Sore muscles are no laughing matter, especially when you have important things to do. While drug manufacturers would have you clamoring to your nearest pharmacy to pick up the biggest bottle of pain medicine on the shelves, it’s safe to say that modern medicine is still no match for the healing powers of nature. To many times, people get stuck on the vicious cycle of popping a pill for every ill, only to wind up with more problems in the end. There’s got to be a better way.
A Quick Note about Alternatives to Medication
Seeing a doctor can be very expensive, and when the issue is only a few sore muscles it makes no sense to spend that kind of money. Self-medication is a common practice and vigilance can mitigate risk. Using sound judgment can make you more self-reliant, so take note of your prior activities and subsequent physical condition before administering any alternative home remedies for your body aches. Certain body pains can be signs of something more serious, which means you should have a family doctor on call just in case.
The Common Causes of Body Aches
People deal with body aches for a variety of reasons, and few of them have to do with age or gender. In fact, muscles in the body can become sore from overuse or under use, meaning people from all walks of life suffer from this sudden, uncomfortable feeling. However, certain occupations, activities, and conditions can worsen muscle pain, include but not limited to the following:
- Strenuous exercise
- Low blood flow
- Calcium and/or potassium deficiency
Micro tears in the muscle tissue are often responsible for general soreness after any kind of physical exertion. To stop this process at the source, strengthen your muscles with regular exercise and support their growth with a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Be mindful that muscle cramps and sprains are not the same thing as general muscle soreness. A muscle cramp is when your muscle tissue contracts for a few seconds to several minutes. Most of that time, muscle cramps can be alleviated with massage and potassium intake (i.e. eating a banana). However, a medical professional should examine muscle sprains immediately to prevent further damage to the ligaments and tendons.
Fortunately, general body aches are very common and very treatable. Aside from applying cold or heat to the tender muscle, mixing various concoctions from ingredients found in your kitchen cupboard can be extremely effective. In fact, there is no need for any over-the-counter or prescription medication whatsoever. By utilizing the gifts of nature, we can take advantage of the best alternative remedies for body aches known to man.
The Top 5 Best Alternative Remedies for Body Aches
When taking handfuls of over-the-counter medication is not an option, alternative remedies for body aches must be utilized responsibly. Luckily, despite the many potentially harmful innovations introduced by modern medicine, nature’s bounty still reigns supreme at alleviating general muscle soreness (among many other things). The trick is to understand the various properties of the ingredients contained within each of the following remedies so that you can create your own at-home healing kit.
While none of the information contained in this article is meant to be taken as professional medical advice, years of experience and sound personal research back it. None of the concoctions mentioned here are mixtures, solutions, or salves that have been approved or endorsed by the FDA or any other organization. They are, however, highly effective alternative remedies for body aches that have been proven to work for centuries.
Alternative Remedy No. 1: The Almighty Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is an impressively inexpensive purchase that has a variety of uses, including being used as a sore muscle relaxer. By using just a few cups of the stuff in your warm bath water, big differences in the way you feel can be made. In water, Epsom salt breaks down into magnesium and sulfate – two substances known for their body healing properties.
Furthermore, research suggests that Epsom salt’s healing powers soak in directly through the skin, giving it the power to provide almost instantaneous relief. This inexpensive alternative remedy can even loosen stiff joints, and when scented can provide aromatherapy to further relieve stress and tension. Epsom salt is available any most local pharmacies, but can also be acquired at salons, health and beauty shops, grocery stores, and online.
Add a little of your own magnesium oil to the warm bath and soak for about 15 minutes to see amazing results. Try putting the magnesium oil in a spray bottle and applying it directly to the sore muscles. Since magnesium is known to be a natural muscle relaxant that pulls excess fluid from muscle tissues to reduce swelling, it makes sense to take a dip in it whenever your body begins to ache. NOTE: A lengthy Epsom salt treatment is not recommended for people with health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease.
Alternative Remedy No. 2: Good Ole’ Blackstrap Molasses
Your grandfather used blackstrap molasses when he had body aches and that was all the time, so you know this stuff is safe. In fact, it can be administered orally or as part of a topical solution. Good news for the dieters out there: it has the lowest sugar content of any cane product on the market. So, eat up because blackstrap molasses contains huge amounts of magnesium, iron, calcium, and vitamin B6 – four substances that are imperative to healthy, happy muscles.
Granddad swore by the stuff, dropping about two tablespoons of it into his morning coffee to cure his chronic muscle pain. At night, he would sip on his mug of “Switchel” and you never knew why. Well now, knowing that “Switchel” is a combination of apple cider vinegar and blackstrap molasses, do you see why your ancestors were so adamant about their home-grown alternative remedies for body aches?
Interestingly, pappy’s vat of “Switchel” is not so uncommon. Early Americans typically used it to alleviate body aches and rehydrate their bodies long before those brightly colored sports drinks came along to steal the show. The recipe, as follows, is very simple and delicious, and it can be a fun tradition to make it for family members who need a quick pick-me-up:
- ¼ cup of blackstrap molasses (found at your local grocery store)
- ½ cup of apple cider vinegar
- 2/3 to 1 cup honey, sugar, or natural sweetener
- Optional: 1 ½ teaspoons of ginger (ground as finely as possible)
Mix all ingredients in a pitcher and fill with warm water until everything is dissolved. You can even chill it and serve it over ice if you want to. “Switchel” is both healthy and helpful, which might explain why it can also be habit forming (in a good way).
Alternative Remedy No. 3: Everybody’s Favorite Apple Cider Vinegar
On the streets, it’s known as ACV, but for the purposes of this article we’ll just call it apple cider vinegar and be done with it. Apple cider vinegar has numerous health benefits that are supported by modern scientists, the same experts who promote those beloved over-the-counter medications and prescription pharmaceuticals. Why then, aren’t more people pulling it down from their cupboards when their bodies begin to ache?
The answer may be because of the smell. Apple cider vinegar isn’t exactly pleasant, but it is very effective at making sore muscles go away. More so than that though, apple cider vinegar can induce weight loss, lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and it is known to improve various symptoms of diabetes. With all that said, how can apple cider vinegar be used without making you gag from the rancid aroma?
A lot of people like to drip a drop or two (more like a teaspoon or two) into their drink, often slamming it down like a shot. Rather brazen individuals can gulp apple cider vinegar straight, but for the rest of us, adding a little bit to a glass of water or fresh fruit juice sounds more like it. If consuming the stuff isn’t your style, you can rub the vinegar right on the sore muscle to make it feel better. See? Nature has thought of everything.
TIP: Add some honey or fresh mint to your little ACV concoction to make it more edible.
Alternative Remedy No. 4: Essential Oils (Yes, like the ones for your face and hair)
Those essential oils clogging up your bathroom counter are not going to use themselves. How many times a day do you wipe them on your face or in your hair? How expensive were they? Why not get your money’s worth and use them as an alternative remedy for body aches? It works and you don’t even have to leave your house to start feeling better.
Essential oils have various beneficial properties, and some oils actually alleviate muscle pain better than they do whatever it is you thought they did when you bought them. Case in point: chamomile. You will probably spot it, or lavender, in one or more of your fine beauty products there, but did you know that chamomile is highly effective at soothing sore muscles? Just two or three drops on the affected area and voila, your pain starts going away. Not bad for an oil marketed for its anti-aging properties.
Other essential oils that work wonders include olive oil, coconut oil, basil, marjoram, peppermint, and helichrysum. So basically, it’s not just your bathroom that’s full of muscle-saving goodies and gadgets. Your kitchen is a treasure trove as well. You had better take advantage.
Alternative Remedy No. 5: Heat Rubs
There are several advantages to massaging a sore body, but we don’t have to tell you that. However, adding a little naturally derived heat might be something you hadn’t thought about. Did you know that capsaicin, the compound responsible for the heat in spicy foods, has been used by people to alleviate joint and muscle pain since the middle ages? Since you’re already in the kitchen, you may as well go on and grab up the following items if you have them:
- Cayenne pepper and olive oil; or
- Cinnamon and honey
Heat rubs are a terrific way to heal your sore body for free, and without using potentially harmful medications. Cayenne pepper and cinnamon both contain capsaicin, which means they can be used in the same way. The olive oil and honey merely act as carriers for the capsaicin, although olive oil is known to have its own muscle healing properties as well.
By mixing together either cayenne pepper and olive oil or cinnamon and honey and gently rubbing that mixture directly to your sore muscles, the pain should begin to subside quickly. Notice that the mixture heats up over time, causing the muscle tissues to relax and release. Be sure not to leave these heat mixtures on your skin for too long though, as they can cause irritation or burning on people with extremely sensitive skin.
Heat rubs, in order to work properly, must be administered to a body at rest. Try not to be standing when massaging your sore muscles. It helps to lie down and have someone rub it out for you if possible. If not possible, purchase an automatic massager that requires little effort on your part to use.
Special Considerations about Alternative Remedies for Body Aches
Keep in mind that chronic achiness may be your body’s way of trying to signal that something more serious is wrong. Over exerting your body on a regular basis may cause permanent damage, so using band-aid alternative remedies instead of getting real help may exacerbate any existing conditions, whether discovered and diagnosed or not. Do not, under any circumstances, use these remedies if you are allergic to the ingredients contained within. Also, double check that any medications you’re taking won’t have an adverse effect when using these natural at-home remedies. Use your best judgment when healing yourself and try to take care of your body. After all, it’s the only one you’ll ever have.