Herbal Remedies for Neck Pain
Mother Nature has provided us with a few natural remedies to soothe neck pain. From fragrant lavender to the Chinese remedy kudzu, you might find relief with these herbs.
By Dennis Thompson Jr.
Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
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People have used herbal supplements to treat pain for thousands of years, and these supplements have undergone a recent renewal in popularity among Americans. Herbal remedies may be taken in pill form, brewed and sipped as a tea, infused in your bathwater, inhaled as aromatherapy, or used on your skin in cream, ointment, oil, or gel form.
If you have neck pain, you may be considering using herbal supplements to ease your aches, but you should keep in mind that these remedies are not as closely regulated as traditional neck pain medications. Consult your doctor before trying any of these treatments.
Herbal Remedy for Neck Pain: Devil's Claw
Devil's claw is a shrub native to southern Africa with bright red flowers. Its name comes from the skin of its fruit, which features miniature hooks. Devil’s claw is available as a powder or pill, and there is some research to support its use as a pain reliever. Studies found that a several-month course of devil's claw substantially reduced pain and improved physical functioning in osteoarthritis patients. Other research indicates that devil's claw relieves low back and neck pain, with one study finding it as effective as a prescription anti-inflammatory pain medication.
Herbal Remedy for Neck Pain: Kudzu
Kudzu is a botanical remedy used in Chinese medicine for a number of conditions, including neck pain. Researchers have found that kudzu can reduce inflammation by interrupting the body's inflammatory response. Taken as a pill or powder, kudzu affects the body in ways similar to the hormone estrogen. That means people who have hormone-sensitive cancers or are taking tamoxifen should avoid it. It should also not be used by anyone on oral medication for diabetes.
Herbal Remedy for Neck Pain: Menthol and Camphor
You've most likely already used these herbal products to treat neck pain or some other muscle or joint ache. They are common ingredients in over-the-counter analgesic muscle pain balms like BenGay, Mentholatum, and Icy Hot and in topical lip balms like Carmex. Menthol and camphor also can be used on their own as distilled oils or in creams or gels. When they are rubbed into the skin, they increase blood circulation to the affected area and produce a warm or cool feeling that soothes and relaxes. The effect often lasts for several hours.
Herbal Remedy for Neck Pain: St. John's Wort
St. John's wort is one of the most popular herbal products in the United States for treating many conditions, including depression. It has been used for centuries to ease pain, such as neck pain. St. John's wort has anti-inflammatory properties and may be helpful for nerve pain in particular, though more research is needed in this area. St. John's wort is available in pill and powder form, and can be brewed as a tea. But because it interacts with many medications, you should take this herb under only the guidance of your physician.
Herbal Remedy for Neck Pain: Lavender
The fragrant flowers from the lavender bush have been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. These days, fragrant oils derived from lavender flowers are used as aromatherapy and massage oils to help relieve neck pain and low back pain. Lavender is particularly effective against neck pain if used in conjunction with massage therapy.
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