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LIVING MEDICINE
      - using plants for health and wellbeing

Autumn 2009 - Week 9:
Bones, Muscles and Joints - The Musculosketelal System


                                              Also called locomotor system
                                              Consists of bones (skeleton), muscles,
                                             and connective tissue (cartilege,
                                             tendons, ligaments, fascia)
                                             Provides form, stability, movement
                                             Bones store calcium, phosphorus,
                                             other minerals, components for blood
                                             cell production
                                             Difficult to diagnose disorders because
                                             interlinked with circulatory and nervous
                                             systems (and skin)



                                        Most people affected at some state in their life
                                        by musculoskeletal problems
                                           • These range from mechanical injuries –
                                              muscle aches, sprains and strains, back
                                              problems – to serious autoimmune
                                              conditions and degenerative diseases
                                           • Herbs can help greatly with
                                              inflammation and pain management
                                           • herbal treatments work well in
                                              conjunction with other therapies –
                                              physiotherapy, massage, osteopathy,
                                              etc. - important to address underlying
                                              problem!

                                        You must seek professional help before taking
                                        herbs if you are already taking medication for
                                        any other medical condition!




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See your doctor if you have :
                              •   Headache, nausea or dizziness following any head injury
                              •   Severe, worsening back or joint pain
                              •   After a fall, any severe swelling, pain or loss of movement
                              •   Persistent pain or ache in joints or muscles accompanied by general
                                  feeling of being unwell
                              •   Sudden numbness, tingling or weakness anywhere in the body that
                                  persists for more than a few minutes



Other useful ideas
Because circulation affects muscles and joints:
   • Circulatory herbs e.g. Nettle, Ginger, Hawthorn, Ginkgo
   • Detoxifying herbs
   • Topically – massage, warm baths with essential oils
Because nervous tension affects muscles and joints:
   • Nervous system herbs, e.g. Valerian, Oats, St John’s wort,
      Lime flowers
   • Relaxation techniques, gentle exercise – tai chi, yoga,
      meditation, visualisation
   • Calming essential oils – Lavender, Rose (also in creams)



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Herbs for musculoskeletal problems

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
    •   Can be collected wild in UK; topical use only!
    •   Also useful for bruising, sprains, fractures – old name “Knitbone”
    •   Very useful where skin also broken (so arnica not an option)
    •   Leaves may be used directly as poultice, or made into infusion - soak
        cloth in strong infusion and apply warm over affected area
    •   Use leaves to make infused oil (see week 2), as basis for ointment,
        cream
    •   Comfrey ointment (week 7) is a great basis for treating all sorts of injuries – adapt
        according to need (e.g. using e.o.s or tinctures)


Arnica (Arnica montana)
                                                            Found all over Europe, N. America,
                                                             mountainous areas; not UK; wild now
                                                             scarce
                                                              Flower heads used medicinally -
                                                             usually as fluid extract or tincture
                                                          EXTERNAL USE ONLY – toxic!
                                                              Analgesic, wound healing, venous
                                                             tonic
                                                              Apply topically as first aid for
                                                             bruises, sprains, rheumatic pains in
                                                             joints/muscles, varicose veins
                                                              Can be mixed with other herbs for
                                                             topical use – e.g. Comfrey, Capsicum,
                                                             St John’s wort
       Suitable for all ages and in pregnancy (on unbroken skin)




Chilli (Capsicum species)
    •   Origin C. America
    •   Fruit and seeds used – capsaicin also extracted commercially
    •   Pungent, warming, circulatory stimulant, topical spasmolytic, analgesic
    •   “Counter-irritant”
    •   Useful in muscle or nerve pain, arthritis, inflammatory conditions
    •   As infused oil or tincture, in base cream/lotion (see recipe)




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 Capsicum cream
 Eases muscle aches, joint and nerve pain
 NOT for use on broken skin or mucous membranes; wash hands after use!
 15g base cream (or Comfrey cream)
 7.5 ml capsicum infused oil
 3 ml Devil’s claw tincture or 3 g Arnica cream
 3 drops each Rosemary, Ginger & Black Pepper essential oil




Guelder rose – “Cramp bark” (Viburnum opulus)
    •   Indigenous to USA and Canada, common
        decorative garden shrub
    •   Bark used as antispasmodic, muscle
        relaxant
    •   Useful for any muscle cramps – limbs
        (e.g. after sports) and uterine (e.g. Period
        pain)
    •   Use as tincture (1:2) 0.75 – 2 ml 2 x daily.




                                 Celery seed (Apium graveolens)
                                 • Seed used medicinally to treat gout,
                                   osteoarthritis, rheumatic pain, aches
                               • Diuretic, detoxifying herb
                               • Enhances elimination of metabolic waste –
                                   role in inflammation
    •   Combine with anti-inflammatory herbs for arthritis, joint
        inflammation
    •   Combine (50:50) with nettle leaf (tea) for gout
    •   Low dose only in pregnancy; not to be taken when breastfeeding or with kidney problems
    •   Take as tincture (1:2) 1.5-3 ml in water 1-3 x daily; or as tea 1.5-9g/day – infuse 1 hour



Essential oils
                         •    Many essential oils are useful in combating pain, relieving spasm and
                              cramp and promoting healing
                         •    These include:
                         •    Rosemary, Wintergreen, Ginger, Black pepper, Bay, Peppermint,
                              Lavender




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Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis
    •   Do not use in pregnancy or under 3s
    •   Rosemary essential oil warming, circulatory stimulant
    •   Useful for muscle pain, tension
    •   5 drops e.o. in bath
    •   10 drops e.o. to 30 g cream (e.g. Comfrey), rubs, ointments
    •   Half dose for children 10-16, quarter dose children 3-9


                              Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
                              •   Not for use in pregnancy or under 3s
                              •   Topically muscle-relaxing, cooling, analgesic
                              •   Apply e.o. with arnica or comfrey cream for bruising, sprains, after a
                                  fall, etc.
                              •   Dose 5-10 drops e.o. In 30 g cream (half dose for children 10-16,
                                  quarter dose for children 3-9


Wintergreen – Gaultheria procumbens
                                      •
                                     Not for use in pregnancy or under 3s
                                      •
                                     Small evergreen shrub native to N. Am, aka Eastern teaberry
                                      •
                                     Leaves used, can be taken as tea, but long infusion for
                                     medicinal use
                                 • Essential oil is analgesic, deeply warming, circulatory
                                     stimulant
                                 • Pungent smell – “Germoline”
    •   Ingredient in Chinese embrocations (“Polar Bear”, White Flower” – great for sports
        recovery
    •   Add 10 drops e.o. to 30 g comfrey ointment or cream – apply 2-3 times daily; or 5 drops to
        bath 1 x daily


Supplements
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
   • Root/rhizome used
   • Asian spice, related to Ginger
   • Anti-inflammatory for joints and muscles, anti-rheumatic
   • useful in arthritic conditions
   • also digestive weakness and skin conditions – e.g. psoriasis
   • Good in diet, but need to eat huge amount for medicinal benefit
   • 1-a-day supplement should provide 10,000 mg (95% curcumins)

Omega 3 Fish oils
  • DHA and EPA - made by marine microalgae, eaten by fish, accumulating in their internal
     organs (DHA can also be made directly from microalgae - vegetarian source)
  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet, useful for joint and circulatory health



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Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)
   • Ground-hugging, thorny plant from S. Africa
   • Well researched as anti-inflammatory, for arthritic conditions, pain relief
   • Caution with stomach ulcers, acid reflux - stimulates acid secretion
   • Take as standardized extract (tablets/capsules); for arthritis 1,200-2,500 mg /day

Glucosamine sulphate (or hydrochloride)
   • Supports body’s natural healing
   • Helps wound healing, restores connective tissue integrity
   • Especially useful in older people, or where ongoing tissue damage from arthritis
   • Take 1500 mg/day (with Chondroitin and /or MSM)


Common problems
    •   Bruising
    •   Sprains
    •   Muscle cramps
    •   Muscle pain
    •   Back pain
    •   Fractures
    •   Osteoarthritis
    •   Rheumatoid arthritis
    •   Gout
    •   Fibromyalgia
    •   Restless leg syndrome



Treating common musculoskeletal problems

Arthritic conditions (arthr-itis = joint-inflammation)
 Osteoarthritis – wear and tear, age-related; benefits from regular
   gentle exercise, good diet and inflammation control
 Rheumatoid arthritis – autoimmune condition, useful to have
   immune system professionally assessed; benefits from inflammation
   control
 Other e.g. psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile arthritis
   – Symptoms vary considerably, highly individual – so no “one-size-
        fits-all” treatment
   – Treatment is always long-term – most effective in consultation
        with herbalist
   – Inflammatory condition, so tackling inflammation at all levels
        helpful
   – e.g. ensuring essential fatty acids balance (esp. omega 3s from oily fish (supplement
        formulation - EPA 360:DHA 240), balance of minerals and vits from fruit and veg); adequate
        dietary fibre
   – Combating stress (stress can exacerbate inflammation, delay healing) – relaxant herbs like
        Valerian, Oats or Passionflower (see Nervous system) daily

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    – Anti-inflammatory & detoxifying tinctures/teas (e.g. Dandelion root, Liquorice, Red Clover)
    – Externally: Comfrey or St John’s wort ointment (e.g. with peppermint e.o.) for aches and
      anti-inflammatory action; Capsicum cream with warming e.o.s like ginger, black pepper,
      rosemary)
                              Gout
                              • Vegetarian diet, drink plenty water
                              • Celery seed and nettle leaf tea (or tincture)
                              • Cabbage leaf poultice – use rolling pin, apply leaves to joint and
                                  wrap in plastic bag; leave in place for 1 hour (crepe bandage
                                  can help hold in place)
                              • Avoid Capsicum and any herbs described as “warming”

Joint pain
    • Warming remedies: Baths, Capsicum cream, Wintergreen rub
    • Cream: add 5 drops each Wintergreen, Peppermint, Lavender EO to 50 g Comfrey cream,
       mix well and store in dark glass jar (up to 12 months)
Sprains
    • Arnica cream as first aid several times on day of injury
    • Rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE)
    • Comfrey poultice, cream or ointment after day 1
Cramps, muscle spasm and tension
    • Cramps may be mineral deficiency (or medications) – caution!
    • Circulatory stimulants, gentle exercise, muscle relaxants; essential oils in bath and rubs
    • Cramp bark (Guelder rose) tincture 1:2, 1 ml in water 1-3 times daily
    • Cream: 20 ml base cream, add 5 ml Comfrey infused oil and 5 ml Cramp bark tincture; mix
       well and store in dark glass jar for up to 12 months
Muscle pain
    • Circulatory stimulants, muscle relaxants, essential oils in bath and rubs
    • Capsicum cream – see recipe



Week 9 Tasting/Practical
    •   Tea tasting:
           – Peppermint
           – Ginger
    •   Other: Tincture: Devil’s claw, Cramp bark
    •   EOs Wintergreen, Rosemary, Bay, Peppermint, Ginger, Black pepper
    •   Practical
        - making Capsicum cream using infused oil made in class + base cream + e.o.s (see recipe)




Floramedica Herbal Medicine              www.floramedica.org                     mail@floramedica.org

				
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posted:12/5/2009
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