If you are experiencing back pain, you know that it can severely compromise the quality of your life. You can feel jolts of pain in your spine as you stand, sit, and lift weights. It might be because of age, but it could also be a result of sitting in wrong posture for long hours or lifting weights heavier than the prescribed amounts.
According to experts from the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), you’re not alone, as 80% of the Americans experience back pain at least once in their lifetime. The statistics collected by the ACA, say that back pain is responsible for more than 264 million working days every year, which is two days lost per employee.
Back pain is usually not caused by arthritis, cancer, fracture, or infection but for non-organic and mechanical reasons. It can also affect adolescents, not just older people. Lower back pain costs Americans 50 billion dollars every year. So, what’s the solution? Not, painkillers like opioids that might eventually kill you. There are more straightforward, less expensive, and more effective remedies with no side effect. Herbs for back pain have been favorite for ages. Read on to find which ones are the best.
Herbs for Back Pain
Found in plants belonging to the Capsicum genus like Chilli Pepper, Capsaicin(1) has medicinal value. It is the component of Chilli Pepper that makes your mouth feel hot. It comes in various forms such as ointments, gels, lotions, films, sticks, or creams. These products are basically for the skin. Leaving the lotion on the surface for a few hours offers a tremendous amount of pain relief.
Capsaicin patches are applied to a numbed area of your back by the doctor and left for two hours. The effect of capsaicin patches remains for at least four months.
Substance P transmits the signals of pain from the peripheral nervous system to the central nervous system, making you aware of the pain. Capsaicin depletes substance P in two days after application. You will feel relatively that the pain of your back has reduced tremendously.
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US-based the Spine Institute revealed that consuming ginger might help relieve back pain. The easiest way to incorporate ginger in your diet is to have ginger tea. You can also grate the root, wrap cheesecloth around it, soak it in hot water for 30 seconds, and place it on your back for 20 minutes.
Ginger works because it has phytochemicals with excellent anti-inflammatory properties, which relieve pain in joints and muscles. It promotes the circulation of blood and acts as a cure for nausea, headache, and cramps. Ginger also has no side effects in small doses and is readily available in the grocery stores.
Ginger helps treat nausea in pregnant women and even cancer patients. It is one of the best remedies for seasickness. It also reduces muscle pain and soreness. A topical application of the paste of ginger(2), cinnamon, sesame oil, and mastic can reduce pain and stiffness in muscles. Ginger also dramatically lowers blood sugar levels.
It also improves the risk factors associated with heart disease, especially in patients with type two diabetes. Ginger can also help dysmenorrhea, pain caused during the menstrual cycle. If clots are increasing, ginger, which thins the blood and increases circulation, can be of good use. It also lowers LDL lipoproteins, which are also called the “bad cholesterol” and are linked directly with heart diseases.
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This plant grows throughout the year and belongs to the daisy family. It has an acrid smell, and it is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, toothaches, stomachaches, and headaches. It is available as tinctures, extracts, and capsules. Standardized products have at least 0.2% of parthenolide.
There is not much information available about exactly why it works, but it has been a popular remedy for centuries. People report feeling much better after taking the herb. Besides, it doesn’t have any significant side effects. These herbs are not ideal for consumption during pregnancy.
Turmeric is a spice that has been used for millennia in countries like India for its well-known medicinal properties. Turmeric for back pain is a great diet ingredient. Capsules of turmeric are also available. Since turmeric doesn’t have many side effects, a study has shown that it is safe to consume up to 8000 mg of turmeric a day for three months. The ideal dose would be between 1125 mg to 2500 mg.
Turmeric has a chemical called curcumin, which helps fight pain because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies have even shown that curcumin is just as effective as pharmaceutical drugs and sometimes more. A meta-analysis of studies about turmeric concluded that there is sufficient scientific evidence to prove that turmeric extracts are indeed useful for pain.
However, turmeric contains only 3% of curcumin, which is quick gets eliminated from the body. The liver processes curcumin in two hours and removes it. There is not much absorption that takes place. According to observations, the incorporation of curcumin increases by 2000% when you consume it with black pepper. Turmeric supplements contain not only higher percentages of curcumin but also black pepper to enhance their effectiveness.
[Also Read: Turmeric for Reducing Back Pain]
5. Devil’s Claw
A suitable alternative or even addition to turmeric would be Devil’s claw(3). It belongs to the sesame family, and the seeds appear in a flowering plant. It has been used in Sub Saharan Africa for thousands of years as a painkiller. It is useful when taken in the form of tablets of about 500 mg. It works even when taken in much smaller amounts of 50-100 mg. Daily doses of up to 2600 mg appear to be safe.
Devil’s claw is also known to contain anti-inflammatory properties which relieve back pain. It also eases symptoms of gout, promotes weight loss, improves osteoarthritis, and reduces inflammation in all parts of the body. It is because it contains iridoid glycosides, especially harpagoside, which many studies have shown to heal inflammation.
Clove is a perfect home remedy for toothache. Not many people know that it can also cure back pain. It can be more effective when you consume it in your diet. It can also be used on your back, applied in the form of clove oil.
Clove, which forms on the Eugenia Caryophyllata plant, has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties that relieve pain. This spice also kills bacteria, fungi, and viruses. These are the functions of the chemical called eugenol. Clove essential oil is quite inexpensive and also very beneficial.
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7. Willow Bark
The White willow bark has been a remedy for centuries to relieve fever, inflammation, and back pain. Earlier people used to chew the bark itself to alleviate their symptoms. Nowadays, it is available as a dried herb which can be used to make tea. It is also sold as capsules and in liquid form as extracts. Avoid excess of willow bark. It can be poisonous for children.
Salicin that comes in the willow bark is the same compound found in aspirin, and this explains why it works so well. Salicin has anti-inflammatory properties, and since the cause of most types of pain is inflammation, it works in most cases.
8. Cramp Bark
Cramp Bark is also known as cranberry bush; this herb is popular due to its ability to treat spasms in the back and uterine pain. It comes in the form of liquid extracts, tinctures and also capsules. Native Americans consume cramp bark since ancient time. People in America smoke Cramp bark as an alternative for tobacco. Most people find it challenging to identify Cramp bark and Black Haw, which is also sometimes referred to by the same name. As the name suggests, it is used to relieve pain from all sorts of cramps. For acute pain, 30 drops of the tincture can be taken every hour until the pain subsides.
Cramp bark contains chemicals that significantly reduce muscle spasms. They also decrease heart rate and lower blood pressure. The bioactive compounds are extracted from dried bark and made into tinctures.
As you probably know, back pain makes life very difficult. You can no longer participate in physical activities, nor can you be flexible and agile. Your movement is heavily restricted and constrained. You should get some help immediately. Sometimes, there are no specific causes for back pain, poor posture, and repetitive bending can result in back pain.
It has become widespread because of desk jobs and smartphone use. That is why neck pain and headache often accompany back pain. Are you suffering from chronic back pain? You should avoid lifting heavy objects, as this may exacerbate the condition and lead to injuries. You might have heard about passive treatments for back pain such as heat, ice, or ultrasound.
Many people have tried it too. Not only are these treatments time-consuming, but they are also temporary. Another course of action that people with back pain take is inaction. It might seem like the pain will go away. But if it has lasted for months, it is probably a sign that it won’t go away until you have done something about it. Exercise, when combined with nutritional supplements, are very efficient in reducing back pain.
Herbs are much safer than painkillers as they are naturally occurring and have little side effects. Herbs are hidden treasures of the plant kingdom with medicinal properties, many of which are still under exploration and documentation. However, there is a strong oral history of indigenous people that suggests that these herbs do have a value that the scientific community has only now begun to discover.
Despite carrying out several studies in recent times, there is no evidence that these herbs contain bioactive compounds that have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. People who have used these herbs for back pain have confirmed their ability to heal. Therefore, research in this area is being encouraged by some governments and corporates.
1. What Are the Other Natural Remedies That Can Treat Back Pain?
Apart from the list of herbs mentioned above, you can also use rosemary essential oil, eucalyptus peppermint essential oil, and lavender essential oil. These essential oils treat the back when gently massaged. Directly inhaling these oils also brings some amount of pain relief. Research suggests that these oils can be used in the area of the body as the pain relieving anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
2. What Are the Most Common Herbs Used for Back Pain?
The most common herbal remedies for back pain or any discomfort caused due to inflammation are ginger, clove, turmeric and willow bark. As mentioned in the article above, all of these herbs contain anti-inflammatory properties. These are the most commonly and widely available and accessible herbs for back pain all over the world. Most of the scientific researches mainly deal with these herbs.
3. How Does Acupuncture Help Relieve Back Pain?
The journal Spine published a study in 2008, which stated that it had found “evidence that states supplements such as acupuncture can be useful in treating other forms of conventional therapy.” After analyzing data collected from more than 6500 patients, the authors concluded that they had found “evidence that the effectiveness of acupuncture is more effective than any treatment.”
The idea of acupuncture comes from the ancient Chinese medicinal system that pain occurs due to the blocked energy along invisible pathways, and when needles are put in temporarily along these pathways, the power is set free. Acupuncture releases neurochemicals, opioids, and hormones. Chronic pain will disappear if you undergo acupuncture thrice in a week for several weeks initially. Some insurance companies cover it and are tax deductible. When herbs for back pain are used along with acupuncture, the results are astonishing.