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7 Herbal Remedies That Can Help Relieve A Stiff Neck, According To An Herbalist & Acupuncturist

Amber Scriven, M.S., LAc
Updated on March 30, 2020
Amber Scriven, M.S., LAc
Licensed Acupuncturist
March 30, 2020

How many times have you woken up unable to move your neck? What is it that we are doing while we sleep that makes us feel as though we slept pushed up against a rock or with our head on backwards?

Here are a few tricks that you can use to loosen that stiff neck and move on with your day as much as possible:


Heat is your friend.

First and foremost, it is important to remember the huge role that applying heat has in relaxing muscles1. In between using ice packs to numb the pain and reduce inflammation, you can use heat to bring fresh blood flow to the area and help your pain dissipate more quickly. (It's is a good opportunity to re-freeze your bag of peas, too!)


Sip on anti-inflammatory spices.

If you have been subjected to a cold or damp environment prior to your neck stiffness, you may want to try sipping cinnamon and turmeric in warm water to release the muscle contraction and bring down inflammation. Research has found that turmeric can help manage inflammation and muscle soreness, which can enhance recovery2, while the antioxidants in cinnamon have significant anti-inflammatory benefits3.


Topically apply herbs.

St. Johns Wort, valerian root, or vervain tea can be used to reduce pain. St. Johns Wort has been traditionally used to treat wounds and help alleviate pain4, while the anti-inflammatory properties of valerian root and vervain have been shown to reduce pain 5and aid in muscle soreness6.

These cooked herbs can be prepared as a warm compress and used on the muscle (or just wrap the wet herbs in an old pillow case and press on your muscle). If you're in a bind, you can try using chamomile tea bags7.


Try applying spicy herbs.

Try applying fresh horse radish or mustard oil to the muscle to help relieve stiffness, but only leave them on for a few minutes at a time to prevent numbness and burning.


Invest in some arnica.

Arnica as a homeopathic remedy or a cream can help heal the area quickly. Keep some stocked in your first aid kit, as it is good for all kinds of aches and pains!8


Celery can also have anti-inflammatory properties.

Celery has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, as research shows that taking celery seed extract can act as an analgesic (meaning pain relieving) and inflammatory agent9. While much more research is needed on the health claims of celery (and celery juice, for that matter), it might be worth trying to see if it works for your body.


Add some essential oils to the tub.

And finally, let’s not forget using the shower or bathtub with some essential oils such as rosemary, juniper10, lavender, pine11, or nutmeg12! These essential oils have been shown to reduce pain and relieve tension (plus, they can make your bathroom smell heavenly).

While it's always best to talk to your doctor about any pain you may be experiencing, these herbal remedies are a great place to start if you're looking for some holistic, natural tricks.

A final note: Muscles love to be warm, and they don't like being kept stationary. That said, with the help of a physical therapist or physician, keep trying to move your neck and take deep breaths; you can also use heat pads, warm compresses and warm, steamy baths if possible!

Amber Scriven, M.S., LAc author page.
Amber Scriven, M.S., LAc
Licensed Acupuncturist

Amber Scriven, M.S., LAc, is an acupuncturist, herbalist, food lover, health writer and yoga enthusiast (RYT-500). She's also the co-founder of The Acupuncture & Homeopathic Studio in California. She has a Masters degree in sciences and writes for various online health publications while running a multi disciplinary clinic with her mother treating orthopedic injuries, women’s health and sleep deprivation disorders. Read More: