Cramp Relief: Powerful Antispasmodic Formula
When a muscle contracts severely and refuses to relax, we call it a muscle cramp or spasm. These cramps are not just annoying, they can be extremely painful. In fact, muscle spasms are sometimes so severe and painful that they are debilitating.
Many women experience severe cramping when they have a period, a condition known as dysmenorrhea (painful periods). Mild cramps during a period are nothing to be concerned about. Native people considered them practice for childbirth (that is, the uterus getting some practice or exercise in learning how to contract for labor). However, when those cramps become severe enough to cause major pain and discomfort that they interfere with normal life, it is good to know that there are a variety of herbs that can be helpful.
Most of the herbs in the Cramp Relief formula were used by Native Americans or early settlers to relieve dysmenorrhea. These herbs are called antispasmodics and may be helpful for cramping or painful periods, ovarian pain, labor pain, afterbirth pain, and some discomforts associated with menopause, such as hot flashes. The formula may also be helpful in other conditions involving muscle spasms, such as griping (bowel spasms) or adult colic, hiccough, spastic asthma, tension in the chest due to anxiety, gallbladder pain and even convulsions.
I had a hand in the formulation of this product, so I’m very confident in its usefulness. Here is a breakdown of the specific ingredients in this blend.
As the common name implies, the bark of this plant has a long history of use in relieving dysmenorrhea and other spastic conditions. Both modern herbalists and folklore report using it successfully to relieve uterine cramps, afterbirth pains and pain in the ovaries and uterus. It was also used for other disorders involving spasticity, including asthma, low back pain, abdominal cramps, heart palpitations and convulsions.
Wild yam has a history of use for female problems, even though it does not contain progesterone as is commonly believed. It was traditionally used in Central America to relieve dysmenorrhea, pain in the ovaries and labor pains. It has also been used for morning sickness and afterbirth pain. The plant has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic actions, as well as having soothing emollient qualities which help to explain these traditional uses. The anti-inflammatory action is believed to be due to the saponins it contains.
Wild yam has also been used in relieving spastic disorders in the intestinal tract such as adult colic, biliousness, abdominal pain, painful diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome and spastic colon. It has also been used for spastic asthma, rheumatism, arthritis and gallbladder pain. Michael Tierra says, “Wild yam is a valuable antispasmodic for treating griping (bowel spasms), hiccough, menstrual cramps and muscle pain.”
Black cohosh is another popular female remedy in wide use in modern herbalism due to the fact that it contains compounds that act as phytoestrogens. This traditional Native American remedy, however, is much more than a natural estrogen-replacement therapy. It is also one of our very best herbal antispasmodic agents. It also contains substances that have a sedative and anti-inflammatory effect. As a female remedy, it has a long history of use for painful periods (dysmenorrhea) and problems associated with menopause. It was also used during childbirth to ease labor and afterbirth pains. Specifically, black cohosh has a history of being used to treat conditions where women feel dark, moody and tense. It helps correct irregular menses, bring on late menses and relieve fluid retention associated with periods. Besides these female uses, black cohosh has also been used for other conditions involving pain and muscle spasms, including spastic asthma, whooping cough, rheumatism and arthritis, and high blood pressure.
Lobelia is one of the most powerful antispasmodic herbs available. It contains a group of piperidine alkaloids, lobeline being the principal one, and carboxylic acids. It has a powerful effect in relaxing smooth muscles and relieving muscle spasms. Lobeline blocks acetylcholine receptors (which stimulate muscle contraction) causing a profound relaxation through the whole body. It is suited to spasms that are debilitating and severe, associated with cramping pain. Thomsonian herbalists used it to ease pains associated with difficult labor. Eclectic physicians used it alone, or in combination with black cohosh for asthma, whooping cough, pain in the heart, and other spastic conditions.
Plantain is known amongst Native American’s as “nature’s band-aid.” The plant’s tannins reduce swelling and inflammation and its mucilage protects and soothes mucous membranes.
Take 2 Cramp Relief capsules two to three times daily. For severe, acute cramping, two capsules may be used every hour for up to six hours. It can also be helpful to take 800 to 1,000 mg of Magnesium Complex with this formula, as this also helps relax muscle cramps and spasms.
A Handbook of Native American Herbs by Alma R. Hutchens
The Wild Rose Scientific Herbal by Terry Willard
“Yams as Food and Medicine” by Kathy Keville. The American Herb Association Quarterly Newsletter, Fall 1994, p. 5
The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra