7 Surprising Over The Counter Muscle Relaxers

This post will examine over the counter products and foods that may be beneficial in providing muscle relaxation.  I will also explore the reasons for utilizing muscle relaxants.  Products that might help which don’t require a visit to the doctor are listed below.


Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Why Take A Muscle Relaxant?

Muscle relaxants are used most commonly for acute pain or spasms related to muscles.  They are primarily indicated for short term relief.   Muscle relaxants are often combined with pain relievers.  Prescription muscle relaxers have many side effects associated with their use.  These include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry Mouth
  • Weakness
  • Depression

There are products available over the counter, which may help relieve muscle symptoms.  These products may have fewer adverse effects than prescription muscle relaxants.  The following products are available:


Curcumin is a substance found in turmeric, ginger and cinnamon.  This substance is known to possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.  Analgesic effects have been reported at doses of 1.5g to 2g per day.  Eating foods prepared using curcumin-containing elements may also help with muscle relaxation.  Curcumin can be purchased by clicking the link below:



Magnesium is a trace element found in many foods such as avocados, almonds, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, squash, tofu and whole grains.  Magnesium helps regulate muscle contractions by blocking calcium and helping the muscles relax.  Low magnesium levels can cause muscle spasms and cramping.  Large doses of magnesium can cause diarrhea.  Magnesium is available as an over the counter supplement.


Blueberries are one of the superfoods.  Blueberries contain antioxidants and polyphenols.  Both of these substances are known to possess anti-inflammatory effects.  Decreasing inflammation can lead to muscle relaxation and improved recovery after exercise.


Protein ingested after exercise can reduce muscle inflammation.  A review article by Kohne et al. stated “Blueberry and Protein (whey and casein) supplementation interventions in females appear to improve muscle performance indicators”


Another study by Saunders et al concluded that the combination of carbohydrate and protein supplementation during marathon running improved soreness, energy and fatigue at 72 hours but not at 24 hours.  They also found similar results in a smaller sample who consumed protein after exercise.  2 

Cherries and Pomegranates

A review published by Kelley, et al. found the consumption of cherries to be beneficial for reducing inflammation and exercise-induced soreness.  More studies are needed to confirm these findings.


Pomegranate juice also contains polyphenols.   The anti-oxidant effects of pomegranate are potentially three times higher than that of green tea.   Ammar et al. concluded pomegranate juice could accelerate muscle recovery in elite weight lifters.4 


Chamomile is an herb that has been used to treat many conditions, including muscle spasms.  Chamomile contains flavonoids which possess anti-inflammatory properties.  It is available as a tea as well as an essential oil.  Chamomile essential oil can be massaged onto affected muscles to provide relief from spasms. This  tea may help relax muscles.  Chamomile is known to interact with warfarin, aspirin and other NSAID’s.  If combined with these medications, chamomile may increase bleeding risk.

Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil contains menthol, and some evidence supports its use as a topical analgesic agent.  It may also have muscle relaxation effects.5 

The foods and supplements covered in this post are just some of the options available without a prescription.  

 Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin) are available over the counter.  These are more useful for pain than the supplements discussed above.  Unfortunately, acetaminophen is ineffective for inflammation and ibuprofen can cause adverse effects such as bleeding and kidney damage, especially if used long term.  Acetaminophen and ibuprofen also do not possess muscle relaxant properties. 

Antioxidant foods, teas and supplements can help with muscle spasms and pain when added to a healthy diet.  These may be obtained without visiting a physician.   If you are taking prescription medications, always check with a doctor or pharmacist before starting a new supplement.

If you have any questions regarding this post or anything related to medications or supplements, please feel free to contact me by clicking the link below.  


As always, have a happy, healthy, healing life and


Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.


  1. Köhne JL, Ormsbee MJ, McKune AJ. Supplementation Strategies to Reduce Muscle Damage and Improve Recovery Following Exercise in Females: A Systematic Review. Sports (Basel). 2016;4(4):51. Published 2016 Nov 11. doi:10.3390/sports4040051

  2. Saunders MJ, Luden ND, DeWitt CR, Gross MC, Dillon Rios A. Protein Supplementation During or Following a Marathon Run Influences Post-Exercise Recovery. Nutrients. 2018;10(3):333. Published 2018 Mar 10. doi:10.3390/nu10030333

  3. Kelley DS, Adkins Y, Laugero KD. A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries. Nutrients. 2018;10(3):368. Published 2018 Mar 17. doi:10.3390/nu10030368

  4. Ammar A, Turki M, Chtourou H, et al. Pomegranate Supplementation Accelerates Recovery of Muscle Damage and Soreness and Inflammatory Markers after a Weightlifting Training Session. PLoS One. 2016;11(10):e0160305. Published 2016 Oct 20. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0160305

  5. De Cássia da Silveira e Sá, R.; Lima, T.C.; Da Nóbrega, F.R.; De Brito, A.E.M.; De Sousa, D.P. Analgesic-Like Activity of Essential Oil Constituents: An Update. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 201718, 2392.