency include muscle pain, fibromyalgia and leg cramps. By soaking your whole body or even just your feet in Epsom salt, you can increase your internal magnesium levels, which are essential to your muscles working properly and avoiding the need for muscle relaxers.
In general, healthy magnesium levels from Epsom salt use can help overall bodily inflammation since low magnesium has been linked with higher C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the body. (6)
8. Don’t Rest Too Much
Definitely avoid any movements that might have started your pain or seem to aggravate it. Taking a little more time to rest and relax isn’t a bad idea, but light activity will actually speed up your recovery time. So resist taking long television breaks on the couch and keep your blood flowing. Of course, disregard this recommendation if your pain is really unbearable or accompanied by other symptoms. In that case, visit your doctor right away.