The agonizing pain of a cramp in a calf or thigh muscle can be more than annoying. When it happens during the night, it can ruin sleep and leave residual daytime grogginess, irritability and loss of focus through the next day.We have all heard the advice, “Drink more water, eat bananas, take magnesium or potassium.” Sometimes this works, but traditional use of herbs can help address leg cramps, as well.
It’s easy to create an at-home water decoction of a variety of roots, herbs and bark to apply to aching and cramping muscles to relax them, settle restless legs and quell over-active nerves. Anecdotal experience has shown that when bananas, supplements and water don’t work, the following herbs may do the trick.
Native Americans rubbed rosemary on their legs before long-distance running in order to enhance the suppleness of their muscles. Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) was so named because of its reputation for relaxing all types of muscle spasms, says clinical herbalist Penelope Ody in The Complete Medicinal Herbal. Mexican wild yam and sage, abundantly found in the Southwest desert, also have been found to work synergistically to relax tight muscles and relieve cramping.
Simmer this combination of roots, bark and herbs slowly for several hours over low heat because the vital constituents are fragile and it takes time to get the goodness out of roots and barks.
Peppermint, lavender and St. John’s wort are useful addictions to any anti-leg cramp remedy to help relieve over-sensitivity of the sympathetic nervous system, says British herbalist Andrew Chevallier in the Natural Health Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Add them to the basic herbal decoction for relief of the pain, discomfort and irritation associated with overworked muscles. This soothing poultice eases discomfort while muscles excrete waste and re-charge their energy.
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