Back pain is one of the most common reasons to see a doctor, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In a large number of cases, back pain is caused by overly tense muscles, which can seize up or go through periods of painful spasms. While the conventional treatment for back pain includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or even surgery, there are a number of herbs that can be made into a tea to relax tense muscles and lessen spasmodic episodes.
Cramp Bark: The Premier Anti-Spasmodic
Anti-spasmodic herbs relieve contractions and spasms in both smooth and involuntary muscles throughout the body, according to naturopathic doctor and master herbalist John R. Christopher. Cramp bark is considered one of the most effective herbal anti-spasmodics and is used as a remedy for nervous disorders and spasms. Herbalist Jim MacDonald touts cramp bark as one of the most effective herbal anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic agents due to its wide range of applications throughout the body.
Christopher suggests the use of scullcap tea for pain and spasms in conjunction with restlessness, twitching of the muscles and hypersensitivity. Scullcap tea can also be used to treat back pain and spasms that are accompanied by insomnia and nervousness, according to naturopathic doctor Sharol Tilgner. Scullcap is relaxing to the body and also promotes a feeling of peace of mind, particularly when pain or spasms are creating stress.
Black Cohosh for an Achy, Tender Back
While mostly known in the mainstream world as an herb to treat symptoms of menopause, black cohosh is also a potent anti-spasomdic remedy. MacDonald suggests the use of black cohosh for back pain that is characterized by stiffness along with a dull, achy sensation. He recommends small frequent doses for the best result in relieving back pain and spasms. Tilgner uses black cohosh when there are spasms accompanied by nerve pain made worse by cold and better by applying heat. Black cohosh contains salicylic acid -- the natural component used to synthesize aspirin -- which is one reason it may have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects.
Herbal Tea Preparation and Other Natural Therapies
If you'd like to make a tea with multiple herbs, it's as simple as mixing the dried herbs together and then steeping 1 tablespoon per cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink 1 to 4 cups a day for acute pain or spasms. Along with herbs, adjunct therapies like yoga, stretching, walking and massage can all support healthy spinal movement and relaxation. Take a hot bath with Epsom salts to naturally relieve tension and minimize spasms. You can add anti-spasmodic herbs into the bath in a muslin bag for an external tea application, as well.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Back Pain and Sciatica
- Dr. Christopher's Herbal Legacy: Spasms
- Jim MacDonald, Herbalist: Herbs for Back Pain
- Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth; Sharol Tilgner, N.D.