Q. Dear Terry, “I’ve been on prescription pain medications for my back issues for many years. I’ve had multiple surgeries for some disc issues, but unfortunately the pain is still there. I just started acupuncture and physical therapy, which seem to help a little. What are some natural alternatives to pain meds?” – Bryce T., Wilmington, DE
A. Dear Bryce, Back pain affects millions of Americans and can be caused by a wide variety of conditions. To help with pain and inflammation, I recommend a combination of curcumin, boswellia, devil’s claw, DLPA, and white willow bark. These ingredients help to provide you with a targeted, effective, and safe approach with no serious side effects.
Curcumin excels at relieving pain and inflammation. Scientific studies have even shown it to be equal to, or excel at relieving pain versus prescription and over-the-counter medications. One drawback with curcumin is the fact that it is very difficult to absorb. The curcumin I recommend is blended with turmeric essential oil (which has its own anti-inflammatory and pain relieving abilities) for enhanced absorption.
Boswellia is a specific inhibitor of 5-LOX, an enzyme that activates inflammatory compounds. This type of inflammation cannot be managed with prescription painkillers. The boswellia I prefer is standardized to contain high levels of the key compound, AKBA, which gives boswellia many of its health benefits. While most of the compounds within boswellia are anti-inflammatory, there is one compound that is actually pro-inflammatory. Therefore, I recommend a boswellia that is low in beta-boswellic acid, which can actually cause inflammation.
Devil’s claw is not only great at relieving pain, but it can help stop the deterioration of the joints. Many devil’s claw extracts have a low standardization of harpagosides, the plant’s key compounds. I prefer a more potent devil’s claw extract, standardized to 20% harpagosides, which is more effective for relieving back pain.
DLPA is an amino acid combination that improves mood-elevating chemicals in the brain, including dopamine, and blocks a nervous system enzyme that intensifies pain signals.
White willow bark extract has long been recognized as a pain-relieving, natural medicine for back pain. This time-tested ingredient has been shown to be a safe anti-inflammatory for chronic lower back pain, joint problems, and osteoarthritis when compared to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), including aspirin.
Together, these powerful ingredients can relieve pain, stop damaging inflammation, and help rebuild the cartilage that cushions your spine. I would take these ingredients two to three times per day.
Terry . . . Naturally
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