Herbs For Muscle Relaxation
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When you speak of muscle relaxant, it is also often associated with avoiding or relieving muscular pain that commonly results from cramps, fatigue, misalignment and muscle stress. And since your body is mostly surrounded by muscles, the chances of experiencing such pain at some point in your life are pretty much a certainty!  This explains why some 80 million people in the USA alone experience chronic pain, with related expenditures relating to the condition reaching an astonishing $70 billion annually. 
Relaxing one's muscles serves to alter perceptions of pain, reduce it or eliminate it. Painkilling drugs are usually used but more often than not, these only temporarily cure the symptoms and not the underlying cause, leading many to depend on them and over time, potentially acquiring unwanted side-effects as a result. 
Below are 10 of the most popular herbal muscle relaxers thought by herbalists to have potential to ease pain linked to muscle spasms or tightness:
10 Herbal Muscle Relaxants
While often used to combat insomnia,  research shows that the roots of valerian are also one of the most effective herbal muscle relaxers to reduce inflammation and ease pain.  Pain may include muscle cramps which can be alleviated by the antispasmodic properties of valerian.  In 2012, scientists explored the effectiveness of valerian acupressure (a combination of valerian aromatherapy and acupressure) on the sleep of patients in the intensive care unit. Results showed that the 41 subjects who received valerian acupressure experienced increased sleeping hours and decreased wake frequency compared to the control group. 
Together with passionflower, kava promotes muscular health  and pain relief.  Furthermore, kava is shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety. In investigating the effectiveness of 108 possible treatments for anxiety disorder, researchers in Australia found that kava had the best evidence of effectiveness for generalized anxiety. 
Experts believe that licorice works to decrease muscular inflammation and pain in a similar way as pharmaceutical steroids.  Laboratory tests that isolated a flavonoid from licorice roots known as isoliquiritigenin showed it to have tracheal relaxation effects on guinea-pig tracheal smooth muscle as a result of multiple intracellular actions. 
Another popular herbal muscle relaxer well loved for its ability to calm the nerves. Because of this, research confirms that chamomile is also effective to alleviate muscle spasms and tension which tend to worsen when one is stressed or anxious. 
In a recent study, 4 purified constituents of ginger were analyzed for their relaxant properties in both guinea pigs and human tracheas. Like licorice, ginger was found to cause significant and rapid relaxation in airway smooth muscles. This poses benefits for sufferers of Muscle Relaxation who experience airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation.  Another way ginger can be used as a muscle relaxant is through ginger bath which can relieve arthritic-related pain. 
Although some clinical trials on herbal muscle relaxants are in their preliminary phase especially when it comes to the use of aromatherapy,  and although these should not serve to replace appropriate medical care, it cannot be ignored that such natural herbal solutions have always been a complementary therapy for managing pain and promoting muscle relaxation.
Since time immemorial, lobelia has been widely used as a muscle relaxant. Lobelia is also known as asthma weed, pukeweed, gagroot and Indian tobacco. Considered as one of the best antispasmodic herbs today, lobelia plays an important role in dilating the blood vessels, decreasing the blood pressure, stabilizing the heart rate and in relaxing the muscles. Its lobeline content is what makes this herb very effective as a muscle relaxant. 
Lobelia also works by easing muscle tension and increasing the flow of lymph and blood. This helps in easing intestinal gripes, menstrual cramps and muscle cramps. During childbirth, some midwives tend to administer lobelia as a way to counteract pelvic rigidity. 
St. John's Wort
Also known as amber, hardhay or goatweed, St. John's Wort also makes an excellent muscle relaxant. Traditionally, this herb was used as a mild tranquilizer and muscle relaxant that helps relieve menstrual cramps. 
Known for its strong and minty aroma, peppermint is also a good choice of herbs that relax the muscles. Peppermint is capable of eliminating chronic pain and control muscle aches. When applied into the skin, peppermint produces a cool, desensitizing and soothing sensation that helps relax the muscles. 
Known for its antispasmodic and sedative properties, California poppy is a wonderful herb that can also help in relaxing muscles. Aside from its ability to improve sleep quality, California poppy is also thought to be effective in relieving pain, headaches, minor aches, neuralgia and cramps. 
More than its antiseptic properties, rosemary is better known as a good muscle relaxant. Rosemary helps in relieving pain, spasms, abdominal cramping and joint soreness.  According to research, this herb doesn’t just work as muscle relaxant for bruises and sprains. It also helps in relaxing the smooth muscles found in the uterus and digestive tract. As a result, stomach upset is soothed and painful menstrual cramps are relieved. 
Herbs For Muscle Relaxation - References:
 Use of aromatherapy as a complementary treatment for chronic pain. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10484830
 The effectiveness of valerian acupressure on the sleep of ICU patients: a randomized clinical trial. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22391336
 Effectiveness of complementary and self-help treatments for anxiety disorders. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15462640
 Isoliquiritigenin, a flavonoid from licorice, relaxes guinea-pig tracheal smooth muscle in vitro and in vivo: role of cGMP/PKG pathway. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18462716
 Effects of ginger and its constituents on airway smooth muscle relaxation and calcium regulation. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23065130
Article researched and created by Cathy Ongking and Elfe Cabanas, © herbs-info.com 2013
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