What is an Anti-Spasmodic?

The anti-spasmodics prevent or ease spasms or cramps in the muscles of the body. They will reduce tension in the body, and, as many of the anti-spasmodics are also nervines, they will sometimes ease psychological tension as well. Many of the herbal remedies that are described as nervines, sedatives or hypnotics also act as anti-spasmodics. The term is synonymous with spasmolytic.

How Anti-Spasmodic Work

There are general anti-spasmodics that reduce muscle spasming through out the body, and there are those that specifically work on certain organs or systems. The anti-spasmodics relax the autonomic nervous systems and necessarily the central nervous system. This allows a physical relaxation of muscles without a sedation effect upon consciousness. When this action is needed in the gut, the carminative herbs will often do exceedingly well. The relaxing expectorants have a localized anti-spasmodic effect in the respiratory system, but this might have a broader effect upon the body.

Anti-Spasmodics for Different Parts of the Body

Circulatory system: European Mistletoe, Motherwort, Crampbark, Black Cohosh, Balm, Lavender, Ladies Slipper and Valerian are important here.

Respiratory system: A range of anti-spasmodics are useful for the Respiratory system and include Wild Lettuce, Wild Cherry, Lobelia, Grindelia, Pill Bearing Spurge, Elecampane, Thyme, Aniseed, Angelica root, Oregano, and Garlic.

Digestive system: All the carminative herbs tend to act this way in the gut, and hepaticas can have such an action in gallbladder problems. Specific herbs to consider are Chamomile, Crampbark, Valerian, Hops, Peppermint, Sage, Thyme, Dill, Fennel, Barberry & Wild Yam.

Urinary system: Here we can think of Crampbark, Black Haw, Sea Holly, and Wild Carrot.

Reproductive system: Here Crampbark and Black Haw come into their own. The nervine anti-spasmodics such as Pasque Flower, Valerian, Ladies Slipper and Skullcap are helpful.

Muscles and skeleton: The main muscle relaxant remedies include Crampbark, Black Haw, Valerian and Skullcap. Externally Lobelia can be most helpful.

Nervous system: Consult the section on nervines for more information.

Skin: Anti-Spasmodics are not directly relevant here.

Anti-Spasmodics of All Types


Angelica archangelica


Lavandula officinalis


Pimpinella anisum


Tilia spp.


Melissa officinalis


Glycyrrhiza glabra

Black Cohosh

Cimicifuga racemosa


Lobelia inflata
Black Haw

Viburnum prunifolium


Leonurus cardiaca


Lycopus europaeus


Verbascum thapsis

Californian Poppy

Eschscholzia californica


Petroselinum sativum


Carum carvi

Pasque Flower

Anenome pulsatilla


Elattaria cardamomum

Passion Flower

Passiflora incarnata


Nepeta cateria


Mentha pulegium

Celery Seed Apium graveolens


Mentha piperita


Matricaria recutita

Red Clover

Trifolium pratense


Tussilago farfara

Red Sage

Salvia officinalis var. rubia

Cramp Bark

Viburnum opulus


Rosemarinus officinalis


Turnera diffusa


Scutellaria laterifolia


Anethum graveolens

Skunk Cabbage

Symplocarpus foetidus


Sambucus nigra

St.John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum


Foeniculum vulgare


Drosera rotundifolia


Trigonella foenumgraecum


Thymus vulgaris


Tanacetum chrysanthemun


Valeriana officinalis


Zingiber officinale


Verbena officinalis

Ground Ivy

Nepeta hederacea

Wild Carrot

Daucus carrota


Humulus lupulus

Wild Cherry

Prunus serotina


Hyssopus officinalis

Wild Lettuce

Lactuca virosa

Jamaican Dogwood

Piscidia erythrina

Wild Yam

Dioscorea villosa

Anti-Spasmodics & Their Secondary Actions

Alterative: Black Cohosh, Pasque Flower, Red Clover

Analgesic: Black Cohosh, Californian Poppy, Jamaican Dogwood, Passion Flower, Peppermint, St. John’s Wort, Valerian, Wild Lettuce, Wild Yam

Anti-Catarrhal: Betony, Catmint, Chamomile, Coltsfoot, Elder, Fenugreek, Ginger, Hyssop, Lavender, Linden, Mullein, Peppermint, Red Sage, Thyme

Anti-inflammatory: Angelica, Balm, Celery Seed, Chamomile, Coltsfoot, Elder, Hyssop, Lavender, Linden, Liquorice, Peppermint, Red Sage, Roman Chamomile, St. John’s Wort, Wild Yam

Anti-Microbial: Aniseed, Caraway, Chamomile, Hops, Lavender, Pasque Flower, Peppermint, Rosemary, St. John’s Wort, Sundew, Thyme

Astringents: Black Haw, Bugleweed, Cramp Bark, Ground Ivy, Hops, Linden, Red Sage, Rosemary, St. John’s Wort, Wild Cherry

Bitter: Chamomile, Hops, Mugwort

Carminative: Angelica, Aniseed, Balm, Caraway, Cardamom, Catnip, Chamomile, Dill, Fennel, Fenugreek, Ginger, Hops, Hyssop, Lavender, Motherwort, Mugwort, Parsley, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Red Sage, Roman Chamomile, Rosemary, Thyme, Valerian, Vervain, Wild Carrot

Demulcent: Coltsfoot, Fenugreek, Liquorice, Mullein, Sundew

Diaphoretic: Angelica, Black Cohosh, Catnip, Elder, Ginger, Hyssop, Linden, Peppermint, Rosemary, Skunk Cabbage, Vervain

Diuretic: Angelica, Bugleweed, Catnip, Coltsfoot, Damiana, Elder, Linden, Parsley, Wild Carrot

Emmenagogue: Black Cohosh, Black Horehound, Caraway, Motherwort, Mugwort, Pennyroyal

Expectorant: Angelica, Aniseed, Bugleweed, Caraway, Catnip, Coltsfoot, Fennel, Fenugreek, Liquorice, Mullein, Parsley, Skunk Cabbage, Sundew, Thyme, Wild Carrot

Hepatic: Vervain

Hypnotic: Californian Poppy, Chamomile, Hops, Jamaican Dogwood, Linden, Pasque Flower, Passion Flower, Valerian, Wild Lettuce

Hypotensive: Linden, Motherwort, Passion Flower, Scullcap, Valerian

Nervine Relaxant: Balm, Black Cohosh, Black Haw, Bugleweed, Californian Poppy, Catnip, Chamomile, Cramp Bark, Hops, Hyssop, Jamaican Dogwood, Lavender, Linden, Lobelia, Motherwort, Pasque Flower, Passion Flower, Peppermint, Prunus serotina, Scullcap, St. John’s Wort, Valerian, Wild Lettuce

Tonic: Coltsfoot, Damiana, Fenugreek, Mugwort, Scullcap, St. John’s Wort, Vervain

Vulnerary: Catnip, Chamomile, Elder, Fenugreek, Mullein, St. John’s Wort

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

Explore Wellness in 2021