Let’s start with the classic “stiff neck” and the low-back pain caused from overexertion. We can even lump in tension headaches caused by stress and neck tension from (as an example) sitting at a desk all day. These symptoms have enough in common so that we can treat them with a single formulation.
The first step in addressing these conditions would be to address the symptoms. In this case, that means pain relief.
Our two favorite herbs for addressing pain directly are Arnica Montana and White Willow Bark. The white willow bark is an analgesic and was actually the original source of aspirin. Arnica is a prostaglandin blocker like Advil.
Blocking the pain signal in two ways using these two herbs is a good idea because some people respond better to one than the other. We are all different. Additionally, pain relief from herbs is not quite as effective, but far less potentially harmeful over the long term, as the highly concentrated chemical alternatives that are used in over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.
The second step is to get the nerves to relax and settle down while relaxing the muscles. For this, my choice would be St. John’s Wort, Lavender Bud and Peppermint.
There are certainly other nerve quelling herbs but these three are very popular for treating muscular-related nerve issues. By “popular,” we mean that they have been used for this purpose for thousands of years. Cramp Bark will act directly on skeletal muscles getting them to relax, break up the fixations and become more supple.
Those selected herbs should deal with the symptoms and the cause. The next step then is to address the body and help it to heal. If there is some damage that has caused the local fixation, or some micro-tears in ligaments, then the healing phase involves returning blood and lymphatic flow to the region and laying down reparative collagen. Nothing does this better than Comfrey.
Historically known as “Bone-Knit” for its ability to facilitate healing of bone fractures, Comfrey increases the level of fibroblast activity in the damaged area, thus speeding up the repair of tissues. All tissues are made primarily of the protein structure Collagen.
Now that we have addressed the formula that embodies our desired Three-Pronged-Approach, it is now time to look at the treatment protocol. Now, we are armed with the right combination of herbs, but how do we use them?
The first step is to prepare a decoction. This is a term which simply indicates a water extraction of the vital constituents of each herb. It is important to note that you do not boil the herbs. Rather, you soak the herbs in hot water.
While it is true that there are some herbal constituents that are more soluble in oil or alcohol, water seems to work well as a conveyance and doesn’t destroy or disturb the fragile constituents as alcohol can. While some people believe that it is best to drink the tea and would therefore dilute it heavily as it is not wise to consume much Arnica Montana orally.
Instead of putting the tea in your stomach when the pain is in your neck (or back), we are going to put the tea where the pain is. This means using less, exposing your body to less and getting more of it directly where it is needed.
In ancient times, the herbs would be macerated, soaked in hot water and then laid into a linen-cloth. The cloth would then be tied around the injured or hurting area and the broth would seep into the skin.
We can do better than that now. We can spray the broth onto the skin or make it into a lotion or gel and apply it by hand. Both methods are effective. Since the lotion or gel is water based, it will be readily accepted into the skin and the vital constituents from the herbs will be delivered directly to where they are needed.
The effect of the herbs will last for several hours at which point they will need to be reapplied. This blend of herbs contains herbs that are designed to relax nerves, quell pain, relax skeletal muscles and foster repair. It can be used on any part of the body where these functions would be useful.
Though we put them into a roll-on product called Back & Neck Relief, one could also use it for tension headaches, low, mid or upper back pain or even shoulder or elbow pain. This combination works best on muscle-cramp pain or strain from stiff necks or improper lifting.
It is also effective at relieving pain from pinched nerves or bulging disks, though it doesn’t fix the bulging disk. Rather, it will loosen the area and relieve the pain allowing your body to be manipulated in a chiropractic manner or with therapeutic message.
Oftentimes, skeletal imbalances combined with misuse can cause muscles to go into spasm. These spasms can be painful and last for days. Applying this combination of herbs helps to relieve the pain, break the inflammation cycle and relax the muscles.
The muscles can be returned to a more comfortable resting state in a much shorter period of time. The underlying imbalance can then more easily be treated with chiropractic adjustment and the massage can more readily restore proper blood and lymphatic flow to the region.
This is the type of tool that you should apply with a roll-on directly to the pain site and trouble areas before and after therapeutic message and chiropractic adjustment.
Remember, the purpose of muscles is to move bones. When you get an adjustment, the vertebral balance is being restored. The relative position is being corrected. But if the muscle imbalance remains, then the differential tension will cause the vertebrae to move back in the wrong direction.
That is why it is very important to get those skeletal-muscle-relaxing herbs on the region before and after the adjustment. This will allow the adjustments to hold longer. Additionally, the long-term correction occurs faster when you keep the area free of nerve irritation and the muscles relaxed.
One can re-apply this lotion, gel or spray as often as desired. The actual body-dose is quite small because it is being applied externally and directly to where it’s needed. This is significantly more efficient than ingesting the herbs and having them all throughout your body when your goal is to treat a pain in a small isolated part of your body.