Neck pain is the worst, and it can be the result of injury, or simply just sleeping weird. Let me preface everything I’m going to say with, if you have injured your neck in some way, please go see a doctor. However, if you woke up with pain, or your pain is from a tension headache or some other minor issue, this information on how to ease neck pain with herbs may help you.
As you get older, you may be noticing more and more pain in your body. It can be joint pain, muscle pain, pain from headaches, it doesn’t really matter–it’s there. This pain isn’t always something that you would necessarily head to the doctor for, as it’s really just pain that comes and goes.
Often, this kind of pain, since it can’t really be duplicated or explained, doesn’t get resolved at the doctor anyway. Perhaps this is the reason for all of the over-the-counter pain medications available to us. Over-the-counter pain medications work great to relieve pain, but they often come with side effects that you may not want to deal with.
While herbs also have what some may call “side effects”, those are really just herbal actions. In other words, it’s just how a particular herb works, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Still, this information is good to know, just in case an herb would interfere with a medication you are using, or aggravate a condition you presently suffer.
Using herbs isn’t difficult if you know how to make herbal preparations. If you’ve never done it before, please stop reading this article now and take a detour to this article, which will explain how to make a few very common herbal preparations.
Learning How to Ease Neck Pain with Herbs
One thing to really understand when making your own medicine from herbs is that much of the information you may receive is anecdotal. It’s not that herbalists (and aspiring herbalists, like myself) are just throwing herbs together just to see what happens, it’s just that bodies are different. Because of that, an herb that works well for me may not work well for you, and vice versa.
You may need to tweak these preparations to make them your own, adding different herbs until you get the right remedy for you. Keeping in mind that these are my remedies for how to ease my neck pain with herbs will give you a “jumping off point” to creating a proper remedy that works for you. Do consider keeping your own findings in a homemade materia medica notebook.
Willow bark tincture
Willow bark (also known as white willow bark, Salix alba) has been used for general pain issues since before the aspirin we are familiar with was even created. As a matter of fact, today’s aspirin, though now completely synthetic, was derived from willow bark. Willow bark is anti-inflammatory and promotes pain relief from headaches and neck aches.
Making a tincture is very easy, and uses very few ingredients. The first ingredient you will need is vodka, and a cheap 80 proof will do just fine. You will also need white willow bark herb (can be powder or the bark pieces). I like to make my tinctures in pint mason jars, but you can use other jars if you’d like. Just make sure the jar you choose is clean and dry before you start, and that you have a tight-fitting lid for it.
A very easy way to make a tincture is by using the “simpler’s method” as explained in Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar. Rosemary has some great information on the history of this method in her book, which I highly recommend. The short of it, though, is that it uses “parts” rather than weight measure. The parts come into play when you are combining herbs, but since we are using just one herb for this tincture, it’s not something we need to consider at this time.
Making the Tincture
For this tincture, you will pour about 2 inches of herbs into the jar, then cover with your vodka by about 2-3 inches. Seal the jar with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the herbs to sit in the jar for a couple of days until they settle, at which point you will decide if you need to top off your mixture with vodka. You would only need to do this if the herbs “grew” and absorbed enough of the vodka that they were no longer submerged. Allow to sit in a sunny windowsill for 4-6 weeks. Shake them daily or at least a few times per week, which will allow the herbs and vodka to mix thoroughly.
After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs from the liquid. Pour the liquid into a clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Will keep for many years if you store in a cool, dry, dark spot, like inside of a cabinet.
If you’d like to learn how to safely dose your tincture, here’s a great post about dosing to get you started.
Arnica and Wintergreen Balm
Arnica and wintergreen herbs are both used for muscle pain, and they are very good at doing their job. Here’s some good information about both of these herbs:
Arnica Montana: Flowers have significant anti-inflammatory and mild analgesic properties. When applied topically in a salve or ointment it promotes pain relief. It is suitable to relieve neck muscle inflammation.
Wintergreen: As far back as the 1800s, chemists discovered that the oil from the wintergreen leaves had properties similar to aspirin, which makes it great for headaches, plus it smells amazing. Its leaves and berries contain methyl salicylate, which is closely related to aspirin.
Making the Balm
To make the arnica balm, you can follow my favorite and much-used tried and true arnica balm recipe and during step 6, add 20 drops of your wintergreen essential oil. This sounds like a lot, but when you make a full recipe like my arnica balm, it turns out just right.
To use the balm, rub a bit of it on the affected area. My favorite way to use it is to slather it on the affected area and use a knit scarf to wrap my neck. This way, heat is applied to the sore area, and it keeps my hair out of the balm while it’s doing its work. I do this a few times per day in conjunction with willow bark tincture dosages, depending on the level of soreness I’m feeling.
Medicinal Massage Oil
- Try adding lavender essential oil if you are using your oil to relieve pain from a tension headache
- Add wintergreen essential oil if you are using it to relieve neck muscle pain
- Try adding marjoram if you desire to apply heat to your neck pain, as it is a warming essential oil
To use, massage some of your oil into the affected area in conjunction with the willow bark tincture, 3 times per day.