DIY Herbal Remedy for Leg Cramps
The pain of a cramp in a calf or thigh muscle can ruin sleep and leave residual daytime grogginess, irritability and loss of focus through the next day. Drinking more water, eating bananas and taking magnesium or potassium sometimes works, but traditional use of herbs can also address leg cramps. It’s easy to create a water decoction of a variety of roots, herbs and bark at home to apply to aching and cramping muscles to relax them, settle restless legs and quell overactive nerves.
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, abundant in the Southwest desert, also have been found to work synergistically to relax tight muscles and relieve cramping.
Peppermint, lavender and St. John’s wort are useful addictions to any anti-leg cramp remedy to help relieve oversensitivity 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 recharge their energy. 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.
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