Musculoskeletal System Herbal Protocol


Illness/ Disease Definition

From Johns Hopkins Medicine:  “Many activities can lead to soft-tissue damage of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The result can be pain, swelling, bruising, and damage. Soft-tissue injuries are classified as the following:

  • Contusions (bruises)
  • Sprains
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Stress injuries
  • Strains

Athletes and non-athletes share many similar soft-tissue injuries.”

Etymology & Etiology

  • Ligament – A fibrous, elastic band of tissue that connects and stabilizes the bones
  • Tendon – A flexible band of tissue that connects muscle to bones.
  • Bursa – A fluid filled sac that provides cushion between bones and tendons or muscles.
  • Contusions (bruises) – A soft tissue injury resulting in swelling, pain, & discoloration; typically caused by blunt force trauma, such as a blow, fall, or kick. 
  • Sprains – A partial tear to a ligament typically caused by a twist or wrench.  
  • Tendonitis – Inflammation of a tendon typically due to overuse or repetitive motion
  • Bursitis – Inflammation of the bursa typically caused by overuse or direct trauma to a joint.
  • Stress injuries – A small crack in a bone (usually in lower extremities) typically caused by an increase in physical activity and overuse
  • Strains – Injuries to tendons or muscles typically caused by stretching, force, or overuse.

Allopathic Treatments:

  • Over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers and/or muscle relaxants

Actions needed:  Analgesic/Anodyne, Anti-inflammatory, Antirheumatic, Antispasmodic, Connective Tissue Tonic, Circulatory Stimulant/Rubefacient

Arnica Montana
Anti-inflammatory, Antirheumatic, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Emollient, Expectorant, Immunostimulant, Stimulant, Vulnerary
Symphytum officinale
Anodyne, Anti-inflammatory, Astringent, Demulcent, Emollient, Expectorant, Hemostatic, Refrigerant, Vulnerary
Verbascum thapsus
Anodyne, Antibiotic, Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Antitussive, Astringent, Demulcent, Diuretic, Emollient, Expectorant, Narcotic, Nutritive, Pectoral, Vulnerary
Plantago major
Alterative, Antacid, Antibacterial, Anticatarrhal, Antihistamine, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antiseptic, Antitussive, Astringent, Demulcent, Deobstruant, Diuretic, Emollient, Expectorant, Hemostatic, Laxative, Refrigerant, Tonic  (Connective Tissues), Vulnerary
Mentha piperita
Analgesic, Anesthetic, Anodyne, Antibacterial, Anti-emetic, Antifungal, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Anti-ulcer, Aphrodisiac, Aromatic, Calmative, Carminative, Cholagogue, Choleretic, Diaphoretic, Nervine, Refrigerant, Rubefacient, Stomachic, Tonic
Rosmarinus officinalis
Antidepressant, Antimicrobial, Antirheumatic, Antispasmodic, Antiviral, Carminative, Cholagogue, Emmenagogue, Rubefacient, Stimulant (Circulatory & Liver), Stomachic
Hypericum perforatum
Analgesic, Anti-depressant, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antispasmodic, Astringent, Expectorant, Nervine Relaxant, Tonic (Nervine), Vulnerary
Polygonatum multiflorum
Anti-inflammatory, Astringent, Demulcent, Emetic, Steroidal, Tonic
Cimicifuga racemosa
Alterative, Anti-inflammatory, Antirheumatic, Antispasmodic, Astringent, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Expectorant, Hypotensive, Nervine Relaxant, Tonic (Connective Tissue & Uterine)
Zanthoxylum americanum
Alterative, Anodyne, Antirheumatic, Carminative, Diaphoretic, Hepatic, Irritant, Peripheral Vasodilator, Rubefacient, Stimulant (Circulatory), Tonic
Curcuma longa
Antibacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antiviral, Bitter, Carminative, Hepatoprotective
Valeriana officinalis
Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Calmative, Carminative, Emmenagogue, Hypnotic (Strong Musculoskeletal), Hypotensive, Nervine, Relaxant, Sedative, Stomachic
Achillea millefolium
Anti-hemorrhagic, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antipyretic, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Astringent, Bitter, Carminative, Choleretic, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Hemostatic, Hepatic, Hypotensive, Peripheral Vasodilator, Styptic, Tonic (Vascular), Vulnerary


  • Herbal salve (use separately or any combination of): Arnica, Comfrey, Mullein, Plantain
  • Oils for External Use (use separately or any combination of): Peppermint Oil, Rosemary Oil, St. John’s Wort Oil, Solomon’s Seal Oil
  • Tincture for Internal or External Use: Black Cohosh, Prickly Ash, Turmeric, Valerian, Yarrow
  • Arnica cream & St. John’s Wort Oil mixed together and applied topically. Turmeric supplement in capsule form.


  • Arnica- Potentially toxic if taken internally. Do not use on broken skin or open wounds. Do not use if pregnant. Keep out of children’s reach.
  • Black Cohosh- Do not use if pregnant – may cause miscarriage. Use with caution if you are taking medications to lower blood pressure.
  • Comfrey- Do not take internally. Do not use if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not give to young children. Limit external application of mature leaves to intact skin to 10 days.
  • Peppermint- Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not give to children under 5. Do not take essential oil internally.
  • Plantain- Do not use while taking the following medications: digoxin, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, Lithobid, or Tegretol. Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. Use caution if you are allergic to weed pollens. Avoid if you’ve had intestinal obstruction.
  • Prickly Ash- Do not use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or trying to become pregnant. Do not use while taking Antabuse, aspirin or other drugs containing salicylates, or blood thinners.
  • Rosemary- Do not use if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to become pregnant. Excessive amounts taken internally may cause poisoning.
  • St. John’s Wort- May reduce the half life of some medications.  Please check all drug interactions. Do not use if pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • Solomon’s Seal- Do not take internally except under professional advice. The aerial parts, especially the berries are harmful if eaten.
  • Turmeric- Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding; may cause miscarriage. Do not use if you have a bleeding disorder, bile duct obstruction, or stomach ulcer. Do not use if taking blood thinners, immuno-suppressant drugs, or NSAIDs.
  • Valerian-  Large doses may cause liver damage- do not use if you have liver disease.  Do not use if taking Antabuse or CNS Depressants or alcohol.  Avoid use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Yarrow- Do not use if pregnant or breast-feeding.   Long term use can lead to photosensitivity and rashes.  Use with caution if you’re drinking alcohol, taking CNS depressants, Antabuse, blood thinners,  or drugs that lower blood pressure.


  • R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate)
  • Epsom salt soaks.

References & Resources:

A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve.

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier, FNIMH

Foundations of Medicinal Herbalism, Teresa Boardwine RH.

Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Medical Herbalism, David Hoffman, FNIMH

The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines, Charles W. Fetrow, Pharm.D. & Juan R. Avila, Pharm.D.

The Herb Book, John Lust.

The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine, Daniel B, Mowrey, Ph.D.