A muscle relaxer is a supplement that can reduce tension and soreness in your muscles, leading to relief from tense, tight, and painful muscles, whether they are in your neck, back, arms, or legs.
A muscle relaxer can also help with menstrual cramps and neurological conditions that cause muscle spasms or tension, and may even help with fibromyalgia .
There are many herbal and nutritional supplements that claim to relax your muscles and reduce tension, but which ones work?
We’ve taken a look at your options and ranked the ten most effective muscle relaxers.
1. Vitamonk Relaxeril
Vitamonk Relaxeril has several key ingredients at high concentrations that stand a good chance of relieving muscle tension and pain.
The supplement delivers valerian root, passion flower, and chamomile as its herbal ingredients, but also includes magnesium and calcium at a solid dose to shore up your levels of these minerals, which are critical for proper muscle function.
Magnesium in particular is linked to preventing problems related to muscular tightness. Thanks to the high doses of both mineral and herbal ingredients, it’s our top pick for muscle relaxers.
2. Salt Wrap Mag R&R
Salt Wrap Mag R&R uses a combined strategy of supplying magnesium, vitamin B6, and a blend of herbal and supplemental ingredients to get your body to wind down, relax, and release muscular tension. The high magnesium dose will directly aid muscular relaxation, while 5-HTP and GABA help your brain relax, recharge, and unwind.
This supplement is best taken at night, given that it contains melatonin that will help you fall asleep—a very helpful addition given that tight and painful muscles often prevent you from being able to go to sleep.
3. BoostCeuticals D-Ribose
BoostCeuticals goes all-in on the simple biological compound D-ribose, which has been found in some studies to substantially improve symptoms of chronic fatigue.
By improving the condition of muscles and decreasing muscular fatigue levels, this D-ribose supplement promises to improve muscle pain and reduce muscular tension.
Given that it’s a ubiquitous biological compound that your body naturally synthesizes, the potential payoff is high and the risks are low, making this a great option to try.
4. Botanic Hearth Cosmeceuticals Muscle Jelly
Botanic Hearth Cosmeceuticals Muscle Jelly is a gel-based solution that you can apply directly to painful muscles. It contains a blend of aloe vera gel, capsaicin for pain relief, chamomile reducing muscle tension, and a slew of essential oils to soothe muscles.
Since you can apply it directly to painful muscles, it works great for localized pain, especially in muscles close to the surface of your skin, like those on the sides of your neck.
It is less well-suited for widespread muscular tension, or tension in deep areas like your hamstrings.
5. Crystal Star Muscle Relax
Crystal Star Muscle Relax is the way to go if you need a high dose of herbal muscle relaxers. It has nearly a dozen different herbal ingredients at high doses, and promises to relieve muscular tension and pain. It’s a good choice if the usual herbal and mineral combinations aren’t working for you.
6. Oregon’s Wild Harvest Muscle Relax
Oregon’s Wild Harvest makes a muscle relaxer comprised of a proprietary blend of the extracts of valerian root, skullcap tops, and hops, which are all herbal compounds reputed to help muscles relax, release tension, and feel less sore.
While many users attest to the efficacy of this supplement, these ingredients aren’t the most widely studied when it comes to their effects on your musculoskeletal system, so only try this if other muscle relaxers haven’t been working for you.
7. Dee Cee Labs Formula 303
Formula 303 works for a huge number of users, so by virtue of that alone it’s worth a close look. It’s a homeopathic preparation, but the concentration of the ingredients is actually high enough so that it might have some physiological effects.
The key ingredients in this supplement are valerian root, Passiflora extract, and magnesium, a key mineral for muscle relaxation.
Unfortunately, because this is formulated using homeopathic methodology, it’s not possible to compare the magnesium content to other muscle relaxer supplements.
8. Zen Nutrients VitaBack
Zen Nutrients VitaBack is specifically formulated for pain and tension in your neck and back. It achieves muscle relaxation through a combination of high doses of vitamins and minerals as well as supplements that target disc and joint health, like MSM and chondroitin.
Because back and neck tension is so often linked to joint and disc issues, this approach is likely to be particularly effective in the neck and back, though less effective at relieving tension in the rest of the body.
HylaRub is a cream-based muscle relaxer that will work best on the back and neck muscles. With hyaluronic acid to aid joint and disc function, it is likely to help with muscular tension that is caused by movement issues in the back and neck.
However, given that its only direct muscle relaxer is peppermint oil, it’s not likely to be very effective at muscular tension or pain in the rest of the body, and may not even help in the case of back and neck pain not directly linked to inflammation or degeneration in the discs and vertebrae joints.
10. LifeSeasons Pain Bloc-R
LifeSeasons Pain Bloc-R uses a mixture of a massive dose of vitamin B12 alongside caffeine, theanine, and a couple of herbal and biologically active compounds in an attempt to block pain and ease muscular tension.
Unfortunately, users don’t always find it helpful, and some complain about stomach irritation and jitters—possibly caused by the caffeine and theanine, which have stimulating properties.
While it can be good for supplements to take unconventional approaches, it doesn’t look like Pain Bloc-R works for everyone.
Muscle relaxer benefits and side effects
Muscle relaxer supplements can help relieve muscular tension, reduce pain, and soothe tense and irritated muscles.
They are useful if you have cramps, tension, or widespread muscular sensitivity caused by conditions like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
There are several vitamin, mineral, herbal, and biological compounds that can be used to relax muscles, release tension, and reduce pain.
If your muscle tightness is due to fibromyalgia, a muscle relaxer with D-ribose could relax your muscles and relieve your pain. D-ribose is just a metabolized carbohydrate, but it appears to have powerful muscle relaxant properties.
A clinical trial published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine by two researchers in Texas tested the effects of D-ribose on fibromyalgia related muscular complaints (1). Citing research that found that D-ribose can improve energy content in both skeletal muscle and heart muscle, the researchers set out to test whether this effect might lessen the muscular complaints of people with fibromyalgia.
A group of 41 patients with fibromyalgia were given a supplement with five grams of D-ribose to take on a daily basis, and the patients were tracked for eight weeks and filled out an evaluation of their complaints both before and after the supplemental intervention.
The researchers found that the D-ribose supplement was able to reduce muscular pain, increase energy, and boost overall well-being. Unfortunately, since this was only a pilot study, there was no control group, so it’s hard to rule out the placebo effect when evaluating these improvements.
Still, it’s a promising finding, and suggests that anyone looking for muscle relaxers because of fibromyalgia-related pain and tightness should consider adding D-ribose to their supplemental routine.
Chamomile can reduce inflammation and relax a tense and sore muscle. The chamomile plant, known primarily for its relaxation and sleep-inducing tea, can also act as a strong anti-inflammatory to cut down on inflammation and irritation.
For this reason, you’ll find it in many muscle relaxer supplements. According to a 2009 scientific paper in the journal Life Sciences published by researchers at Case Western University, chamomile is not only a strong anti-inflammatory, but has many of the same properties as analgesic anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) (2).
Using several experiments on cell cultures, the authors demonstrated that chamomile functions as a selective inhibitor of an enzyme called COX-2, which is an essential part of inflammation.
This enzyme is one in a chain of cellular reactions that create and promote inflammation at the cellular level, which is why COX-2 inhibitors, like naproxen and ibuprofen, are so commonly prescribed for muscle tightness and pain. But these traditional COX-2 inhibitors can be prone to cause side effects and are hard on your gastrointestinal tract.
This is why the Case Western researchers were so interested in chamomile, because it has the potential to significantly cut down on muscular pain and tightness without the negative side effects of traditional anti-inflammatory drugs.
A muscle relaxer with valerian root can reduce muscle tension and treat menstrual cramps and menstrual pain. Valerian root is an herbal preparation that has been used for centuries to treat muscular pain. New scientific research is now supporting its use as a muscle relaxer.
One study, published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, examined valerian root as a treatment for menstrual pain and cramping (3).
In the trial, 100 women were randomly assigned to either a valerian root group or a placebo group. The researchers then tracked the subjects for three consecutive days on two consecutive menstrual cycles.
They found that the valerian root significantly reduced menstrual pain compared to the placebo, thanks to its ability to reduce muscle cramping and spasming.
Including magnesium in a muscle relaxer can prevent cramping and relieve muscle pain and soreness. According to D.L. Bilbey and V.M. Prabhakaran, two physicians in Canada, magnesium deficiency is a common cause of muscular pain and tension (4).
Given the high prevalence of magnesium deficiency, Bilbey and Prabhakaran report, it should not be surprising that many people who are complaining of muscular pain and tightness are at least in part suffering because of magnesium deficiency. As such, a muscle relaxer with magnesium is far more likely to be effective.
Some muscle relaxers, like D-ribose, barely have any side effects worth noting. Others, like valerian root, have a more potent effect on the body, and do have a more notable side effect profile.
Valerian root, when taken frequently and at high doses, can cause problems, especially when you suddenly stop taking it.
A case report in the Journal of the American Medical Association described a patient who suddenly stopped using valerian root and went on to develop delirium and heart arrhythmias (5). While these effects are rare, you shouldn’t use excessive doses of valerian root for a long period of time.
The ideal dosage of a muscle relaxer is going to be dependent on the specific ingredients it contains. In the case of valerian root, for example, most clinical studies use a dosage in the neighborhood of 400 mg per day.
Magnesium content should be at least 100 mg to make any serious headway in boosting your magnesium levels. For chamomile, the most effective dosage appears to be between 400 and 1000 mg per day, though this is derived from studies that used exclusively chamomile.
When used in combination with other muscle relaxing compounds, the optimal dosage may be lower. D-ribose, since it’s just a metabolized carbohydrate, can be taken in much higher dosages (up to five grams per day). As such, it’s likely better taken separately, in addition to any other muscle relaxers you need.
A muscle relaxing supplement can reduce muscular pain, relieve tension, and soothe muscles that are irritated or inflamed.
Different muscle relaxer ingredients are better suited for different kinds of muscle tension and pain: D-ribose works very well for muscle issues related to fibromyalgia, while valerian root works to relax muscles that have spasmed or are cramping.
Valerian root is also well-suited for menstrual cramps and menstrual pain. Magnesium should always be considered if you have chronic muscle pain and tightness.
If you’ve got muscle pain and tension from an injury or inflammation, chamomile can function like a traditional anti-inflammatory drug but without the negative side effects.
If you choose the right muscle relaxer for your problems, you stand a good chance of getting relief from tight, sore, and painful muscles.