Musculoskeletal Disorders

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Antirheumatic and musculoskeletal herbs act internally and externally on musculoskeletal disorders by producing a slow but effective and harmless anti-inflammatory and analgesic action. Unlike anti-inflammatory medicines, which have many side effects, the most important of which is gastritis, antirheumatic plants are well tolerated when taken orally.

Revulsive plants also help to alleviate rheumatic aches. When applied to the skin, they produce irritation and reddening, which reduces the congestion and the inflammation of the internal tissues by attracting the blood which flows through them towards the skin.

woman getting treated by a doctor for musculoskeletal disorders

Musculoskeletal Disorders

Contusions – Contusions or bruises are traumatic injuries that generally affect the skin and under skin tissues caused by a violent crashing with a flat surface. Bruises do not have open wounds on the skin, though, in many traumas, bruises and injuries occur together.

Besides physical measures, with an application of cold, phytotherapeutic treatment consists of local application of vulnerary plants such as those mentioned here, which reduce the inflammation of tissues and ease the pain.

Herbs for Contusions

LavenderSilver firHyssop
LungwortYellow bedstrawBlack alder
AgaveWild balmStinking weed
Kidney vetchArnicaBlack briony
MilfoilBirchwortPrickly pear
Solomon’s sealSanicleHouseleek

Sprains – A violent twisting or distortion of a joint, which may even break muscular fibers or ligaments. Besides immobilizing the affected joint, local applications of these herbs in the form of lotions, massages, compresses, and poultices are highly effective. These external treatments are better and more effective than an intake of analgesic or anti-inflammatory medicines, which produce undesirable side effects.

Herbs for Sprains

LavenderSilver firPrimrose
LaurelWild balmStinking weed
Wild daisy  

Rheumatic pain is the pain or ache that afflicts any part of the musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles, ligaments, joints, tendons) with a certain degree of swelling. The musculoskeletal disorders usually causing this pain are arthrosis (degeneration of articular cartilages), arthritis, chronic articular rheumatism, and muscular afflictions such as torticollis (stiff neck).

These herbs with antirheumatic and revulsive properties ease pain and reduce inflammation when used internally and externally.

Herbs that ease Rheumatic Pain

LavenderValerianPine tree
PepperGerman chamomilePeppermint
MarjoramLaurelWild marjoram

Lumbago – This is a rheumatic ache located in the bones and muscles of the lumbar area, that is to say, the lower back area. Sometimes it is called kidney pain. However, it is not the kidneys that are aching but the area of the body where they are located.

Besides a physical and positional treatment, these medicinal plants, both internally and externally applied, significantly help alleviate lumbar pain and inflammation.

Herbs for Lumbago

ValerianMistletoeSilver fir
Pine treePepperLaurel
Devil’s clawRosemary 

Sciatica – This is a painful inflammation of the sciatic nerve. It manifests itself with pain in the lower part of the back, which extends throughout the buttock and the back side of the thigh. It usually affects only one side of the body. Both internally and externally applied, these plants alleviate neuralgic pain.

Herbs for Sciatica

Camphor treeMistletoeLaurel
Black mustardMeadowsweet 

Arthrosis – This chronic ailment consists of articular cartilage degeneration, mainly affecting the hips and the knees. Phytotherapeutic treatment not only alleviates pain but also exerts a preventive action on articular degeneration. Though its effects are not immediately perceived, it is highly effective in the medium and long term.

Herbs for Arthrosis

LavenderHemp nettleFenugreek
Black alderMeadowsweetDevil’s claw

Gouty arthritis – This is the inflammation of joints caused by uric acid deposits. The treatment comprises diuretic plants with uricosuric action and depurative and antirheumatic plants both internally and externally.

Herbs for Gouty Arthritis

GarlicLemon treeNettle
GrapevineWhite birchWild strawberry
Cherry treeMeadowsweetDevil’s claw
Mountain holly  

Osteoporosis – This ailment consists of a loss of the consistency and mass of the bones, making them more likely to suffer breaks and deformations. Osteoporosis is caused by hormonal and metabolic factors, which become more severe with a diet abundant in proteins or salt. Plants rich in silicon are a complement to the general treatment.

Herbs for Osteoporosis

Hemp nettleHorsetail

Rickets – This is a child’s ailment caused by a lack of vitamin D, which is responsible for calcium absorption. The following herbs complement the treatment since they improve the nutritional condition and promote the assimilation of calcium.

Herbs for Rickets


Disorders of the Feet – The following medicinal herbs, when locally applied, can alleviate many of the common ailments of feet. Hygiene and care of the feet are essential for diabetes or blood flow disorders in the lower extremities. In these cases, a simple bruise or wound on feet can become a severe infection.

Herbs for Foot Disorders

Blind nettleMilfoil

Sports – It is clear that sports are not included here as musculoskeletal disorders; however, the consequences of forced training can become severe. The following herb can prepare our body for the physical overload of sports training and are also practical help for athletes.

Herbs for People that Play Sports


Revulsive Herbs

These herbs provoke local irritation and redden the skin, alleviating rheumatic aches.

Hot pepper, also known as chili pepper and aji, is a tremendous revulsive substance, able to alleviate rheumatic aches such as lumbago. It is applied as poultices on the painful area.

NettleSilver fir
Black mustardCowslip

Antirheumatic Herbs

These herbs exert a preventive or healing action on rheumatic ailments. Rheumatic afflictions produce inflammation, pain, and rigidity in any area of the musculoskeletal system. Some of these herbs are internally applied, taken as herbal teas or extracts, while others are externally used in the form of hot poultices applied on the affected area.

VervainCamphor treeGarlic
Evening primrose Yellow goatsbeardMistletoe
HorseweedNettleSilver fir
GuaiacPine treePrimrose
Mother of thymeRoman chamomilePepper
Scurvy grassGerman chamomilePeppermint
MarjoramHemp agrimonySweet flag
Wild marjoramLilacFenugreek
Black alderChestnutApple tree
AgaveCeleryWhite birch
Wild strawberryJuniperDwarf elder
SarsaparillaRueBlack mustard
CowslipMeadowsweetAsh tree
Devil’s clawMountain hollyRosemary
White willowSassafrasIvy
Black poplarGarden raspberryThyme
rosemary extract

Rosemary alcohol is prepared by mashing a handful of green rosemary leaves, then putting them in a bottle with 100 ml of ethyl alcohol. After steeping for three days, strain the resulting liquid, rosemary alcohol. When this alcohol is applied in friction, it alleviates rheumatic and muscular aches.

In addition to calming digestive spasms and intestinal flatulence, wild marjoram is an excellent antirheumatic plant. When applied externally as essence massage or in poultices, it calms muscular pain of torticollis (stiff neck) and lumbago.

Massages with the essence of medicinal herbs have proven to be highly effective in calming osteomuscular aches.


George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 654, 655, 656, 657, 658, 659, 670. Print. [musculoskeletal disorders]

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