Are you suffering from tight, painful muscles? Or maybe you keep getting muscle spasms and have no idea why.
If you’re reading this, my guess is you are…
Muscle tension can cause tremendous discomfort. It makes any task seem like a huge chore.
Take it from someone who had extreme tension headaches nearly every day for more than four years. I know what you’re going through. It sucks. But I knew I had to do something about my pain.
So, I dug deep into the scientific research to find the best natural muscle relaxers known to man. Since they turned out to be so effective, I decided to share this list in hopes to help people like you.
This article will show you several different muscle relaxers you can use, different methods to release your tense muscles for the long term, and how to prevent them from coming back.
If you frequently suffer from muscle tension, cramps, and spams, it could be a sign that your body isn’t getting enough magnesium. Which wouldn’t be a surprise considering it’s estimated that over 50% of Americans are deficient in magnesium (1).
But why magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral that’s required for muscle relaxation (2). So when your body doesn’t have enough, your muscles will have a hard time relaxing. They will also be more likely to have spasms.
Since magnesium deficiencies are so often overlooked, it’s possible that your muscle woes could be solved by supplementing magnesium.
That being said, there are two primary ways you can get magnesium into your body. Personally, I supplement magnesium daily and then use the topical oil to give my sore muscles an extra helping hand.
Supplement Magnesium Glycinate
Omnibiotics Magnesium Glycinate
Top-Rated Magnesium Supplement
If a magnesium deficiency is the cause of your tense muscles, then replenishing your body’s supply of magnesium can provide relief.
Sounds logical enough, right?
This goes well beyond theory too. One study, for example, found that magnesium supplementation can reduce the frequency of leg cramps (3).
But it’s imperative that you don’t pick up any magnesium supplement at the store. That’s because most store-bought supplements have a low absorbability. In other words, they’re a waste of money.
Instead, you should pick up a chelated magnesium glycinate supplement. They have the best absorbability as far as magnesium supplements go (4). And as an added bonus, they can help improve the quality of your sleep when taken before bed (5).
Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil
Top-Rated Topical Magnesium
Applying a topical magnesium oil or spray to your tight areas is another solution. The benefit of this method is the magnesium gets absorbed directly into the muscle tissues that are causing your discomfort. Whereas magnesium supplements must go through your digestive system.
Dr. Mark Hymen of the Cleveland Clinic suggests that adults can use up to 1,000 mg/day, whereas children can use 400 mg/day.
2. Formula 303
Formula 303 is a natural muscle relaxant that’s often prescribed by chiropractors and several other natural health medical professionals.
Despite the name sounding like a prescription drug, Formula 303 only contains 3 natural ingredients: valerian root, passion flower, and magnesium carbonate.
There are countless product reviews on Formula 303. Most of which are people claiming it is the best natural muscle relaxer they’ve ever tried. And it seems the evidence that’s out there supports these claims…
Top Herbal Muscle Relaxer
Valerian root is a medicinal herb often used as a natural muscle relaxer. In fact, several studies have found that valerian has antispasmodic and analgesic effects (7, 8). This is just a nerdy way of saying it can prevent muscle spasms, muscle tension, and reduce your pain.
Passion flower, much like valerian, can reduce pain, cramps, and spasms (9). There’s also evidence that passion flower can help you sleep at night. For that reason, this may be taken towards the end of the day to get the most benefit—but it’s not a must if you get tense or painful muscles early in the day.
As explained above, supplementing magnesium on its own can be an effective natural muscle relaxer. The only downfall with this form of magnesium is that your body doesn’t absorb nearly as much as it does with magnesium glycinate (10).
In very rare cases, Formula 303 may cause you to feel sluggish, tired, dizzy, and get mild headaches. Since Formula 303 also contains magnesium, it may cause mild diarrhea–but it’s unlikely since the dose and absorbability is low.
Do NOT take Formula 303 with alcohol, Xanax (Aplrazolam), sedative medications, and some other medications that are changed by the liver (e.g., Mevacor, Nizoral, Sporanox, Allegra, Halicon, and others. Always consult with your doctor before taking any of these muscle relaxers (11). Because this supplement has magnesium, it can also interact with antibiotics and blood pressure medication.
3. Turmeric Root Powder
Have you ever taken ibuprofen, aspirin, or some other anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to alleviate your muscle pain?
I know I’ve certainly taken my share of NSAIDs to relieve a tight back or headache. There’s no denying that they work well. NSAIDs can effectively help ease painful muscles because they both reduce inflammation and pain.
But NSAIDs are far from perfect…
NSAIDs can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects. They can increase the risk of heart failure, negatively alter your gut’s microbiome, and even reduce the efficiency of your kidneys (12, 13, 14). And the more you take NSAIDs, the more likely you are to experience issues.
The good news is, studies suggest that turmeric powder holds some of the same anti-inflammatory and pain-killing power as NSAIDS. In fact, studies have found that the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is more effective than aspirin and ibuprofen for reducing inflammation (15).
When it comes to the temporary relief of pain, turmeric is the clear winner here.
Choosing the Right Turmeric Powder
NatureWise Organic Turmeric
Top-Rated Turmeric Supplement
If you choose this natural muscle pain reliever, make absolute sure you pick a turmeric root powder that’s organic, contains high levels of curcumin, and contains either fat or piperine. The fat or piperine ensures that your body absorbs curcumin. Otherwise, you won’t get much benefit from taking turmeric powder.
I personally take turmeric powder with magnesium to maximize the muscle-relaxing effect.
The supplement I recommend above meets all of these criteria.
4. CBD Oil
CBD oil is derived from the flowers of cannabis plants. And I can already imagine what you’re thinking… “But won’t this make me high and isn’t it illegal?”
No and no.
CBD oil doesn’t have any THC, the compound in cannabis that gives its infamous snack-binging “high.” Since CBD oil has no THC, it’s also completely legal.
Now that you know CBD oil won’t time warp you to the Woodstock Music and Arts fair, we can move onto how CBD oil benefits you.
CBD oil serve’s as what’s called an allosteric modulator of your opioid receptors (18). This means CBD oil can effectively reduce pain and chronic inflammation. Both of which are key when it comes to getting your muscles to relax.
There’s also evidence that CBD oil can relieve anxiety and improve your sleep (19). Which is great for relieving tense muscles since anxiety and stress can cause your muscles to tighten.
Since CBD oil can make you relaxed and sleepy, it’s best used at night. That way, you can wake up well-rested with no muscle pain or tension.
Choosing the Right CBD Oil
SOL CBD Oil
Best Quality CBD Oil
First, it’s important that you don’t fall for hemp seed oil as some people do. It’s a completely different product and contains minimal amounts, if any, of CBD (cannabidiol). Next, you need to select a high-quality CBD oil that is organic, cold-processed, and contains no harmful solvents.
I highly recommend SOL CBD oil because their product is the absolute best quality I’ve found to this date.
There are very few known side effects of CBD oil. The most common side effect is tiredness. In rare cases, some people have noticed diarrhea and changes in their appetite (20).
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D, like magnesium, is another nutrient (it’s actually a hormone) your body needs for happy muscles.
That’s because vitamin D positively correlates muscle strength, function, and postural stability (21). Woo-boy. Head spinning?
All this means is that your muscles lose their ability to function as you get more deficient in vitamin D.
As you could imagine, poorly functioning muscles can lead to a whole slew of muscle tension and pain problems. For example, if some of the muscles in your back (e.g., deltoids, supraspinatus) are weak, it can result in a hunched over posture. Over time, this can cause pain and tension in your back and neck.
But that’s not all…
Up to 93% of people who are deficient in vitamin D experience muscle pain and soreness (22). So not only can a lack of vitamin D cause poor muscle function, it can also result in MORE pain.
Definitely something you want to rule out before you start popping pills like aspirin every day.
Getting Vitamin D
Vibrant Health Vitamin D
Top Rated Vitamin D Supplement
Getting enough vitamin D can be tough if you’re not careful. Ideally, it’s best to get around 15 minutes of direct sun-to-skin exposure every day (more time if you have darker skin).
But I know this can be a huge challenge if you live in a cold climate or work indoors. In that case, a high-quality vitamin D supplement is ideal.
I suggest you get a clean vitamin D supplement that doesn’t contain a proprietary blend, is organic, and contains vitamin D3. Just make sure you take it with some healthy fat to ensure your body absorbs it well.
The vitamin D supplement by Vibrant Health meets all of these criteria.
There are no known side effects of vitamin D supplementation. However, if you take more than your body needs (e.g., more than 4000 units a day) then it may cause excessively high levels of calcium in the blood along with headaches, fatigue, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting (23).
Vitamin D supplements can negatively interact with antacids (due to the aluminum), Calcipotriene (Dovonex), Digoxin (Lanoxin), Diltazem, Verapamil, water pills, and any other medication that affects your heart.
Like magnesium and vitamin D deficiencies, movement is easy to overlook. Because it’s counter-intuitive. When people are in pain, they naturally want to take it easy.
But as long as your pain isn’t severe, you should be involving yourself in some form of exercise or gentle movement. Of course, you want to avoid any movements that may irritate your muscles even further.
Movement is important because when you’re sitting or lying, your muscles are in a shortened state. If you stay in these positions for too long, it can cause your muscles to favor that shortened state—it becomes their new norm.
So when you do want to use those shortened muscles, they will feel tight, painful, and achy.
Studies also suggest that if you’re too sedentary (inactive) that you can experience more inflammation (24). Combined with shortened muscles, this is a surefire way to experience muscle pain and tension. That makes movement a critical aspect of relaxing your muscles. Ideally, movement would be best combined with one of the other muscle relaxers mentioned here.
Here are some suggestions to naturally relax your muscles through movement:
- Try gentle exercise like yoga or Qigong
- If you often sit at a desk for work, use a Pomodoro timer to remind yourself to get up and walk around for a minute.
- If you work out at the gym, hire a trainer to teach you proper technique. This is a huge one for avoiding muscle strain and damage!
- If something is preventing you from more vigorous exercise, take 2-3 short walks a day to keep yourself active.
7. Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Under normal circumstances, inflammation is a healthy response. Your body uses inflammation to protect itself, fight off infections, and speed up healing.
The problem is, many people eat foods that promote chronic inflammation—the bad kind of inflammation.
Chronic inflammation makes your whole body inflamed, including your muscles. The more inflamed your muscles get, the more painful they will be (25). Since inflammation also involves swelling, it can also make the area feel even more tight and stiff.
The Auto-Immune Protocol
This is why you want to avoid pro-inflammatory foods as much as possible. Because they will only make your pain and tension worse. At the same time, want to heal your gut, which is often the source of chronic inflammation.
One of the best ways to do this is to follow what’s called the Auto-Immune Protocol (AIP). I’m actually following this diet right now. It’s designed to eliminate all foods that cause inflammation and damage your gut.
I won’t lie, it’s hard to follow. I mean, really hard. But it can, without a doubt, have life changing-effects. It’s totally worth the temporary misery. So if you’re up for the big payoff, here’s what the AIP eliminates from your diet:
- Grains: wheat, rice, corn, millet, amaranth, etc.
- Legumes: beans, hummus, peanuts, peas, etc.
- Dairy: this even includes raw or fermented dairy
- Nightshades: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, paprika, etc.
- Processed Oils: canola oil, soybean oil, “vegetable” oil
- Processed foods: anything that comes in a package or can.
- Alcohol: this one is really important!
- NSAIDs: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including ibuprofen and aspirin.
- Sugar and starches: Any added sugars should be avoided. This includes fruit juice.
Note: the AIP diet is best for those who experience chronic muscle pain as opposed to muscle pain caused by a single event like a fall or lifting something improperly.
Physical Release Methods
When combined with natural muscle relaxants, certain physical release methods can provide huge results.
As such, these methods should not be overlooked when you’re looking to find relief.
Physical release methods often include chiropractic adjustments, trigger point therapy, physical therapy, and even foam rolling. All of which can create long-lasting muscle relaxation and relief.
What’ more important than anything mentioned here is that you take measures to prevent your muscle tension, pain, or spasms from coming back. Otherwise, you will be stuck taking natural muscle relaxers for the rest of your life.
Here are some of the best preventative measures you can take:
- Fix Your Posture: If you have bad posture while sitting, looking at your phone, or with anything else you do repetitively, it could result in significant muscle tension and pain. It’s important to identify your daily repetitive tasks and talk with a medical professional about improving your posture.
- Drink Water: Dehydration can have unexpected negative effects. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day. That means you should be drinking 1 ounce of water for every pound you weigh.
- Avoid Alcohol & Caffeine: Both alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate you and cause you to lose electrolytes (including magnesium). And magnesium, as you now know, can lead to muscle spasms and tension.
- Control Your Stress: When people get stressed, they tend to tighten their muscles. So if you’re often stressed out, you definitely want to learn some stress reduction techniques.
The Bottom Line
Muscle pain and tension is a plague of modern day living. It can make any task seem like a huge chore.
To manage the pain, doctors will often prescribe muscle relaxers. But they come with an undesirable list of side effects. Many people also don’t like them because they can make you feel “loopy” or high. They relax your muscles at the cost of making you incapable of doing anything else.
That’s why there’s a huge demand for natural muscle relaxers that don’t have these negative side effects.