Thursday, January 18, 2018

Alternative Therapies for Back Pain

back-painWillow was the original herbal aspirin, thanks to several compounds it contains, among them, salicin. A century ago, the Bayer Company tinkered with salicin and eventually produced acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin, the first nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Aspirin is still a mainstay medication for many people during the first day or two of back pain.

Willow Bark for Back Pain

The typical cup of willow bark tea contains about two teaspoons of powdered bark (approximately 5 g), according to noted pharmacognosist (natural product pharmacist) Varro Tyler, Ph.D., recently retired from a distinguished professorship at Purdue University. But it takes considerably more to yield the pain-relieving punch of two standard aspirin tablets. So don’t expect miracles from a single cup of willow bark tea, or even a few. Nonetheless, says Maryland botanist/herbalist James Duke, Ph.D., author of The Green Pharmacy, “willow bark tea provides some relief from back pain. And it’s less likely than aspirin to upset your stomach, so it might be the better choice for some people.”

Devil’s Claw Root for Back Pain

An extract of devil’s claw root (Harpagophytum procumbens) is a traditional folk remedy for the pain of musculoskeletal problems, including bad backs. Animal studies suggest that it has pain-relieving action. This was recently confirmed by German researchers at the University Hospital in Heidelburg. They studied 118 people with chronic low back pain who took mainstream pain relievers frequently. In addition, the researchers gave some a placebo and others devil’s claw root extract (two 400 mg tablets three times a day).

Over the following two weeks later, those taking the pharmaceutical drug plus the placebo experienced one pain-free day. But those taking devil’s claw reported nine. Devil’s claw root extract is available at health food stores and supplement outlets. Naturopath Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., president of Bastyr University, the naturopathic medical school near Seattle, recommends taking 1 teaspoon of dried powdered root or tincture three times a day.

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