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Botanical Miracles


To gain muscle, a little stress is necessary and a certain amount of tissue destruction occurs that's the burn you feel

To gain muscle, a little stress is necessary and a certain amount of tissue destruction occurs that's the burn you feel. The body then rebuilds the muscle, adding a little more. The more you burn, the more you gain. You can even burn with a good stretch, as minute muscle fibres pull and tear.

Pain and muscle tenderness indicate muscle damage, which can also occur if you perform unaccustomed types of exercise or suddenly increase their intensity. When injury or overuse occurs, the best response is rest, so muscles can heal and the injury is not made permanent.

Promoting muscle growth is something that must be done gradually. Instead of a pounding exercise routine, take a brisk walk, making sure to stretch first. Inadequate stretching before exercise can add to muscle soreness. After a good workout, be sure to stretch fully again. A few light stretches just before bedtime will also help prevent cramping. And almost any muscle soreness can benefit from natural botanicals and vitamins.

Aloe vera's beneficial effects in healing injuries are so miraculous as to seem more like myth than fact. In both animal and human studies, a University of Texas research team confirmed aloe vera is a substance of "enormous therapeutic potential." It penetrates injured tissue, relieves pain, is anti-inflammatory and dilates capillaries, thereby increasing the blood supply to the injured area.

Turmeric is used in both Indian and Chinese medicine to treat many forms of inflammation. Its anti-inflammatory properties are likened to the pharmaceutical effects of hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone, only it's much safer. Curcumin, which gives turmeric its yellow colour, has been found to work better than ibuprofen. In one study on rats, researchers found 20 milligrams of curcumin worked as well as 200 milligrams of ibuprofen. No toxic effects from curcumin have been reported. Curcumin is a bioflavonoid and contains a large amount of vitamin C.

Bromelain, the active phytochemical in pineapple, is also recommended when muscles or ligaments are swollen and inflamed. Since you would have to eat two whole pineapples to achieve this anti-inflammatory effect, it's good we have health stores that carry bromelain extract. Bromelain is recommended as a supplement to be taken with the other anti-inflammatories since it acts as a digestive enzyme, helping to break down and assimilate other nutrients.

Ginger has been noted in studies to be useful in inflammation and rheumatism. Danish researchers evaluated 28 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 18 with osteoarthritis and 10 with muscular discomfort using powdered ginger. In the arthritic patients, over 75 percent had varying degrees of relief from pain and swelling. All the patients with muscular discomfort had pain relief. There were no reported side-effects when ginger was eaten regularly from three months to two-and-a-half years.

St John's wort oil rubbed into the muscle dilates the capillaries and helps relax tense muscles.

Yarrow relaxes and dilates blood vessels.

Silverweed juice supports the action of yarrow synergistically.

Rosemary in a warm bath is relaxing and a massage using arnica lotion or eucalyptus oil helps ease out cramps.

To build up the blood, drink an iron cocktail every day for a week. Combine two tablespoons of stinging nettle or spinach juice, four teaspoons of red beet juice and two tablespoons of yarrow juice; mix with grape juice for oxygenation.

Antioxidant Pain Relievers

Bioflavonoids, a group of substances related to vitamin C, have been shown in studies to speed the healing of bruised muscles not surprising, considering they are powerful anti-inflammatories. A report in Medical Times stated that athletes taking citrus bioflavonoids and vitamin C healed twice as fast as athletes who took either vitamin C alone or no supplements whatsoever. Another study found that injured football players who took 200 to 600 milligrams of citrus bioflavonoids daily returned to the game in one-fourth the time of those not taking the supplements.

One gram of vitamin C taken three times daily dramatically reduces muscle soreness after strenuous or infrequent exercise.

Vitamin E, too, helps alleviate the pain of sore muscles. A study at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, found vitamin E may reduce some of the muscle damage that occurs during vigourous exercise. Researchers studied 21 sedentary men, half of whom were given 800 IU of vitamin E for seven days prior to running downhill on a treadmill for 45 minutes. The other half was given placebos. After both groups exercised, the group taking the vitamin E had less damage to muscle tissue.

Muscle contraction during resistance exercises stimulates repair and growth of new muscle. Another double blind study at Tufts University shows that vitamin E can aid this muscle-building process. The researchers found that vitamin E supplements (727 milligrams) dramatically improved the repair rate of skeletal muscle after damage in people between the ages 55 to 74: the effects were far more pronounced than in a group of younger subjects between 19 and 22 years of age.



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Leah PayneLeah Payne