Chronic pain is something that I have had a lot of experience with over my life as I have navigated stage IV endometriosis and adenomyosis. You will never understand chronic pain until you have lived with it, so if you are reading this and struggling, I want you to know that it is a complex journey to navigate but that solutions and deep healing are possible. I've tried everything from myofascial release to infrared therapy to cupping and so much more. For me, I believe that myofascial release (read more here) saved me from a hysterectomy and that cupping has been one of the most revolutionary practices for my pain reduction, and there is now science to support this too.
I've also thrown myself into the depths of research and trying things out myself to work out how to exercise around my pain flares and also how everyone's triggers are bio-individual, but I think that footwear and what you wear on your feet is a heavily overlooked component of the chronic pain journey too.
When I look back, I used to be bedridden for up to 14 days a month, so I had no other option but to find solutions. I have wanted to stay as far away from prescription muscle relaxers as possible because while many people think they are harmless and helpful, they are synthetic, highly addictive, and often dangerous. Just like with NSAIDs, they don't even heal the problem; they just shut down the communication routes between your brain and your nervous system, so you don't feel the pain which I don't believe is a healthy way to function in the long term. The problem is these muscle relaxants also work ALL over the body rather than just the area of pain. They impact us on such a deep cellular level, and interfering with my biology is something that I wish to stay away from because they deplete the body of glutathione and wreak havoc on the gut. Unfortunately I still the need NSAIDS on my worst days, so I counteract them by taking L Glutamine and IV glutathione.
Natural is the way to go, and here are my favorite natural muscle relaxers:
- First up, magnesium - probably the supplement you thought about first. It's critical to maintain muscle and nerve function but many people are deficient in this beautifully powerful mineral. Magnesium options (and how many types of magnesium exist) can be overwhelming, so I broke them down for you here. I personally only ever take Bioptimizers Magnesium (I take two capsules every night).
- Next up, chamomile - an ancient herb that has been used for decades to calm muscle spasms. It is packed full of 36 anti-inflammatory flavonoids, and massaging this onto the body through an essential oil can be great, as well as supplementing with chamomile tea.
- Cherry juice - now maybe this is one you probably haven't heard of before today. Within the marathon communities, it is thought that these are very powerful at minimizing running pain thanks to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that relax muscles naturally. A 2010 study linked here looked into this more specifically.
- Next up, blueberries and, in a similar way to cherry juice, they've been studied in terms of muscle spasms and cramps post-exercise. A 2012 study linked here, suggested that having a blueberry smoothie before and after exercise can help accelerate recovery from muscle damage.
- Cayenne pepper - this is a supplement that is often given to those who suffer from arthritis or fibromyalgia so is thought to be a powerful help for these painful conditions. This natural muscle relaxant can either be absorbed as a supplement or through your diet.
- Arnica oil - maybe used on your bruises as a kid, the thymol found in arnica actually has been found to act as a vasodilator of blood capillaries. This means that it acts as an anti-inflammatory by helping blood and other fluids move around the body. In addition to that, it also promotes the flow of white blood cells, which stop congestion and help to disperse trapped liquids from muscles, tissue, and joints in a bruised or painful body.
- Essential oils are also something easy to incorporate into your well-being routine. Peppermint oil is thought to be an excellent natural painkiller and muscle relaxant (perfect for head, neck and shoulder pain and calming down headaches). Make sure to dilute it in carrier oil if you put it straight on your skin. Lemongrass essential oil is also thought to help with muscle spasms, backache and blood circulation, and frankincense and cypress essential oils are anti-inflammatory.
- Finally, Vitamin D - it's always important to get tested when starting your root-cause health journey and the reason for this is that recently I discovered that many people who deal with regular muscle spasms or pain might be deficient in vitamin D. If this is you, optimizing your diet for high-quality levels of Vitamin D (through eggs, fish, milk etc) can help, as well as regular exposure to sunlight. If you decide supplementation of Vitamin D is the correct route for you (as it is for me), I'd look into taking the best ever vitamin D3 K2 combo. You can only buy it through a practitioner and with a practitioner code but my good friend Will Cole shared his code with me for my Agent Army so you can buy it too! You need to register here using referral code 'drwillcole' and practitioners last name 'cole'. Head here for more information on Vitamin D and the power it holds for your immunity (as well as so many other things).
So, there are tons of options for natural pain relief and muscle relaxation that I hope can keep you away from grabbing prescription painkillers.
Is there anything that you would add to this list? I'd love to hear from you.
And, let's also not forget that cannabis oil is another option if you are in a state or country where this is accessible for you! However, due to the prohibitive nature of the product for so many people around the world, I didn't include it in my top 8 choices right now.
Talk to you soon.
Love Jena x
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS; THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST.