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  • fromthefigtree



Let's talk a little bit about Sciatica. It is a very common problem that most people will experience in their lifetime to varied degrees. The Piriformis muscle is most often responsible for the compression of the sciatic nerve. You will often see it effected on one side of the hip and can be especially irritated if you are on the road a lot driving your car. Combined with the tension in your leg and piriformis contraction this can irritate the Sciatic nerve. Your sciatic nerve runs down your leg and up into the lower part of your back. So if you are feeling this, it could indicate a compressed sciatic nerve. Now if you have a lot of tension or injury to your low back it will often feel like it starts there. So when you think of decompressing that particular nerve, you would look at the health of your bones, muscles AND nerves. Here are some herbs that can help soothe and unfrazzle your nervous system. The following list will be herbs to help relax your muscles and reduce inflammation. As always self massage can help and this is where you get a tennis ball and roll it into the affected hip. Gentle Stretching or light yoga can also help to unclench these muscles and in turn create space in the joints and decompress your nerves. (Or schedule a massage with me right here )

Herbs for the Nervous system:

St John's Wort is both an EXCELLENT topical and internal medicine for nervous system disorders. Internally St. John's Wort is excellent for its calmative actions helping to reduce anxiety and agitation. It is most commonly known to help with depression and caution should be used if you are already taking medication for this issue. When I am harvesting St. John's Wort, I think of it as harvesting little reflections of sunshine in the summer (Around June 21) and saving them for the dark of winter when Seasonal Affective Disorder can loom over with its dark cloud. The tincture and topical oil is made using only the fresh flowers, and this can be expensive to purchase due to its labor intensity and short window of harvest, but you can harvest the flowers yourself to create your own remedies. Harvesting the fresh flowers will produce a lovely red product. The redder the better in this case. To use the St. John's wort for nerve pain you simply apply to the affected area through a deep tissue massage. I like to apply it once, then wait 5 minutes and apply it again to really let it sink in. Please note that St. John's Wort can cause photosensitivity when used topically or internally. (Another reason Why it is great to use in the dark of winter!) If you want a lovely tincture already made, that you can apply on the area and take internally check out Yemayas Apothecary and her St. Johns Tincture

Skullcap, Oh Skullcap and ode to skullcap!

“Little purple helmets,
protect my aching head
Little Bitter twilight
Help me sleep comfy in bed.
Soothe my frayed nerves
And my hard beating heart
From my head to my toes,
And every body part.”

This is One of my favorite herbs for a variety of reasons. I had an herbal teacher tell me this analogy back 20 or so years ago that skullcap tincture on your nerves was like a conditioner for your hair. It helps to soothe the frayed ends and leave the nerves feeling silky smooth. Well I still to this day picture my nerves being soothed when I take Skullcap. Skullcap is a wonderful nervine and sedative that can be taken in tea, tincture, capsule, juice and even topically as a poultice for helping with muscle spasms in a specific area of the body.

Muscle Tension and stress:

Heating pads and warm therapies (Hot Baths, Hot Stones, warm compresses etc) can be used to relax tired and sore muscles. Ice or a cold compress is usually only applied after an injury to prevent swelling in the area. Heat can help relax the body allowing for better circulation to an area that may be compressed due to muscle tension caused by stress or a heavy workout. You can create what is called a foment, a type of hot herbal compress to apply to the area to help provide relief. Try adding crushed rosemary and crushed lavender to a basin of hot water and use a thin towel to strain out the bulk herbal material to apply to the area of the body that is affected. Leave it there till it cools. You can take a hot bath afterwards with the remaining herbal water from the plants.

Magnesium: Feeling twitchy and having muscle cramps often? This is usually exacerbated by stressful situations. Often it can indicate a magnesium deficiency. You can take magnesium in supplements and you can even apply it topically by using it in spray, cream or even as a bath salt. Humboldt Herbals Carries all of them in the shop right now! Ask a staff member for more information on which is right for you.

Another Mineral that people turn to for help with twitching and cramping is Potassium. Unfortunately you won't find many supplements with anything over 99mg of potassium as it is not legal to have just potassium in high dosage pills. You can however find a very good amount of natural Potassium in Coconut water and Bananas

Kava Kava is an excellent analgesic, local anesthetic (So good for applying topically to a tooth when it hurts!) nervine, relaxant, and both a skeletal and smooth muscle antispasmodic. This is a deep tissue herb, when you feel like your bones are being crushed by the strength of the tension in your muscles, this plant may be for you. Used by the ancient Polynesians after war to promote Peaceful interactions, Kava Kava is a potent Herbal ally to help promote a feeling of calm after the storm. It is used topically and Internally and is prepared most often in Tea, Extract, tincture and capsule form.

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