I was asked recently for a few ideas on natural remedies to help with muscle inflammation, and I thought I’d share those ideas with you. Muscle inflammation is no fun – whether you find yourself in pain from exercise or lifting babies over and over, you probably want to be back to your limber self in a hurry! Following are several herbs that will help get you on the mend.
Ginger: Ginger tea is one of my favorite remedies. It’s great for the reduction of swelling, and in Chinese medicine it’s used for its ability to move fluid from the body. (For this reason, it’s great for increasing menstrual flow if you’re so inclined, loosening phlegm, breaking up sinus congestion, and clearing the lungs.) To reduce swelling, ginger can be used for making tea. Take a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peel and chop it, and simmer it in about 5 or 6 cups of water until the water level decreases by almost half. Drink warm with honey.
Kava Kava: Much negative press has been surrounding this wonderful herb. I’ve used Kava for years without any problems. It’s one of nature’s most powerful muscle relaxers, and it will de-stress a Kava tea drinker in no time! Use about 1 tsp. dried Kava steeped in near-boiling water for 15 – 20 minutes. While I do stand by Kava’s safety, there are a few things to watch for. Don’t drink more than a mug or two of Kava – you can have too much. (The effects dissipate without longterm harm, but it’s not pleasant if you overdo.) And don’t drink Kava before drinking alcohol. It can magnify alcohol’s effects. When used wisely, very few muscle relaxers can rival this herb!
Valerian: This herb (pictured to left) is a great muscle relaxer as well, but it’s best used in the evening or when you are able to nap if need be. Valerian relaxes the mind as well as the body; it’s actually used in the making of Valium, but here you have the all-natural version. One teaspoon of dried herb steeped in almost boiling water for 10 or 15 minutes will help you relax, but beware of this herb’s notoriously bad taste! I liken it to the smell of cat pee; not pleasant but helpful enough that it’s one herb I keep in our cupboard at all times. Mixing most ickier tasting herbs with a little dried licorice root often curbs the bitterness. Or just plug your nose.
Cayenne Pepper: When you eat it, it hurts. But ironically, cayenne is a natural pain reliever! Try a teaspoon of cayenne in 2 ounces olive oil. Shake and use as an ointment rubbed directly into sore muscles. Of course it’s good to wash your hands well after use or you may be in tears for something other than back pain!
With a few herbal tricks up your sleeve, you can even combat back pain and muscle inflammation! Keep these herbs onhand so you’re ready when you need it. Because bench-pressing your kids isn’t easy, but the hugs that come with it can’t be missed!