The Global Burden of Disease Study stated in 2016 that low back pain is considered the single leading cause of disability [R]. Worldwide, nearly 10% of the population is affected. In the United States, nearly 50% of working citizens reported having symptoms of back pain each year [R].
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are the standard low back pain medications. However, it was reported that NSAIDs increase your risks of cardiovascular diseases, such as a heart attack or stroke, and peptic ulcer disease [R].
To avoid these side effects, many people have turned to natural treatments for low back pain that are backed by scientific data and research. Here are some examples:
This fatty acid is naturally occurring in our bodies as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent. There are a number of plants and animals that also produce this compound. Certain foods, such as soy lecithin, egg yolk, peanuts, and soybeans are rich in palmitoylethanolamide [R].
You can also get palmitoylethanolamide supplements that come in capsule, tablet, and powder form. Palmitoylethanolamide is marketed in Spain and Italy as a food for special medicinal uses [R].
Palmitoylethanolamide was first discovered in the 1950s and since then, researchers have been interested in studying its purpose and providing hope for people with neuropathic and chronic pain. Over 30 clinical trials have been done so far to confirm its effectiveness in alleviating pain [R].
In October 2015, the US National Library of Medicine published a study with 100 participants showing that a daily dose of 600 mg palmitoylethanolamide significantly reduced low back pain. In fact, at the end of the study, half of the participants no longer needed to take any additional pain medication [R].
Capsaicin is an active compound found in chili pepper extract. It acts as an analgesic and local stimulant that alleviates pain with repeated applications [R].
There are some clinical practices that use capsaicin as a topical treatment for chronic low back pain. The scientific rationale for its purpose is shown in the results of three random placebo-controlled trials: one acute back pain case and two chronic back pain cases. The result of each of these trials shows that topically applied capsaicin significantly reduced pain compared to the placebo [R].
Subsequently, a meta-analysis of two of these three random placebo-controlled trials showed that capsaicin significantly reduced pain by 60% in patients with chronic low back pain [R].
This activated form of vitamin B12 improves nerve conduction velocity and promotes regeneration of injured nerves [R].
TENS or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is a safe and non-invasive procedure that uses mild electric current to relieve pain.
An observational study with 33 patients with chronic back pain showed a pain reduction by 30% in 14 (42%) of the patients through TENS treatment. Additionally, 13 out of the 14 patients felt this reduction in pain within or less an hour of the TENS procedure [R].
There was also a double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 60 patients with upper back pain that showed pain alleviation after a TENS procedure compared to the placebo [R].
According to certain scientific studies, a massage was helpful in treating 401 patients with chronic back pain through improving back function. Getting a massage can increase your blood flow, block pain receptors, and help the body relax [R] [R] [R].
We strongly advise you to have a regular check-up with your doctor and lab tests (blood, kidney, and liver) at least every three months if you decide to take any herbal medicine or supplement mentioned in the list for long-term.