10 Best Natural Muscle Relaxers

(Last Updated On: November 8, 2019)

Is there something wrong if someone needs muscle relaxers in the first place? Do they have too much stress in their lives in the first place? if their muscles are so tense they need muscle relaxers to calm them down? Do natural muscle relaxers really work better than chemical muscle relaxers? Are natural muscle relaxers really safe? Can natural muscle relaxers become addictive like chemical muscle relaxers? Let’s look at this further.

Causes of muscle pain and soreness

Muscle pain and soreness are evidenced by tightness, tension, hardness or a bulging feeling in the affected area.  Muscle pain and soreness have a few causes. It can be caused by a sudden strain, an injury, nerve compression and joints that are worn out. There are deeper causes to muscle pain and soreness. It can be signs of underlying health problems such as multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and others. Muscle pain and soreness should be diagnosed as soon as possible and treated. If not it could cause a lot of painful discomfort to the point it will affect your day-to-day daily routines. You can find temporary relief through heating pads and ice packs. But you will need a long-term treatment like synthetic  muscle relaxers but it is said they can have serious side effects to their use. The body can also become addicted to synthetic muscle relaxers. Some strongly suggest that natural muscle relaxers be taken. It’s said that natural muscle relaxers will calm the nerves,relax the muscles, and reduce stress and inflammation. But one needs to take some preventive measures as well for natural muscle relaxers to work effectively. Experts say you need to support it with rest, enjoy sound sleep, receive massage on a routine basis, and try gentle stretching but don’t overwork the sore muscle(s). Here are some popular natural muscle relaxers to use:

1.) Chamomile      

Chamomile is supposedly an ancient muscle relaxer that may get rid of muscle pain and soreness. It’s reported to have 36 flavonoids with anti-inflammatory properties which is a super combination. Anti-inflammatory properties are key in reducing inflammation caused by sore muscles and tight muscles. Chamomile, has a relaxing effect on the body to stimulate the muscle tissues to heal faster.  A study in 2005, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, reports that chamomile tea helps relieve menstrual cramps, in women, by relaxing the uterus muscles. A 2010 study published in Molecular Medicine Reports also sheds light on several medicinal properties of chamomile, including anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing properties.

2.) Sweet Cherry Tarts

Cherries are more than those pretty red bulbs that grow on trees. They also have more use than just sweetening pie crust. They taste good but they can also help with muscle pain and soreness. It’s hard to believe that such a nice tasting fruit can help with health issues as well. Cherry tarts are known to help soothe fibromyalgia which is a major cause of severe muscle pain throughout the body and for some reason it strikes more women than men. It has been recorded historically that cherry tarts can prevent or reduce post exercise muscle pain. There are studies to support this benefit of cherry tarts. Both studies were conducted in 2010. The first study published in “The International Society of Sports Nutrition” reports that if cherry tarts are eaten 7 days before a strenuous run that they will reduce or eliminate post run muscle soreness. The other study published in the “Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports” found that cherry tarts can reduce post exercise muscle pain as well. So, cherry tarts can be an effective natural muscle relaxer. Another benefit to applying muscle relaxers, like cherries, is they are much more cost-effective than synthetic muscle relaxers.

Natural muscle relaxers don’t have the nasty side effects some of the synthetic muscle relaxers can have on the body. Also, natural muscle relaxers will not be addictive like the chemical muscle relaxers. A lot of the natural muscle relaxers are substances that you would incorporate into your everyday diet anyway. Obviously, natural muscle relaxers contain all natural ingredients in contrast to synthetic muscle relaxers that contain all types of manmade compounds.

3.) Peppermint the Sweetest Muscle Relaxer known          

Peppermint sounds like a candy not a natural muscle relaxer. You will find natural muscle relaxers  coming from the strangest sources. Whoever heard of a candy to be known as a muscle relaxer. Peppermint believe it or not fits the bill. Peppermint is known to be very effectual in treating sore muscles, backaches, leg pain and tension headaches. The menthol in the peppermint has some strong analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties that helps to relieve muscle pain and inflammation. It also has been known to increase blood circulation which ultimately will eliminate muscle pain and soreness. He increased blood circulation will even knock off joint pain. Joint pain combined with muscle pain can be unbearable in some cases. Here’s how to take peppermint:

  • 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.

Never take peppermint oil internally or use it undiluted on the skin.

4.) Achoo Cayenne Powder

Of all the substances, cayenne powder , is reported to be a effective natural muscle relaxer.

Capsaicin, a natural muscle relaxer is found in cayenne powder. It’s function is to work as a natural muscle relaxant. Again, unlike synthetic muscle relaxers you can apply cayenne powder right into the diet and you don’t have to take any extra measures to intake this muscle pain reliever. Capsaicin has powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that offer tremendous relief from muscle pain, stiffness and inflammation. Capsaicin (a compound that is responsible for the pungency of capsicums.) There are a couple of studies to reinforce the notion that cayenne powder is a valid natural muscle relaxer. But before we talk about the studies there is one more important  feature to mention about this wonder ingredient. Capsaicin can even prevent the brain’s pain transmitters from sending pain signals to the affected areas of the body.

  • A  2011 published in the “ British Journal of Anesthesia” concluded that topical application of  capsaicin cream will work wonders in managing muscle pain.
  • A 2010 study reflects in the “Phytotherapy Research” that capsaicin cream applied topically will go a long way in the treatment of chronic soft tissue pain. This type of pain can cut deep into the muscles. Making every little muscular movement extremely painful.

Application of Cayenne Powder and Capsaicin cream

  • 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.

Be warned that you should never apply the above remedies on irritated or broken skin. If you do the pain will be greater than the original pain you are trying to treat.

5.) Soak in Epsom Salt

Epsom Salt is an age old remedy for soothing sore and stiff muscles

Epsom Salt is an age old remedy for soothing sore and stiff muscles. The best way to use(really the only way) epsom salt is to soak in a hot tub full of epsom salt. The secret to epsom salt’s success is that it increases the magnesium levels which is critical for healthy muscle functions. Because when you have a magnesium deficiency the muscle cramps and muscle spasms will greatly increased. You don’t need involuntary muscle cramps and spasms. Can you picture it you are running along in a marathon. All of a sudden a fierce muscle cramp or spasms hits your leg you will go tumbling. There goes your race.

The magnesium that epsom  salt releases is easily absorbed into the body. This absorption will then relax the muscles and bring healing to them Magnesium has been known to help cure pain and inflammation caused by an overactive nervous system. It also removes harmful toxins from the body which can cause pain and inflammation. How to apply epsom salt:

  1. Fill a bathtub with warm water.
  2. Add 2 cups of Epsom salt and stir it thoroughly.
  3. Enjoy this soothing bath for at least 15 to 20 minutes once a week.

6.) Rosemary Relief

Why not rosemary is useful in so many health applications. The aromatic herb rosemary has potent anti-inflammatory nature that can reduce pain and soreness by calming inflamed muscle tissue. It also helps to increase blood circulation which will speed up the healing process. The herb and the essential oil can be used as double weapons. They will treat headaches, muscle pain, rheumatism and even arthritis. There is a study to support Rosemary as an effective muscle pain reliever.

  • A recent 2015 study published in the “European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences” asserts that the use of rosemary in the management of pain that indicates a therapeutic potential of rosemary essential oil in combination with analgesic drugs. So you can derive benefit from the herb and the essential oil.

Use it like this:

  • 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 in 1 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.

7.) Victorious Valerian

It is claimed that valerian has been used or years as a natural muscle relaxer. It may be a little known muscle relaxer though. But if it works the word will get around. It has a long history of being used for neck tension and muscle pain. It is a natural working herb. This herb has volatile oils that help relieve muscle pain. It works very well to treat sciatica pain (The term sciatica describes the symptoms of leg pain—and possibly tingling, numbness, or weakness—that originate in the lower back and travel through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg.) which is caused by muscle spasms. Its sedative effect relieves muscular pain and encourages the body to sleep. It to has research support:

  • In a 2010 study published in the”Indian Journal of Experimental Biology” states that the whole extract and essential oil of valerian had significant analgesic effects in animals. Remember, this study was conducted on animals and the same effects may not be reflected in human subjects. Experiments conducted on animals are in no way definitive. The muscular systems in animals are quite different than inhumans. Valerian is supposed to enhance the working of aspirin in the body.
  • A later study in 2011 and published in the “International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics” touches on the effects of valerian on smooth muscles and on the severity of dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), mainly due to its antispasmodic effects. This study was obviously conducted with women subjects.

Valerian Application:

  • 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.

8.) Unknown Arnica          

The herb arnica also comes in the forms of, oil, cream, ointment or salve, as the potential to be a natural muscle relaxer. The key word here is potential. It hasn’t been widely proven to be a definite natural muscle relaxer. Due to it’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties it could be effective in reducing pain, inflammation, and muscle damage. If it proves to be effective in reducing muscle damage it would be one of the few natural muscle relaxers to heal muscle damage. If this benefit proves to be authentic this could be a very powerful natural muscle relaxer. It also improves blood circulation which will always speed up muscle recovery.

  • A 2014 study published in the “European Journal of Sport Science “ notes that topical arnica had promising effects on performance, pain and muscle damage after intense eccentric exercise. But the only drawback is the effects were noticed three days after post eccentric exercise. Is this really effective?

Here’s How:

  • 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.

Warning: Never apply arnica to skin that has open wounds or cuts. The resulting pain could be excruciating.

9.) Lavender will Work

Lavender is a very effective natural muscle relaxer because of its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties will help relieve pain, inflammation, and swelling in the muscles. The soothing scent of lavender may induce relaxation so the body can sleep. This may aid in the healing process. This herb is wonderful for treating tension headaches, sore muscles, leg pain, neck pain, arthritis pain and even joint pain.

How to Apply Lavender:

  • 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.

Passion Flower has antispasmodic and sedative properties which will cause it to work as a natural agent

10.) Passion What

This may be a little-known natural muscle relaxer but by no means will this take away from its effectiveness. Passion Flower has antispasmodic and sedative properties which will cause it to work as a natural agent for muscle pain. It will also help with premenstrual cramps and tension headaches. There are certain chemicals found in passion flower that relieve muscle spasms and joint pain. It can also fight stress, anxiety, and irritability which are common causes of muscle pain.

Apply Passion Flower like this:

  • 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.

Important warning-Pregnant women and women breast-feeding should never use passion flower.

Final Thoughts

We have covered 10 natural muscle relaxers that can help fight muscle spasms. Pain and soreness. They may also help with muscle cramps which are very painful. The only unverified natural muscle relaxer in the lot was “Arnica” but a study has shown it could have some promising benefits. Another treatment was shown to be successful in animals but not humans. This natural muscle relaxer needs to be proven to benefit humans as well.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.