Athletes are prone to a wide variety of “strain and sprain” injuries. Rather than turning to pharmaceutical remedies, which may be expensive and can have unpleasant side effects, sportspeople can use a range of natural remedies to treat their ailments.
The Arnica genus of flowering plants (including around 30 different species) has been used medicinally for centuries. It’s known particularly for treating strains, sprains, and bruises, all of which are common in sportspeople. In addition, clinical trials have shown that Arnica is an effective treatment during the onset of osteoarthritis and that it lowers the chance of postoperative swelling. Arnica is widely available in ointments and liniments. The name “arnica” may come from the Greek word for lamb, “arna”, due to the soft, furry exterior of the plants’ leaves.
Some recommend taking Arnica together with Byronia to reduce swelling. Coming from wild hops, Byronia is particularly effective in treating injuries and inflammations that cause particular pain when the affected body part is moved. If the pain is more acute when a swollen area is left alone, rhus or ruta would be more effective.
Also known to some as sumac, the oil of this small subtropical shrub is used to treat ligaments and tendons around joints that suffer from stiffness. The plant grows mainly in subtropical and temperate conditions, such as in Africa and in North America.
Ruta is derived from Rue, an evergreen shrub native to the Balkan region in Eastern Europe. It’s effective in treating tennis elbow and other types of repetitive strain injuries. It’s said to be particularly useful for treating injuries that feel worse in cold weather.
Buchu often hailed as a miracle herb for its potent anti-inflammatory properties is endemic to the Western Cape in South Africa. The plant has a pleasant aroma and small white to pink flowers, and its oil can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments. Thanks to the powerful naturally-occurring anti-inflammatories in the oil, it’s particularly effective in treating the sprains and strains common among professional athletes.
For use both externally and internally, Epsom salts are a naturally occurring form of magnesium sulfate. They’ve been used at various times as a saline laxative, osmotic purgative, and bronchodilator. More commonly, it’s added to bath water to soothe sore muscles.
This genus of around 400 flowering plants, including the well-known St Johns Wart, has long been used for treating acute pain, such as the pain arising from damage to the coccyx or spine.
Health practitioners in Singapore recommend soaking in a bath that includes about two cups of vinegar, to alleviate pain associated with post-match stiffness and aches.
A blue-flowering plant in the Boraginaceae family, Symphytum is known more commonly as comfrey. Another traditional name for the plant is “knitbone”, thanks to its traditional use in treating bone fractures. Modern studies have confirmed that the essential oils of the plant speed up the process of knitting and repairing broken bones.