As I’m sure you know, physical injuries can happen at any time and don’t always occur in extreme circumstances.
Grandpa Mike broke his ankle in the summer, not on one of his outdoor adventures, but on a slippery floor in a house in Italy. We’ve had stiff backs from laptop work and seen achy injuries from karate accidents. Whether sustained while undertaking extreme sports or something more domestic, body injuries can affect your day-to-day life immensely. There are three things we keep on hand for strains and sprains: valerian capsules, turmeric and black pepper capsules, and ache ease balm.
We looked at valerian root for hay fever, but it is also an excellent herb for tense muscles or muscles in spasm after injury. Muscles spasm to protect tissue, but the tension can last long after the injury and cause massive discomfort. Valerian has long been shown to relax smooth muscle, the sort of muscle found in the digestive system, but recent trials have demonstrated its use as a skeletal muscle relaxant. It relaxes the muscle without decreasing endurance and ability. Where there’s muscle tension, you can take a valerian capsule and see how you feel.
Valerian is contraindicated with pharmaceutical sedatives and low blood pressure. If you are on any medication, consult a practitioner before taking valerian.
Turmeric and black pepper capsules
Turmeric and black pepper has become a very popular and powerful combination. The turmeric brings wonderful anti-inflammatory properties, and the black pepper supports circulation, which can be reduced when muscles are in spasm. Turmeric is often indicated where there is inflammation, to be taken for a few days to support initial healing.
Turmeric is contraindicated where there is iron deficiency and should not be taken without consultation.
Ache Ease balm
Ache Ease is a combination of infused oils made into a balm, an effective recipe tried and tested over many years. The herbs are horseradish root, comfrey leaf and heather flowers. Horseradish encourages blood flow to the area to clear inflammation and support healing, comfrey has regenerative properties for damaged tissue, and heather is wonderfully anti-inflammatory. Not for use on open wounds or skin conditions, this balm works a treat to support and reduce pain and stiffness after injury. The infused oils are combined in equal parts and added to shea butter and beeswax to form a balm that is easy to apply and to store. It can be used twice a day to support muscle aches and strains. We also use this balm on bone injuries once the injury is secured in place.
Comfrey can increase the regeneration speed of bone, so it mustn’t be used where there is a break that is not yet set in place! Also, not to be used with underlying liver issues because of the current controversy around pyrrolizidine alkaloids in comfrey.
Karen Lawton and Fiona Heckels are the Seed SistAs, herbalists, eco-activists, writers, performers and speakers. Authors of The Sensory Herbal Handbook and Poison Prescriptions, they travel far and wide teaching about plant medicine, while running the community interest company Sensory Solutions Herbal Evolution. Join them for courses, sign up for their newsletters and follow them on social media. seedsistas.co.uk and on Instagram @seed_sistas
Photo by Towfiqu Barbhuiya
First published in Issue 80 of JUNO. Accurate at the time this issue went to print.