Q. Is there anything natural I can do to help alleviate muscle pain and inflammation? I don’t like taking anti-inflammatory drugs or aspirin.
A. There are many natural ways to help your body heal from sore, inflamed muscles. A variety of methods can help you recover quickly, including enzymes, herbal medicines and topical treatments.
Bromelain is one of the most effective natural anti-inflammatory enzymes. Derived from pineapple, it can decrease inflammation and swelling in injured tissues.
I routinely advise my patients with various kinds of tendonitis or muscle pain to use bromelain in place of common over-the-counter medications. Bromelain is best taken on an empty stomach, and the recommended dose is 750 milligrams three times a day. People with a stomach ulcer or gastritis should avoid taking bromelain.
According to an article published in December 2003 in the journal Biochemical Pharmacology, Curcumin, which is a compound derived from the herb turmeric, has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin has been recommended by naturopathic physicians for decades for decreasing inflammation. It is commonly taken with bromelain. The recommended dose is 400 milligrams three times a day.
Topical treatments can help alleviate inflamed, painful muscles and assist you with recovery. If your muscles or tendons are acutely inflamed (within 48 hours of injury), use ice topically or soak the affected area in cold water with ice in it.
You can drape a bag of frozen corn or peas over the painful or inflamed muscles for 5 to 10 minutes up to four times a day.
Beyond 48 hours after an acute injury, begin alternating cold with heat. It’s best to start with hot water and soak the affected area for 1 minute, then soak in cold water for 30 seconds. Alternate three times, always ending with cold, and do this three times a day until your pain is alleviated.
If you don’t have acute pain but you suffer from muscle soreness, a great home remedy is soaking in a hot bath with a cup of Epsom salts. These salts are unique because they are made of magnesium sulfate; when you soak with them in a hot bath, they are absorbed through your skin and help draw out stored tissue wastes.
If you have painful muscles, remember that it is your body’s way of telling you that you need to rest until you feel better.
Article was originally printed in the Honolulu Advertiser, honoluluadvertiser.com