While cooking Thanksgiving dinner, my thigh spasmed.

Then my lower back spasmed.

In some bizarre muscular cascade, everything below the neck got involved in the action.    Including my digestion (’cause my stomach, and your stomach too, is a muscle).

I gave it a few days to right itself, but when I woke up Tuesday morning feeling like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, I realized it was time for a visit to my favorite physical therapist, Erica Fletcher.

Erica’s gotten pretty used to my body’s antics.  As I went through the whole run-down of spasm and pain, she nodded sagely.

And asked one question.

The question was not, “did you twist in some odd direction while hefting the turkey into the oven?” Or, “did you try to carry too many grocery bags at once?”


Erica’s one question was, “Were you stressed about having Thanksgiving at your place?”

Well, of course I was.  It was my first time hosting Thanksgiving.

She nodded sagely again and traced a line around my hip and down my thigh.  “This,” she declared, “is a very emotional muscle.”


I already knew I had an emotional heart… and an emotional head… and an emotional stomach.  Now, it seems, I have emotional muscles.

So what exactly can one use for emotional muscle spasms?

Here’s my list of herbs to try:

Wood Betony:  there are two plants called Wood Betony and both are muscle relaxants and anti-spasmodics, and are otherwise useful in different ways.

Pedicularis groenlandica is particular to the muscles that we can move consciously.  It is great for relieving tightness.

The other Wood Betony, Stachy officinalis, is useful for tension held in the gut.  Catnip is good for this too, which puts both on my list for working with “emotional muscles’ (remember the gut is smooth muscle).

Kava makes the list because it works both muscle and mood.  Careful with this one if you have liver issues.  It was traditionally taken in coconut milk which leads me to believe that it has fat soluble components.  If you don’t feel like making coconut-kava tea, take your tincture with a meal that includes fats.  Kava gives my body the same warm, loose feeling that alcohol can without the mental stutter and the hangover.

Black Cohosh is an herb that I work with when the pain is upper back and neck but I am interested in its energy for moving an “emotional muscle.”  Black Cohosh is a mover of stuckness, a graceful lifter of the dark mood, and may be useful when your muscles get emotional.

In addition, I’m going to be sure to get enough B vitamins and magnesium in the next few weeks.  Both can be depleted by stress.  And magnesium deficiency and muscle spasms often go hand in hand.

How ‘bout you?  Do you have emotional muscles?  What do you use to calm them down? Comment below!

Big Hugs-