Today we focus on herbs as a natural anti inflammatory therapy for back pain.
I recently wrote about how black cohosh can be used for back pain. The article generated a lot of questions about black cohosh – whether the use was topical or internal. So this week I thought I would share some great herbs for back pain.
Typical Causes of Back Pain
Before we discuss relieving back pain, it’s important to understand why you have back pain in the first place. Herbs can help with inflammation and pain relief, but if you have an underlying issue that is being ignored while you use herbs, your relief will only be minimal at best and temporary for sure.
Back pain can start from any number of causes – misalignment of the spine, kidney infection or inflammation, poor posture, sitting too much, diet, lack of physical activity, or physical injury.
In most cases of back pain, herbs should be part of your therapy, not the whole. Chiropractors specialize in ensuring that your spine is in alignment and not infringing on your nervous system or twisting your muscles. Massage therapists can help work out knots in your muscles that can pull on your nerves and bones. Above all, it is important that you exercise and eat a proper diet to ensure that your back is strong and healthy.
Herbs For Inflammation and Back Pain
If you have figured out the source of your back problems and are working through them with the appropriate diet, lifestyle, and therapy, herbs can make a bad situation heal much more quickly than it would otherwise. Here are my favorite choices:
For Internal Use
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
I have used mullein leaf in a tea while undergoing chiropractic care for years. The root can also be used, which some find to be even more effective, but I tend to be well stocked in leaf and use that instead. It’s wonderful for people who frequently suffer with misalignments and need help with stability in their spine. (Find organic mullein leaf here.)
Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa)
Taken internally as a tea, tincture, or pill, black cohosh is a strong anti-inflammatory that has a specific affinity as an aid for back pain. (Find black cohosh root here, tincture here, and capsules here.)
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
In some cases, back pain can originate in the kidneys. When used internally, parsley leaf is an important diuretic (aiding in the removal of water from the body through the kidneys) and kidney tonic. It is even effective when taken for infections in the urinary tract.
Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus or V. trilobum)
Cramp bark is well known for its anti-spasmodic attributes. I have used this plant for all kinds of cramping. In the case of back pain it will excel when the pain is in relation to muscles that are in spasm. (Find dried cramp bark here or cramp bark tincture here.)
For External Use
Arnica (Arnica montana)
Arnica is used homeopathically as an internal relief of pain and would be helpful in this application as well, but it is the topical use of the plant itself that I like in the case of back pain. Many sore backs caused by overuse or injury can be easily solved with the application of arnica cream. (Find arnica cream here, or learn how to make your own arnica cream.)
Cayenne (Capsicum annum)
Cayenne peppers infused into an oil will result in a natural capsaicin remedy. As an oil, or made into a salve, this type of product will relieve the pain of sore muscles and joints. (Learn how to make an easy herbal infusion or read more about how to make your own healing salve.)
Burdock (Arctium lappa)
Years ago I was taken aback by a student during one of my weed walks who suggested the amish community in our area use the fresh leaves of burdock directly against the skin under their shirt to relieve back pain. I have used it in this way with good results. The root of burdock can also be taken internally as a tea, tincture, or pill for pain and stiffness of the lower back.
Have you ever used any of these natural remedies for back pain? If so, how did they work for you? Please share in the comments below!