Muscle pain and stiffness are common issues that affect pretty much everyone at some phase in life. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help alleviate the aches, whether you suffer from a chronic condition like arthritis or seek relief for post-workout recovery.
One such method to consider is natural ingredients and supplements that can help reduce muscle pain, inflammation, and stiffness. While their potency may vary from one ingredient to the next, they all offer significantly fewer side effects than many pharmaceutical medications.
Many of the supplements and ingredients we’ll highlight can help reduce inflammation, a common underlying contributor to muscle soreness. Inflammation is the body’s natural defense mechanism against injury and illness. In most cases, inflammation is essential for the healing process and restoring balance to the body. However, when the pain – pain-inflammation cycle is running on a continuous cycle, it can be detrimental to the body, your muscles included.
Let’s take a look at a comprehensive list of natural ingredients and supplements that can provide relief for muscle pain, stiffness, and inflammation at the source of your issues.
CBD is well known for being one of the best supplements for relieving muscle pain and inflammation. Numerous studies show that CBD activates your body’s endocannabinoid system which controls many critical bodily functions such as sleep, pain control, and inflammatory and immune responses.
The human body includes TRPV1 receptors that bind to CBD oils when placed on the skin. Once CBD is absorbed into the skin, your endocannabinoid system sends signals to your body, reducing inflammation and increasing the sensation of pain relief.
Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, is a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the hemp plant. No need to worry about feeling “high” when you take CBD because it does not have mind-altering effects.
The therapeutic effects of taking CBD as a supplement or using it topically include natural relief of muscle stiffness and tension and reduced inflammation. CBD can assist in preventing the release of neurotransmitters that can cause muscle spasming and rigidity, instead inducing muscle relaxation.
Botanika Life’s CBD Pain Relief Collection offers topical solutions for every lifestyle, from on-the-go mini pain relief rollers to muscle balms and creams. All of our pain products harness the power of full-spectrum CBD along with lidocaine, menthol, and other powerful ingredients.
Arnica is a homeopathic herb used to relieve muscle aches, pains, and bruising. This traditional supplement has been used for its medicinal value for centuries worldwide.
Also called Arnica montana, this herb contains 150 different bio-active components that powerfully combat joint pain, muscle aches, and inflammation. The powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient in arnica is called helenalin, which if ingested in large amounts can be toxic and dangerous.
The most common way to use arnica for muscle stiffness, pain, and bruising is in topical forms like creams, ointments, and roll-ons. Topical arnica is the safest way to use this supplement, offering targeted relief to painful areas of your body.
Menthol and Peppermint Oil
The cooling action of peppermint is well-known in the herbal world for its icy-hot effect on sore, stiff, and achy muscles. Applied topically, it releases an anti-inflammatory amino acid in the body called substance P. Substance P assists in altering the transmission of pain signals to the brain, thus reducing the perception of pain your body experiences.
Peppermint naturally contains menthol, which provides analgesic, aka pain-relieving, properties as soon as it touches the skin. Along with instant pain reduction, peppermint offers antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory properties which can aid in stiff or spasming muscle symptoms.
Menthol is a powerful pain reliever due to what is called the Gate Theory. According to the Gate Theory, menthol causes a disruption preventing pain signals from reaching the brain, so you do not feel the full sense of pain in your body. Therefore, acute, and inflammatory pain is intercepted, offering instant relief. Menthol also causes dilation of blood vessels in the skin, improving blood flow to areas of injury or inflammation in your body.
To learn more about how this ingredient can help address muscle pain and other benefits, read The Power of Menthol - Inflammation & Pain Relief.
Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Sandalwood Oil
Essential oils are extracted from the leaves, seeds, flowers, or fruits of a plant and have been used as natural healers and supplements since the beginning of time. Eucalyptus oil is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, offering relief for muscle and joint pain. It has been used for centuries to treat arthritis, muscle pain, and wounds.
Lavender oil is a go-to essential oil, known for its relaxing and calming effects. Used for muscle and joint relief, along with soothing sore muscles, there are many ways to incorporate this oil into your pain relief kit.
Another lesser-known essential oil is sandalwood oil, which has also been used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine across the world. Sandalwood oil has anti-inflammatory effects, altering the cell signaling of pain in the body.
What better way to relieve muscle tension and pain than to soak away your stress with essential oil bath bombs? Combining powerful full-spectrum CBD with lavender, eucalyptus, sandalwood, and rose essential oils is the perfect way to deliver anti-inflammatory and muscle-relaxing effects to your entire body.
Capsaicin is the compound found in chili peppers giving them a hot and spicy taste. Not only can capsaicin kick up the heat in your food, but it also provides a range of medicinal properties for muscle pain and stiffness. Offering pain-relieving properties, capsaicin affects the neurotransmitters that communicate pain signals to the brain thus reducing the perception of pain.
Taken as a supplement, capsaicin can reduce inflammation and assist with pain management, but the most effective way to use this natural healer for muscle pain and stiffness is to use capsaicin cream or patches. Studies show that capsaicin can relieve pain due to conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscle sprains and strains, inflammation, and joint stiffness.
Fish oils contain powerful omega-3 fatty acids known for a variety of health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids exist throughout the body, but an interesting fact is that your body cannot produce these fatty acids on its own. Hence, obtaining this pertinent vitamin through your food source and supplements is vital.
As one of the best supplements for muscle pain and inflammation, fish oils are known to assist with several inflammatory conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis. Regular supplementation of fish oils can significantly decrease swelling, inflammation, and tenderness in the joints.
Your body uses Omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into anti-inflammatory chemicals called resolvins. By reducing whole-body inflammation, stiffness, and muscle pain can also be alleviated.
Vitamin D has potent anti-inflammatory properties and is essential for maintaining healthy bones and muscles. This vitamin assists your body in absorbing calcium, which is essential for muscle function. Low levels of Vitamin D make you more prone to muscle pain, inflammation, and weakness. This happens because your body is not able to properly absorb calcium and phosphorus without sufficient Vitamin D.
The most common and easily available source of Vitamin D is direct exposure to sunlight. However, most people do not absorb enough of this important vitamin from the sun and must supplement it to keep their immune systems strong and muscle pain at bay.
Turmeric is one of the healthiest spices and supplements you can add to your daily diet. With a myriad of health benefits, this powerful antioxidant and inflammation reducer is known for decreasing pain and increasing muscle and joint mobility. While this ingredient won’t be enough to completely eliminate the aches from stiff muscles, it can lessen the soreness and supplement broader strategies to pain management.
The active ingredient found in turmeric providing its main healing properties is curcumin, which gives turmeric its spice and color. Curcumin can suppress the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are immune cells that regulate the body’s inflammatory response.
Turmeric has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory properties, with one recent study finding that taking turmeric supplements three times a day is comparable to taking a 1,200-milligram dose of ibuprofen in terms of symptom relief. The key here is the regular use of this healing supplement. For many people who suffer from issues like rheumatoid arthritis, turmeric can reduce symptoms of joint swelling and morning stiffness.
It is important to know that turmeric is poorly absorbed during digestion if it’s taken alone. Turmeric must be paired with piperine, which is in pepper, to obtain the maximum effect. Adding fatty oils to the mix when you take turmeric, such as avocado or olive oil, is also suggested to help your body absorb the healing elements.
Cherry and Pomegranate Juice
Both effective as muscle relaxers, tart cherry, and pomegranate juice have been studied for their anti-inflammatory effects. Packed with potassium, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds, pomegranate juice has been linked to increasing blood flow and muscle recovery post-workout, while cherry juice has been proven to decrease muscle breakdown and soreness.
Pomegranate juice contains polyphenols which are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties and can help counteract free radical damage to your cells. Drinking pomegranate or cherry juice every day can supply your body with potassium and electrolytes which promote muscle relaxation and relieve soreness.
Magnesium plays a major role in muscle function and relaxation. Low levels of this vitamin make you prone to muscle cramps, stiffness, and spasms. This essential mineral helps your muscles absorb glucose, increasing your blood sugar availability for muscle use and repair.
Studies show that having a lack of magnesium leads to increased inflammation and therefore increases your risk for developing chronic disease. Magnesium is also a powerful supplement in the fight against arthritis pain. The progressive breakdown of connective tissue and cartilage caused by osteoarthritis can be prevented with adequate supplementation of magnesium.
Boswellia, or Indian frankincense, is a plant used in ancient medicine for relieving pain and inflammation. Containing anti-inflammatory compounds, this supplement is extremely effective at naturally reducing musculoskeletal pain. The analgesic, aka pain relieving, qualities of Boswellia supplements are especially useful for easing joint pain symptoms.
Studies on this pain-relieving supplement have focused on Boswellia’s benefits for mild osteoarthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints, showing reduced pain and stiffness for those who took the supplement regularly over a period of time. The theory is that Boswellic acid prevents pain by interfering with cell-level functions that cause both pain and inflammation.
Important Note - Always Follow Recommended Dosages
Although the supplements discussed in this article are all naturally sourced, too much of anything can lead to harmful effects. It is important to follow the recommended dosage and consult with your doctor if you are taking prescription medication for liver disease, diabetes, or other major health issues.
By Emily Wegener
With a unique background as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Masters Degree in Teaching and experience in Psychology, Emily spends much of her time researching and trying out new holistic healing modalities.