You’ve been working hard in the garden, in the gym or participating in your favorite sport and your muscles are feeling stiff and achy. Before you reach for one of the many conventional anti-inflammatory medications on offer, it’s worth taking a minute to consider the problems that you may encounter as a result. Research suggests that digestive discomfort, digestive ulcers, cardiovascular complications and stroke may be associated with the long term use of conventional anti-inflammatory medication. If this makes for alarming reading, don’t worry. Nature has provided us with alternative herbal remedies that can deal with muscle aches and pains without the negative side effects.
Arnica Montana is a herb with a traditional use for treating bruises and tissue damage. It is an excellent remedy, trusted through the ages. Consider the benefits of using arnica in the form of a gel as opposed to a conventional medication. It works as well as medication such as ibuprofen but has none of the side effects. It works quickly, absorbs easily, it is convenient to use and continues to work no matter how long you take it for. It can be used in the treatment of many conditions – rheumatism, arthritis, sports injuries such as sprains and strains, and lumbago.
Inflammation is a common symptom in all these conditions, often causing intense pain and incurring further symptoms such as loss of sleep. Inflammation is a useful part of the body’s defence mechanism. However, if the inflammatory response is prolonged it can become a debilitating part of the disease process instead of the healing process. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury causing an increase of blood flow to the tissues of the affected area. The area reddens and becomes painful. Applying arnica sparingly, in the form of a gel, to the affected area and massaging it in gently will help to reduce inflammation and in turn reduce pain. It should, however, only be used on unbroken skin.
Another herb well known for its beneficial effect on pain caused by inflammation is Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum). Basically, it can be used for any condition where there is inflammatory pain. Taken internally as a tincture, Devil’s Claw reaches all those painful parts from inside. One of the many benefits of this herb is that it rarely causes stomach upsets. Another plus is that it can be used long term – long term is usually necessary with musculoskeletal problems – and does not interfere with conventional medication. The herb is best used for chronic conditions such as repetitive strain injury due to repetitive movement of a single muscle or group of muscles, and fibromyalgia. It is suitable for all forms of arthritis and has been shown to work well on gout or gouty arthritis.
Magnesium, which is present in foods such as soya, kidney and haricot beans, chickpeas, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, cashews, oats, brown rice, dark green vegetables, figs, dried apricots, bananas and buckwheat, is an excellent supplement for maintaining healthy muscles.
There are 650 muscles in the adult human body. They work quite hard irrespective of whether we are physically active or not. If they become injured or tired they make it difficult for us to move about as much as we want to and cause us pain. Should this be the case, the important thing to remember is that a sprained or strained muscle must be given enough time to heal to allow it to regain full health. Not to do so will only exacerbate the condition.
Doing twenty minutes of gentle exercise every day will go a long way to keeping your muscles healthy but it is equally important to make sure that relaxation too becomes part of your everyday routine.
Alison Cullen has worked in the health industry since 1987. Alison lectures & trains on health issues, and is often to be found quoted in health magazines.
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