©2007 Peter Birch Because Hawthorn is rich in vitamin C and flavonoids it can help blood vessels stay healthy and, in turn, heal bruises.

Sprains result from over-stretching ligaments that surround joints. Bruises are the result of external pressure that's hard enough to break blood vessels. Sore muscles result from unusual movement or overexertion.

Luckily, nature provides remedies to heal these conditions and help you feel better sooner. Using herbal remedies that include vitamin C, wormwood and other items can help offer relief and help injuries heal faster.

Herbal Remedies for Muscle Pain

Bruises caused from light pressure indicate delicate blood vessels that could use some strengthening.

To help, eat produce from your garden that is rich in vitamin C and flavonoids -- both of which contribute to the integrity and elasticity of blood vessels. Such foods include berries of all types, including elderberry, hawthorn, and bilberry. Plums, citrus fruits, bell peppers, and broccoli are also rich in these nutrients.

Herbs that are chock-full of flavonoids include butcher's broom, nettle, Oregon grape, rosemary, and skullcap; try some of these in tea. Infusions of witch hazel, wormwood, and chamomile can also be applied externally to speed the healing of bruises.

Applying a compress of St. John's wort, witch hazel, wintergreen, wormwood, or chamomile can help a sprain heal quickly.

Arnica is one of the best pain relievers for sore muscles as well as sprains. Make a salve or liniment from this comforting plant. Several herbs, including valerian, skullcap, and rosemary, help decrease muscle spasms; drink tea made from them.

Black cohosh, chamomile, and mint applied topically decrease pain and inflammation. Lavender oil makes a fragrant and relaxing massage oil for sore or stressed muscles. Cayenne pepper, a warming herb, will increase circulation when used in a liniment. Increasing circulation helps in the removal of substances such as lactic acid that are produced by overworked muscles.

No matter which herb you choose, the many herbal remedies for muscle pains can help heal bruises faster, relieve sore muscles and decrease inflammation.

Eric Yarnell, N.D., R.H. (A.H.G.) is a naturopathic physician and registered herbalist in private practice specializing in men's health and urology.  He is an assistant professor in the botanical medicine department at Bastyr University in Seattle and is president or the Botanical Medicine Academy.  He is the author of several textbooks including Naturopathic Gastroenterology, Naturopathic Urology and Men's Health, and Clinical Botanical Medicine; He writes a regular column on herbal medicine for Alternative and Complementary Therapies.  This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.