Oh the aches and pains of trying to get back into shape! Legs twitching, glutes clenching, and random charlie horses abound. Perhaps cramp bark is a remedy for you to try?
Cramp bark is a native of Europe, northern Africa and central Asia, but has been naturalized here in the US. It grows to about four to six feet high and cultivated for a lot of ornamental uses. It is very popular in Ukraine, where it is featured in a lot of folk art (i.e. embroidery, etc). It is a throwback to the days of the Slavic pagans, who thought it a symbol related to the "fire trinity" (birth of the sun, moon and stars). It's berries were said to represent the blood lines and the indestructibility of family traces.
Modern herbalists use it to relax various muscle spasms and muscle pain. With the CDC estimating that more than 7,000 death annually are being caused by OTC NSAIDS, cramp bark can be of great benefit when looking for natural alternatives to ease gall bladder like pain, menstrual cramping, random muscle pain, and more.
While cramp bark is popular in tinctures, both in alcohol and glycerin, it is also found in encapsulated formulas, and decoctions (teas). Warming spices, like cinnamon or cloves, may be added to mask the acrid taste.
Suggested dosages according to the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia monograph:
Powder: 1-4 g or as needed
Decoction: 1 g per 1 cup water. 2-3 cups daily
Tincture (1:5; 45% to 55%): 2-4 mL 3 times daily
Fluid extract: (1:1; 45% to 55%)
Young girls: 10-30 drops daily
Adults: up to 1/2 tbsp as needed
The American Herbal Pharmacopoeia says that there is no known contraindication or toxicity associated with cramp bark. Other herbalists list the following special considerations:
Avoid if allergic to aspirin
Avoid for small children
Might aggravate tinnitus
Avoid use with blood thinners
May lower blood pressure