Natural Muscle Relaxers: A Way to Ditch Prescriptions

Natural Muscle Relaxers: A Way to Ditch Prescriptions

If you’re searching for natural muscle relaxers, you already know about muscle pain and spasms. At one time, it was only common for athletes and labor workers to get muscle spasms. However, today they are a side effect of many stressful 21st century lifestyles. Spasms occur when you strain or overuse a muscle. They are also a result of muscles that you overstretch or keep in the same position for too long.

In many cases, a previous injury or even some diseases cause muscle spasms. Depending on the cause, the whole muscle, part of the muscle, or even neighboring muscles are part of the spasm.  During a muscle spasm, the muscles contract or cramp involuntarily. They happen rather suddenly, pass quickly, and can be either totally benign or extremely painful.

What Causes Muscle Spasms?

A combination of dehydration and lowering of electrolytes causes muscle spasms and cramping. Proteins within the muscles are needed to develop an organized contraction, which requires a balance of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium glucose, and water to work. An irregular amount of any of these elements may lead to the muscle becoming irritable, which then leads to a spasm.

Heat-related muscle spasms occur when a person exercises or performs stationary work in a very hot environment. For example, playing football in excessive heat or construction workers doing their jobs on a hot day. Any number of activities like these can lead to heat cramps.

Certain diseases like peripheral artery disease, which is the narrowing of the arteries, can cause muscle cramps and spasms mainly due to the lack of blood supply and inadequate nutrients being delivered to the muscles. Other diseases that are associated with muscle spasms are spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis (MS), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly known as ALS or as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Other illnesses that could potentially cause muscle spasms include issues with thyroid, kidney disease, anemia, and diabetes.

Spasms in the large muscle group that includes the neck, chest, back, arms, and legs, may also be the result of an injury. Meanwhile, muscle cramps in the neck, lower, and upper back might be a result of strain and stress on muscles due to obesity.

Affecting about 1% of the population, Dystonia is a disorder that causes a person’s muscles to contract uncontrollably, which then results in repeated or abnormal postures. It can affect one muscle or a set of muscles.

When a muscle spasm occurs, the muscles that are being an overused contract, resulting in acute muscle pain. There may be a feeling of tightening or even a bulging of the muscle. The onset of a spasm is usually quick, and most will resolve in a few minutes, however, some can last a minute or even a bit longer.

Most people can self-diagnose a muscle spasm, especially if they’ve recently overexerted themselves while exercising or working, most notably in a warm or hot environment. They typically resolve themselves by gently stretching out the affected muscle and may be prevented with drinking plenty of fluids. If doing any type of activity, it is recommended to stretch and warm up the muscles beforehand.

If further treatment is needed for muscle spasms, doctors usually recommend prescription muscle relaxers to help.

What Are Muscle Relaxers?

In addition to physical therapy and rest, muscle relaxants are to ease acute pain resulting from muscle spasms. Most people take some kind of muscle relaxer in their lifetime. It’s usually to alleviate discomfort or pain associated with muscle pain or spasms. They work by sedating the irritated nerve(s) or by temporarily blocking the pain signals to the brain. For some, they work, but for many, natural muscle relaxers are a better alternative and here’s why.

In this modern time, many doctors stop to think before prescribing muscle relaxers. That’s because, compared to NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Advil or Motrin, muscle relaxers do not work better to treat muscle spasms. Plus, they have more side effects and easily become habit-forming.  Some of the more common side effects of muscle relaxers are headache, nervousness, low blood pressure, dizziness, drowsiness, and liver damage.

Prescription muscle relaxers have a sedative-like effect, which often makes staying alert difficult. It is extremely important to avoid drinking alcohol or taking sleeping aids when using muscle relaxers. Additionally, some people become addicted to muscle relaxants. This happens when taken for an extended period of time or if they take more than the prescribed amount. If someone experiences addiction they will usually go through withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it. Those symptoms may include anxiety, vomiting, and insomnia. All this adds up to natural muscle relaxers being a much better choice.

Because of the reasons above, more people turn to natural muscle relaxers as a better alternative. In addition to minimal side effects, natural muscle relaxers do not come with the risk of addiction. Today, there are lots of natural muscle relaxers from which to choose.  However, the choices get confusing, so here is a list of many of the most popular natural muscle relaxers on the market today. Hopefully, this will help you with your research and you will be on your way to a happier, more relaxing experience.

Popular Natural Muscle Relaxers

Chamomile Natural Muscle Relaxers

Chamomile

Chamomile is an herb that has been used for thousands of years to treat many ailments, including muscle spasms. Interestingly, it contains 36 anti-inflammatory properties called flavonoids. Additionally, it is taken as a brewed tea or applied as an essential oil directly massaged onto the affected muscles. Moreover, this herb, when you use it in tea or topically as a cream, shows no side effects. What’s really nice is that it is a great tool to add to your natural muscle relaxers arsenal.

Anti-Oxidant Rich Fruits

Cherries have long been known to hold anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in anti-oxidants. The antioxidants found in cherries help the muscles relax naturally. Moreover, according to a 2018 study, cherries help reduce muscle damage and pain from vigorous exercise.

Another fruit that is excellent in anti-oxidants is blueberries. In fact, of the common fruits and vegetables, they have the highest antioxidant levels. They also contain polyphenols, which is a compound that has anti-inflammatory effects. A recent study suggests that drinking a blueberry smoothie before and after exercise helps speed up recovery from muscle damage. With the powers of the antioxidants in blueberries, they also help to decrease stress and inflammation of the muscles as well. This makes them one of the best natural muscle relaxers around.

One of the healthiest fruits on Earth is the pomegranate. The potent compounds found in the pomegranate have powerful medicinal qualities. Interestingly, one of those compounds is punicalagin. Found in the juice and peel of the fruit, punicalagin are very potent anti-oxidants. In fact, punicalagin are so potent that they contain 3 times the antioxidants than green tea or red wine. Moreover, pomegranates also contain anti-inflammatory characteristics. In fact, a recent study on weightlifters shows that drinking pomegranate juice speeds up recovery from strenuous workouts.

Spices and Herbs

Rosemary is more than just a delicious aromatic herb for cooking. Rather, its anti-inflammatory properties are highly effective and need to be in your natural muscle relaxers toolbox. It is also ideal for those people who experience muscle pains as a result of rheumatism or arthritis. Additionally, women who suffer from menstrual cramps find relief in this herb. It is taken one of two ways: by adding drops of rosemary oil to a glass of water, or by adding the herb as a garnish to foods.

Believe it or not, catnip is another powerful natural muscle relaxer. Even though most people only know it as a playful treat for cats, catnip is actually part of the mint family and has been used for hundreds of years by folk healers. Catnip in humans has a calming effect, the very opposite of a cat’s reaction. Moreover, it is yet another one of the many natural muscle relaxers. To use, it’s best to brew it for a cup of tea. Because catnip is more of a relaxing agent, it is wise to take it in the evening before bedtime. Please note that pregnant women should not take it as it has shown to cause premature labor.

There is also a compound found in cayenne pepper called capsaicin that occurs naturally in the fleshy parts of the peppers. This is what gives the peppers their hot and spicy taste. But capsaicin is also known as one of the most effective natural muscle relaxers. It is often recommended to people who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Moreover, most get through eating spicy food or in a capsule form. However, direct application to the affected muscles with cayenne pepper cream is the best and most effective approach.

Additionally, curcumin is an anti-inflammatory compound that is found in spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric. Recent research shows that by taking curcumin, inflammation markers may lower after exercise.

Protein

There’s something to be said for the philosophy of adding genuine replacement parts to the body. In that vein, another food source to help combat muscle spasms is protein. With the right amount of protein in your diet, muscle inflammation after exercise is lower. A recent study involving novice marathon runners shows that runners who receive both carbohydrates and protein during a race feel less muscle soreness in the 72 hours afterward in comparison to runners who only take carbohydrates. That’s part of the reason why protein shakes are so popular with athletes and people who do intense workouts. So, if you’re looking for natural muscle relaxers, protein shakes are a good place to start.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin D is found in milk, fish, and eggs, and it may be lacking in people who experience regular muscle spasms and pain. It is taken as a supplement, and of course, Vitamin D can be absorbed by simply getting enough exposure to sunlight. If you suffer from spasms, cramps, or other muscle discomforts, you must get more vitamin D.

Of all the minerals found in the human body, magnesium is among the most common and important. It plays a vital role in the overall health of both body and brain. It is also a good option for those people who suffer from muscle pain. Lactate builds up in the muscles during a workout and may cause pain, cramps, and spasms. However, magnesium moves blood sugar into the muscles to get rid of the lactate build-up and to avoid cramps. Magnesium is naturally found in a long list of foods that includes brown rice, avocados, almonds, spinach, pumpkin seeds, legumes, and bananas. It is a wonderful addition to your natural muscle relaxers and it is also taken as a vitamin supplement.

According to a 2018 review, another popular and effective home remedy for muscle pain is peppermint oil. Peppermint oil is taken orally or by using it topically on the affected muscles, and the pleasant smell helps with stress as well. As one of the most effective natural muscle relaxers, peppermint oil is also pleasant smelling and easy to apply.

CBD Oil

The “new kid on the block” for people who suffer from chronic pain, including muscle pain, is CBD oil.  The oil is derived from the hemp plant that contains two anti-inflammatory chemicals that may act as a muscle relaxer. Delta-limonene is an anti-anxiety compound that is found in citrus fruits. Another agent is beta-myrcene, which has anti-inflammatory and analgesic benefits. Interestingly, it is in mangos, thyme, and lemongrass. Because CBD might have interactions with other medications, it is best to consult your doctor before use.

Physical Therapies

A deep tissue massage by a licensed massage therapist helps tired muscles. It is also a powerful alternative to taking prescription muscle relaxers. However, to get the benefits of a deep tissue massage, the pressure should be firm without causing any pain.

Another all-natural method to help tired, tight muscles is to get an adjustment from a chiropractor. With an adjustment, the chiropractor gets the spine back into alignment. Incredibly, once they do the shifts, the pain will become less, especially any pain in the neck and back. Moreover, the surrounding muscles will then begin to relax once the pain felt before will quickly dissipate.

Next, the best way to heal and relax muscles is rest. Additionally, drinking water, sleeping well, and keeping the muscles in good shape is important.  Finally, for immediate relief from pain, use either an ice pack or heating pad on the muscle. Many people also alternate hot and cold compresses on the affected areas.

Conclusion

Muscle spasms are common and happen to almost anyone. Of course, over-the-counter treatments like Advil or Motrin help. But, in many instances, natural muscle relaxers work well to ease the pain from muscle spasms. Moreover, even though the prescription muscle relaxants help, they come with hefty price tags and serious side effects. They also have the risk of addiction from long-term or overuse. That’s why more people turn to alternative, natural muscle relaxers for their pain. Therefore, do your research and consult with your medical professional to ensure the best muscle treatment plan for you.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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