Scientifically Proven Natural Muscle Relaxers To Relieve Muscle Pain, Inflammation and More

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Proven Natural Muscle Relaxants
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Muscle tightness, spasms, and cramping can all make your muscles sore and painful. Natural muscle relaxers can do much to ease muscle aches and pain that are causing your discomfort. Some of the best-proven natural muscle relaxants are essential oils, cayenne pepper, tart cherry juice, heat pads, and relaxing massages. These natural remedies can help reduce tension, inflammation, and stress in muscle tissue.

Natural muscle relaxers may help you avoid prescription medication or over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers. To help improve the effectiveness of home remedies for muscle pain, it’s important to get appropriate rest, stay hydrated, and do gentle stretching exercises.

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In this article, you will find out about the best muscle relaxers to use for tight, sore muscles. You will also learn about scientific research to back up claims of these natural muscle pain-relieving remedies.

What do Muscle Relaxers Do?

Muscle relaxers are used to treat pain that is caused by muscle tension, contractions, stiffness, or cramping. Skeletal muscle pain can affect the lower back, thighs, calves, feet, hands, arms, and abdomen. Muscle spasms can last from a few seconds to 15 minutes or more, and cause severe pain as the muscle tightens up. (2)

Doctors generally prescribe muscle relaxer pills or medication to help increase the range of motion and relax the muscle. (1) But your doctor will probably recommend that you first try over the counter drugs to relieve muscle pain before prescribing muscle relaxer pills. Over the counter medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) can help to relieve muscle pain and may prevent the need for muscle relaxers. If the muscle pain and stiffness persist, your doctor may be able to prescribe muscle relaxer pills.

You cannot purchase muscle relaxers over the counter as they require a doctor’s prescription.

Because prescription muscle relaxers are very powerful, and both muscle relaxers and NSAIDs have side effects, many people look for natural muscle relaxers.

Precautions (Side Effects of Muscle Relaxants)

One of the reasons to try natural types of muscle relaxers is because of side effects connected with muscle relaxants.

The journal Pharmacy & Therapeutics reports that some side effects of muscle relaxants include symptoms such as fatigue, a dry mouth, dizziness, depression, headaches, and liver problems. There is also the risk of withdrawal symptoms when stopping some muscle relaxant medications. (3)

The Best Natural Muscle Relaxers to Ease Muscle Tension

What are the strongest muscle relaxers you can make at home to help ease tight leg muscles, treat lower back pain, or release tension in muscles?

Tart Cherries for Muscle Pain Relief

Tart cherries contain natural anti-inflammatory compounds that can help relieve pain by naturally relaxing muscle tension.

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One study found that drinking tart cherry juice has a positive effect on symptoms of muscle pain and damage. Drinking 355 ml of cherry juice 2 times a day for 7 days before running a marathon helped runners to recover better from muscle strain and pain. (4)

Other studies found that drinking cherry juice for a few days before and 2 days after strenuous exercise helped to reduce muscle inflammation and restore muscle function quicker. (5)

A 2018 review of the benefits of cherries in treating muscle pain and stiffness found that they have a proven effect. Many studies have shown that cherries help reduce muscle soreness, increase muscle strength after exercising, and speed up muscle recovery. (6)

Drinking tart cherry juice is just one of the many benefits of this antioxidant-rich drink. Find out more reasons why cherry juice is so good for you in this article. For example, did you know that tart cherry juice is one of the natural remedies for gout?

Essential Oils that May Treat Muscle Tension

You can make your own muscle spasm medication at home using a combination of essential oils and carrier oils.

Why are essential oils good for relaxing muscles and treating cramps? Studies have shown that certain essential oils have pain-relieving properties along with anti-inflammatory activity. The soothing aromas of essential oils help adjust pain perception. Also, massaging essential oils into muscles can release tension, stiffness, and get rid of cramping and spasms. (7)

Let’s look briefly at some of the best essential oils for muscle cramps and pain.

Peppermint essential oil for muscle aches

The journal Pain Research and Management reports that peppermint oil has analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. Mixing a few drops of peppermint oil with a carrier oil has both a cooling and relaxing effect when massaged into sore muscles. Peppermint oil is good for treating both inflammatory and non-inflammatory pain. (8)

Rosemary essential oil as a muscle relaxer

Another essential oil for getting relief from tight muscles and muscular pain is rosemary oil. Research has revealed that rosemary oil has pain-relieving compounds that can help treat cramping and spasms. Applying rosemary oil as a massage remedy may help to improve the effectiveness of over-the-counter pain medication. (9)

Other studies have shown that rosemary has antispasmodic effects and helps improve blood circulation to alleviate pain. (10)

Other essential oils that are good for relieving tight muscles

Scientists have also identified other essential oils that are good for muscle pain and alleviating muscle cramping. For example, clary sage, frankincense, lavender, and thyme can all reduce skeletal muscle spasms. (11)

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Other essential oils for muscle tension relief include chamomile oil, eucalyptus oil, sandalwood oil, ginger oil, and black pepper oil. Read about them in my article about the top 17 essential oils for muscle pain relief.

Chamomile Helps Relax Muscles

Chamomile is a natural healing herb that can help to reduce muscle inflammation and soreness.

The muscle relaxant effects of chamomile are mainly due to flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory properties. Research has shown that chamomile is an antispasmodic herb with sedative properties.  That is one of the reasons why chamomile is used in traditional medicine to reduce muscle soreness. (12)

Studies have also shown that drinking chamomile tea helps to relax muscles in the gastrointestinal tract to reduce abdominal cramping. Chamomile tea is also one of the recommended herbal remedies for menstrual cramping. (13, 14)

Learn about more ways to benefit from chamomile tea and how this simple herb can help relax your nerves, improve your sleep and improve digestion.

Curcumin May Help Relieve Muscle Pain

If you need to reduce muscle inflammation and alleviate pain and soreness, then you can use curcumin as a natural relaxant.

A trial carried out in 2015 found that taking curcumin supplements can help to ease muscle stiffness and pain after exercising. Taking 2.5 g of curcumin two times a day resulted in a reduced sensation of pain after strenuous exercising and boosted muscle recovery. (15)

Researchers have also found that taking 150 mg of curcumin can have an analgesic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effect to help muscles recover better after exercising. (16)

Some studies, however, are contradictory. A 2017 study found that, although curcumin can help repair muscle damage, there was not enough evidence to recommend curcumin as a muscle pain-relieving natural remedy. (17)

Curcumin is the anti-inflammatory compound in turmeric. Learn how to use curcumin for more than just as an herbal muscle relaxer. Curcumin has many uses including promoting good heart health, boosting memory, keeping your skin healthy, and improving your digestion.

Cayenne Pepper (Capsaicin) as an Herbal Muscle Relaxer

One way to loosen tight muscles is to apply home remedies containing cayenne pepper.

Capsaicin is the pain-relieving compound in cayenne pepper and other chilies. This spicy ingredient is good for helping to treat muscle pain caused by tight muscles.

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The journal BMJ published results of a review into studies on the effect of using capsaicin as a topical muscle relaxant. Many studies have proven that capsaicin cream can treat the symptoms of skeletal muscle pain. This includes lower back pain relief, chronic muscle pain, and fibromyalgia. (18)

Some studies have shown that an 8% capsaicin patch works well to provide topical pain relief. Also, the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect of capsaicin could be a good natural alternative to over the counter topical pain-relief medication. (19, 20)

Capsaicin creams to relax muscles and reduce soreness are available online and can also be used to treat nerve pain.

Find out more about how to use cayenne pepper as a home remedy for muscle pain, high blood pressure, boosting your metabolism, and even healing peptic ulcers.

Arnica May Help Ease Muscle Pain

You can help release tension from sore, tight muscles by applying creams or massage oils containing arnica.

A study in 2014 found that arnica is a natural remedy for relieving muscle pain after exercise. Participants applied arnica cream every 4 hours during waking hours. The researchers noted that there was a notable reduction in muscle pain following exercise. (21)

Other studies have suggested that applying arnica topically is good to prevent muscle tissue damage and treat sore muscles. (22)

You can also use arnica as a natural home remedy to treat bruises naturally and to promote healthy wound healing.

Hemp (CBD) Oil for Muscle Spasms

You can use CBD oil as a natural muscle relaxer to reduce muscle contractions and ease painful muscles.

CBD oil actually comes from the hemp plant that belongs to the cannabis family of plants. Hemp contains low levels of THC which is the hallucinogenic compound found in marijuana. Leaves from the hemp plant contain a pain-relieving compound called cannabidiol (CBD).

One study in the United Kingdom found that taking oral cannabinoids helped reduce symptoms of muscle spasms and pain in people with multiple sclerosis. CBD oil is also good for relieving spasticity where muscles are constantly contracted. (23)

Find out more about CBD oil and how to use it for headache relief, improving cardiovascular health, treating depression, and managing diabetes symptoms.

Magnesium Muscle Relaxer

One of the most common muscle relaxer supplements is magnesium because it helps regulate muscle contractions.

A large percentage of your body’s magnesium is found in bone and skeletal muscle tissue. Your body needs enough magnesium to support proper muscle function so that your muscles don’t cramp up or go into spasm. Some symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include muscle contractions, cramps, and tingling. (26)

It seems that magnesium supplements for relaxing muscles may help in cases where there is an underlying magnesium deficiency. However some studies have not found evidence that magnesium supplements are effective for exercise-related muscle pain and inflammation. (27)

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Learn more about the uses of magnesium in helping to keep you healthy and if you can use magnesium for weight loss.

Valerian May Help Relieve Sore Muscles

Valerian is an herb that is well-known for its relaxing properties and helping you get to sleep faster. Applying valerian as a topical muscle relaxer could help to reduce muscle pain.

A study involving animal subjects found that applying valerian essential oil and valerian extracts had an analgesic effect and could help to increase the effectiveness of over-the-counter NSAIDs. (28)

Some studies have found that taking valerian root extract can help relax muscles that cause menstrual abdominal cramping. (29)

Pomegranate Juice Could Help Sore Muscle Recover Quicker

One of the natural muscle relaxer supplements that are effective for muscular aches and pains is pomegranate juice.

Juice from the pomegranate fruit is very healthy for you because it is packed with antioxidants.

One study found that supplementing the diet with pomegranate juice has a significant effect on muscle performance and promotes quick muscle recovery after exercise. Consuming pomegranate juice in the 2 days before strenuous exercise helped to reduce muscle soreness, muscle damage, and inflammation. (30)

Did you know that pomegranate juice has many other benefits for your health? Find out how drinking a glass of pomegranate juice daily can boost your digestion, heart health, and manage symptoms of arthritis.

Other Ways to Relax Muscles

It is also important if you suffer from painful muscle contractions to complement topical muscle relaxers with other natural methods to relax muscles.

Gentle stretching to release tension in muscles

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend light stretching exercises to help relax muscles and ease the pain away. For example, if you need to get pain relief from tight leg muscles, you can put your weight on the cramped leg and slightly bend your knee to stretch your calf muscle. (31)

Other doctors recommend holding the sore muscle in a stretched position to help treat muscle spasms and release tension. (32)

Further reading: Effective treatments for pulled, strained or torn calf muscle.

Heat or cold therapy to ease muscle tension

Another effective home remedy that works well as a muscle relaxer is to apply hot treatments.

For example, dip a face cloth in hot (but not boiling) water. Wring out the excess liquid and press the warm towel on the sore muscle to help relax it. The heat method works best for tight or tense muscles.

To relieve joint inflammation, muscle pain, and nerve pain, find out when to use heat and when to use cold therapy.

Massage for muscle relaxation

One of the best ways to really relax muscles, ease tension, and soothe away pain is by having a massage.

Researchers say that the easiest way to release tight muscles is to have a deep muscle massage. Massaging can help to relieve leg cramps, low back pain, and upper body muscle tension. (33)

Of course, you can make your own massage oil at home by adding 2-3 drops of a muscle relaxing essential oil (try peppermint, rosemary, or lavender) to a tablespoon of sweet almond oil or other carrier oil. Rub a few drops of the oil remedy between your palms and gently massage into your tensed-up muscles.

Get more massage tips in my article on natural home remedies to treat muscle soreness and get rid of muscle pain.

Stay hydrated to help prevent muscle spasms

Muscles can tighten up after exercising if you are dehydrated or haven’t warmed up properly beforehand. Therefore, it’s important to keep yourself well-hydrated if you want to avoid muscle cramping, stiffness, and pain after training. (34)

Warm bath or Epsom salt bath

Soaking in a warm bath can help to relieve aching muscles if your whole body is sore.

The North American Journal of Medical Sciences reported that warm baths help to support sore muscles and relieve tension from joints. It was also found that immersing in a warm bath before strenuous exercise helped to reduce the risk of muscle damage and muscle soreness. (35)

One way to use a warm bath to ease muscle soreness is to add Epsom salt to bath water. According to WebMD, Epsom salt baths are good way to relieve sore muscles after working out. Epsom salt baths are also good for all-over body muscle soreness if you have fibromyalgia or arthritis pain. (36)

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