My go-to solution whenever I have any sort of muscle cramps, spasms, or pain, is to treat it topically using an herbal infused salve. Many herbs have natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that can be used to help mend your muscles and soothe the pain. There are many herbal options that work for muscle pain relief, with each having their own benefits. I have tried all sorts of combinations of muscle soothing herbs and found a use for many of them, to soothe my own pain. If you don’t have one of the herbs in my recipe, you can always substitute another that you might have on hand. You can also combine certain “hot” and “cold” herbs to create your own variations of Icy Hot. These are some of my favorite herbs to use in muscle soothing infusions:
- Arnica – Native to the mountains, arnica flowers have been used in European folk medicine for centuries. Arnica is a well known anti-inflammatory herb that really works miracles on sore muscles, sprains, arthritis, and bruises by helping to improve the local blood supply and speed up healing.
- Calendula – Calendula isn’t just awesome to help heal your owies, it’s also a superb anti-inflammatory and works very well in salves and bath salts for muscle pain and spasms.
- Cayenne – The main ingredient in this salve, cayenne pepper has a really ancient history dating as far back as 7,000 years ago. Naturally anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic, cayenne pepper contains a constituent called capsaicin. The reason that Cayenne works so well for muscle and nerve pain is because the capsaicin in it blocks a neurotransmitter, called Substance P (SP), that transmits pain signals from the nerves to the central nervous system. When cayenne is used topically, it can help relieve all sorts of pain, from neuropathy, back pain, muscles spasms, menstrual cramps, and even arthritis.
- Chamomile – Chamomile is such a soothing and gentle herb, great for use for all ages. Its natural anti-inflammatory properties make it great to helping relieve muscle tightness, spasms, and nerve pains.
- Comfrey – Also known as “knit bone” because of it’s ability to naturally heal muscle and tissue back together, comfrey is a fantastic addition to any muscle salve, helping to repair tears and strains, while also reducing inflammation, and soothing pain.
- Cramp bark – I love to use cramp bark for muscle spasms and inflammation, and is fantastic in salves for menstruation, I always use it in my oil for my Aunt Flo’s Soothing Salve.
- Eucalyptus – The fresh and cooling feeling that eucalyptus brings is perfect to go along with its natural anti-inflammatory properties and it’s abilities to calm a spasm.
- Ginger root – Used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine for all sorts of ailments including arthritis and muscle pain, ginger has undergone all sorts of clinical studies for its anti-inflammatory abilities. The warming abilities of ginger helps to improve circulation and relieve tension in tired muscles.
- Lavender – This analgesic herb is one of my favorite herbs to use in pretty much any salve I make. Lavender is great at calming and soothing muscle pains and spasms, and even helps to calm you down, which is helpful when your muscle spasms are due to stress!
- Lemonbalm – A natural relaxant, lemonbalm has fantastic anti-spasmodic properties. Lemonbalm is great at relaxing the body and calming spasms, making it perfect for any muscle mending salve!
- Mint – Peppermint, spearmint, and many other plants in the mint family are fantastic for use in muscle soothing salves. Naturally anti-inflammatory and analgesic, most members of the mint family help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. The minty fresh cooling effect can really help the pain go away too!
- Pine, cypress, cedar, juniper, birch – You can use the needles, leaves, and bark of any of these wonderful trees in baths, salves, and more to ease muscle pain and loosen stiff muscles. Many of them carry a mild analgesic helping to soothe the pain deep in the muscle.
- Rosemary – Rosemary is a well-known muscle pain reliever, and can help reduce swelling in strained muscles. The herb has four anti-inflammatory properties, which can help calm inflamed muscle tissue and speed healing.
- St. John’s wort – Well known for its abilities to help lighten a mood and ease depression, when infused into oil, St. John’s wort is a fantastic analgesic and anti-inflammatory. One of the best nervine’s around, St. John’s wort is also great for nerve pains and spastic muscles.
- Turmeric – One of the yummiest spices that gives curry its distinctive flavor and color, turmeric has numerous healing properties to it that not only help to ease muscle strain and pain, but also arthritis and joint inflammation. One of the constituents that gives turmeric its superhero status, is curcumin, which naturally helps to lower the levels of enzymes within our body, that cause inflammation.
- Willow bark – Naturally rich in salicin, a chemical compound similar to the main ingredient in aspirin, willow bark is a superb analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Used to help treat headaches, tension, muscle spasms, cramps, menstrual cramps, and more, willow bark is nature’s personal aspirin!
Make an Herbal Infused Oil for Maximum Healing Benefits
Making an herbal infused oil is extremely simple. All that you need is an organic healing carrier oil (olive, coconut, almond, grapeseed, hemp, etc.), the herbs of your choice, a mason jar, and some heat via the oven, sunshine, double boiler, etc. as long as it’s very low heat (100-140 degrees F) so that you don’t destroy the healing properties within the oil. When you steep the chosen herbs into your oil, you will be transferring those medicinal benefits from the plant into the oil. You can then use that oil in your healing recipes such as salves, massage oils, and even body butters. There are several methods that you can utilize to extract the herbal healing benefits into your oil.
I use this herbal infused oil in many different applications including a massage oil and in my Muscle Mender Salve. You can substitute herbs that you have on hand or to tailor it to your own muscle mending needs. This oil is fantastic to help with muscle pains, strains, bruises, arthritis, menstrual cramps, and more!
Muscle Mender Oil
- 2 parts Arnica flowers
- 1 1/2 parts St. John’s wort
- 1 part Ginger root
- 1 part Comfrey
- 1 part Peppermint
- 1/2 part Cayenne powder
- carrier oil of choice (I like to combine 3 parts olive oil to 1 part coconut oil for maximum muscle healing benefits!)
- Using one of the oil infusion methods of your choice, infuse arnica, St. John’s wort, ginger, comfrey, peppermint leaf, and cayenne into your carrier oil. My favorite method when we don’t have a lot of sunlight outside, is in a mason jar, in the warmed oven over night.
- Once your oil is infused, using a cheesecloth and wearing gloves, strain the herbs from the oil. Be sure to squeeze out every last bit of oil from the cheesecloth! You do not have to make a salve with this oil, if you do not want to. Keep this as a massage oil if you do not have the beeswax on hand. It even works well as a spot treatment, when you put this oil into a roll-on bottle.
- Store your Muscle Mender oil in a mason jar, sealed tightly, in a cool dark location, to have on hand to use in all sorts of muscle soothing recipes.