Every year it seems to come out of nowhere. I’m talking about the holiday season. Okay, you may think it’s a little too early to mention the holidays, but tell that to my neighbor Bill. He’s already climbing his roof and putting up his Christmas lights. It’s a big annual spectacle at his house. They even have a life-sized snowman on top of their roof!
The holidays can certainly be a stressful and emotional time of year. First you have Thanksgiving, and then, in another month, it’s Christmas, and pretty soon it will be time to ring in the New Year. Needless to say, it’s no wonder Bill is looking to start early.
However, Bill isn’t as flexible or active as he once was during his younger years. Yesterday evening when Bill was placing the gigantic snowman on his roof, I noticed he was clenching his lower back. Bill later told me that he felt a sharp pain in his lower back.
Bill is not alone with his back pain. In fact, 80% of Americans are thought to experience low back pain during some point in their life. Back pain is incredibly common, especially during the holidays. Many people like Bill are stressed when they prepare for the festive season.
Besides stress, there a number of likely causes of Bill’s low back pain, including a lack of physical activity, muscle strength, or flexibility. Other possible low back pain causes include poor posture, obesity, arthritis, osteoporosis, constipation, smoking, nutritional deficiencies, and kidney, bladder, pelvic, and prostate disorders.
Evidence Supports Homeopathic Remedies for Back Pain
Bill asked for some advice about natural remedies for low back pain. You see, he is tired of the annoying side effects that are commonly present with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like “Aleve” (naproxen) or “Motrin” (ibuprofen). Bill experiences troublesome side effects such as constipation, diarrhea, nausea, headaches, and even vomiting.
I suggested to Bill that he give homeopathic remedies for low back pain a try. He was a little skeptical at first, until I told him there is evidence to support homeopathic remedies for back pain. In a 2009 study published in the Clinical Journal of Pain, researchers considered classic homeopathic treatment effective for low back pain. It was determined that homeopathy improved health-related quality of life and reduced the severity of patient complaints. At the same time, the homeopathic remedies reduced the patients’ usage of conventional drugs and treatments. For the study, 129 patients with long-term low back pain were evaluated over a two-year timeframe.
Homeopathy Remedies for Low Back Pain
Classical homeopaths don’t just give you any remedy. They recommended a remedy that will take into account a person’s constitutional type, which includes their physical, mental, and emotional qualities. That being said, here are the top remedies that homeopaths often suggest for low back pain:
- Arnica (leopard’s bane): Arnica montana is a great homeopathic remedy that can treat holiday season lower back pain, especially when the back pain is due to overexertion or minor trauma from an injury or a fall. Most people who require arnica will often have problems moving around, and the back muscles will feel very sore, stiff, and bruised.
- Aesculus hipocastinum (horse chestnut): Aesculus hipocastinum is often recommended for sacral or lower back pain that feels worse, in particular, when one stands from the sitting position. The person who requires this remedy may commonly experience pain that radiates into the right hip or their legs may feel heavy. The pain might feel better from heat, but it worsens from walking, stooping, lying down, or moving at all. The remedy is also used to treat dull pain and muscle weakness. Aesculus is great for those who experience hemorrhoids and venous congestion.
- Rhus toxicodendron (poison ivy): Rhus toxicodendron is considered a useful pain relief remedy, especially for a stiff back that feels worse from initial movement, cold, dampness, and sitting. However, the person feels better from heat, bending backward, lying on a hard surface, limbering, and from putting pressure on the back.
- Magnesia phosphorica (magnesium phosphate): Magnesia phosphorica is one of the 12 homeopathic tissue salts. It is known as a nerve stabilizer that helps relieve spasmodic darting pains, especially at the lower back. The remedy is used mostly for muscle spasms in the back that feel better from warmth (e.g. from a heated compress).
- Ruta graveolens (garden rue): Ruta graveolens is another common homeopathic remedy for low back pain, especially when the pain is worse from staying immobile, bending, sitting, turning, stooping, and from cold or dampness. From an emotional standpoint, the person has a tendency toward anxiety, restlessness, phobias, and being dissatisfied. The person will also experience joint damage, strained back ligaments, and a bruised, aching pain.
- Bryonia (white bryony): Bryonia is considered the best homeopathic remedy when lower back stiffness or pain feel worse from heat, movement, or in cold, dry weather. The pain will feel better from lying on a hard surface, resting, and when the lower back is rubbed. Overall, this person typically feels a stitching and tearing pain.
- Calcarea carbonica (oyster shell): Calcarea carbonica is another go-to remedy for muscle weakness and low back pain. The person will have a tendency toward chilliness, or may easily feel tired from exertion. The person’s symptoms will tend to worsen from damp and cold weather.
- Cimicifuga racemosa (black cohosh): Cimicifuga is also sometimes called actaea racemosa. It is used to help relieve severe stiffness and aching in the neck, upper back, and lower back. The pain may also extend down to the highs or across the hips. Women may also benefit from Cimicifuga for lower back pain during their menstrual periods as it will help relieve heaviness, cramping, and soreness. The person who requires Cimicifuga racemosa will also be energetic and talkative with a tendency toward depression and agitation when they feel ill.
- Nux vomica (Quaker buttons): Nux vomica is another highly used homeopathic remedy for lower back spasms and cramping. The person’s pain will often worsen from coldness, and at night, but it will improve from warmth. The lower back pain will also worsen when constipated, and the pain is aggravated when the person feels the need to move the bowels. The person also has a tendency to feel chilly and irritable.
- Sepia (ink of the cuttlefish): Sepia is another frequently used homeopathic remedy for lower back pain, and the dull pain will be experienced in the sacrum, legs, and pelvis. The person may feel exhausted, sad, weepy, indifferent, or desire alone time. Women will also often require sepia when they experience back pain during pregnancy or their menstrual periods. The person will feel better from pressure or lying down; however, the pain will worsen from sitting, movement, coldness, dampness, or during the evening.
Other Natural Remedies for Low Back Pain
Homeopathy is always my go-to remedy whenever back pain is an issue. Other effective homeopathic remedies for low back pain include kalium carbonicum, kalium phosphoricum, ferrum metallicum, gnaphalium, natrum muriaticum, calcarea fluorica, berberis vulgaris, ignatia, dulcamara, hypericum perforatum, sulphur, and colocynthis. Consult with a homeopathic practitioner to help determine the best remedy based on your symptoms.
Besides homeopathy, there are other low back pain natural remedies that can complement an effective treatment. Other widely used natural remedies for low back pain include turmeric, devil’s claw, willow bark, capsaicin cream, bromelain, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), glucosamine and chondroitin, calcium with magnesium, collagen, vitamin C, pine bark or grape seed extract, lavender essential oil, ginger, boswellia, DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide), and sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as fish and flaxseed oils.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Balch, J., et al., Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide for Treating Health Problems with Natural Remedies Including Diet, Nutrition, Supplements, and Other Holistic Methods (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004), 76-82.
“Low back pain,” University of Maryland Medical Center web site; https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/low-back-pain, last accessed November 12, 2015.
Witt, C.M., et al., “Homeopathic treatment of patients with chronic low back pain: A prospective observational study with 2 years’ follow-up,” The Clinical Journal of Pain, 2009; 25(4): 334-339, doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31819050bb.
Hershoff, A., N.D., Homeopathic Remedies: A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and Their Homeopathic Treatments (New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1999), 213.
“Lower Back Pain (Homeopathy),” PeaceHealth web site; http://www.peacehealth.org/medical-topics/content/cam/hn-2198002.html, last accessed November 11, 2015.
Sharma, H., “5 Best Homeopathic Medicines for Low Back Pain,” Homeopathic Doctor web site, March 31, 2015; http://www.homeopathicdoctor.co.in/5-best-homeopathic-medicines-for-low-back-pain/.