7 drug-free ways to relieve temporomandibular joint pain
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Alcohol has been linked to teeth-grinding. Although a drink or two may seem like a good way to relax, herbal teas are a wiser choice for people with TMJ.
What would you do if it were uncomfortable to talk, eat, or even kiss your spouse? For more than 10 million Americans with TMJ, that’s an everyday reality, according to estimates from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. TMJ is a disorder associated with pain in the temporomandibular joints (the joints of the lower jawbone), as well as the surrounding muscles and connective tissues of the jaw. “These two joints are used over a thousand times a day and make it possible for you to talk, eat, chew, swallow, sing, kiss, and make facial expressions,” says Cynthia Peterson, PT, author of The TMJ Healing Plan. People with TMJ commonly experience clicking and popping of the joints when opening or closing the mouth; headaches, neck aches, and earaches; and difficulties chewing, yawning, and speaking.
Causes of TMJ vary. It may be brought on by arthritis in the temporomandibular joints or a jaw injury. Many people with TMJ unwittingly grind their teeth at night (which can become worse when under stress), or have a misalignment of the teeth or jaw. It can even be caused by frequently chewing gum.
Traditional treatment involves over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and pain relievers, and in more extreme cases, surgery. A mouthguard is commonly recommended for teeth grinders. Supplements can also be very effective at alleviating TMJ, working to relax muscles and ease inflammation. Mark Stengler, NMD, coauthor of Prescription for Natural Cures, recommends the following:
Take 500 mg twice daily. It works synergistically with magnesium to relax tight muscles.
2. Homeopathic Magnesia Phosphorica
Take 3 pellets of the 6X potency three times daily to relax tight muscles.
Take a standardized product containing 70 mg of kavalactones three times daily. Kava relaxes the nervous system and tight muscles. It is also very good for stress and anxiety.
Take 250 mg two or three times daily. This mineral relaxes the nervous system and the muscles around the jaw. Note: Reduce dosage if loose stools occur.
Take 1,000 mg three times daily. MSM reduces muscle spasms and inflammation.
Take a 50 mg complex twice daily to reduce the effects of stress.
Take 3 ml or 300 mg three times daily to reduce the effects of stress. Editor's note: Both kava and valerian can cause drowsiness, so you may want to take one or the other.
Natural Vitality Balanced CalMag
Nature's Way MSM 1000 mg
Boiron a c Phosphorica
Nature's Answer Kava-6
Garden of Life mykind Organics B-Complex