Injury type: Acute/chronic

Category: Allied Health Options

Rating: No research

What is it?

Herbal medicine has been used for centuries across a wide variety of cultures in the treatment of various illnesses and ailments. Herbal medicine involves the ingestion or application of herbs or plant extracts that have been specifically prepared for medicinal use. Supplements are vitamins or minerals which have been prepared in tablet or liquid form designed to supplement deficiencies in dietary intake.

How does it work?

Herbs or supplements are thought to improve the overall health of the body to improve its healing capacity following whiplash injury. Several herbs are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. These herbs are potentially useful in the early stages following injury when there is more likely to be an inflammatory component to the pain. They may be of use to people who cannot tolerate anti-inflammatory medication for some reason. These herbs include devil’s claw, celery seed, meadowsweet, white willow, wild yam, guaiacum, angelica, and silver birch. Other herbs like chamomile are thought to improve the relaxation of muscles.

Is it effective?

There is a lack of robust evidence base to support the use of herbs or supplements for whiplash. However, there are low level research evidence on the effectiveness of herbs or supplements for whiplash. For example, a study1 which retrospectively reviewed 755 traffic accident patients reported that herbal medicine for breaking severe blood stasis (Tongdo-san) appears effective in improving symptoms, range of movements and change of pain. Additionally, when compared to total average, herbal medicines for resolving stagnancy and tonifying qi and blood, showed better improvements in symptoms and range of movements; and those for dispelling dampness and harmonising stomach showed a greater improvement in change of pain. Despite these findings, the independent effect of herbs or supplements for the management of whiplash still remains unclear as this research had several methodological concerns (e.g. cointervention bias, heterogeneity). Furthermore, this research had a specific focus on Korean herbal medicines which also limits its generalisability. 

Are there any disadvantages?

There do not appear to be any disadvantages of using herbs or supplements in the treatment of whiplash. Allergies or intolerances to herbs or supplements are possible.

Where do you get it?

Herbs are often prescribed by Naturopaths or Chinese medicine practitioners, who can be found in the Yellow Pages.


The use of herbs or supplements following whiplash injury cannot be recommended due to a lack of robust scientific evidence. More research is required.