“Oh, my aching back!”
If you find yourself saying that on a regular basis, you may be suffering from sciatica, constriction of the sciatic nerve.
This nerve is the longest in the body, stretching from the lower back down into the legs and feet.
Constriction can come as the result of a pulled muscle, skeletal misalignment, injury, chronic inflammation, herniated disc, pressure from pregnancy, spinal tumors, a tight piriformis, or other causes.
Sciatic pain can be debilitating, ranging from tingling in the lower extremities to sharp, shooting pain in the back, buttocks, legs, and/or feet. Whatever the cause, when you feel the pain, the first thought is to get rid of it. A cortisone shot, strong pharmaceutical painkillers, and over-the-counter analgesics are temporary and hazardous solutions that mask pain but don’t fix the problem.
See also: sciatica stretches
Cortisone and other corticosteroids have been found to actually exacerbate a problem they’re intended to treat over time because they impede natural healing. (1) They also can have serious side effects: seizures, impaired vision, pancreatitis, severe depression, insomnia, headache and dizziness, nausea, and skin conditions. (2)
Ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are injurious to the liver. Aspirin can eat the lining of your gastrointestinal tract, causing ulcers and leaky gut. Pain-killing drugs can be addictive and their effectiveness declines over time, requiring increasing doses.
Finding the cause of the constriction is important to alleviating the problem and the pain that goes with it. Below are natural remedies for sciatica pain that will actually help—rather than mask—pain and discomfort while you work on the physiological reason for your sciatica.
Check out the short video below for simple stretches that will loosen up your lower back and ease nerve pain.
Alternating Hot and Cold
Heat expands, cold contracts. When a pinched nerve is the problem, optimizing blood flow is paramount. Apply a hot compress or soak in a hot Epsom salt bath to loosen muscles. Immediately follow with an ice pack to the lower back until the pack is no longer cold. Repeat a few times a day. Blood flow is promoted through the physical expansion and contraction of muscles and blood vessels.
This medicinal golden spice is an efficacious anti-inflammatory. Taken with black pepper to improve its bioavailability, you can add it to everything you eat or make a golden milk drink for whole-body warmth and reduction of pain.
The active pain-killing ingredient in willow bark is what aspirin was originally made from: salicylic acid. With antioxidant flavonoids, tannins, catechins, and anti-inflammatory properties, a white willow tea, tincture, or willow bark capsule can help reduce swelling and pain of sciatica. Unlike aspirin, it is a natural product and its analgesics last longer than the synthetic version. If you’re sensitive or allergic to aspirin, don’t take willow bark. Other conditions for which willow bark is contraindicated:
- Stomach ulcers
- Kidney or liver issues
- Children under the age of 16 should not take willow bark (4)
Not to be taken with:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Blood-thinning medication
Willow Bark Tea Recipe
- Put 1 to 2 teaspoons of willow bark to 8 ounces of water.
- Allow the mix to boil for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Once boiled, turn off the heat and allow it to steep between 20 and 30 minutes.
- Strain the bark out and serve.
You can add some honey for better flavor.