Releasing the Emotional Roots of Back Pain
Your back pain is trying to tell you something. Chronic back pain might be caused by stuck ...
According to the CDC, over 20% of Americans live with chronic pain. I will start with a straightforward question: How do you navigate pain?
A number of clients in my Ayurvedic practice mention that they take prescription pain medications—all legitimate and under the care of their doctors—to help manage their chronic conditions and get some relief.
Sadly, reliance on opioids has led to the worst drug crisis in American history. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 2 million Americans abuse opioids. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in 2020 over 80,000 persons in the U.S. died from an opioid-involved overdose.
Well-known Ayurvedic practitioner Dr. Robert E. Svoboda says clearly,
“Ayurveda welcomes and accepts pain, even while trying to relieve it, for Nature intends pain to be a multi-layered message to us. Underlying the immediate directive—stop using that body part!—lies a request to look into our lives and see what we are doing to create this misery.”
Depending on the disease causing pain, Ayurveda recommends herbal remedies, dietary changes, daily exercise, stress management, detoxification programs, protocols to strengthen agni (digestive fire) and eliminate ama (toxins), and a daily routine as pathways to pain relief. These methods are effective and, more importantly, non-addictive.
Ayurveda regards Vata as the main dosha responsible for causing and spreading pain. According to Ayurveda, sub-doshas of Vata (vayus) are linked to pain in particular parts of the body. For example, generalized pain is connected to vyana vayu. Headaches are linked to prana vayu and vyana vayu; abdominal pain to samana vayu and apana vayu; and chest pain to vyana vayu and prana vayu.
If your Vata dosha can be managed (via diet, lifestyle, herbs, Panchakarma, detoxification, and stress management), so can the pain (in most cases).
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a natural pain reliever—it prevents pain signals from traveling along the central nervous system. Research has shown that the numerous actions of Ashwagandha include anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, pain-relieving, and anti-stress properties. According to another study, ashwagandha eases symptoms like pain and joint swelling in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Dashmoola is a mix of 10 Ayurvedic herbs used to treat a variety of ailments, including arthritis and inflammatory disorders. Dashmoola literally translates to “ten roots,” out of which five roots are of trees and five are of shrubs. This formulation is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic, and has sedative properties to help manage joint pain and promote management of Vata roga (Vata-based ailments). It is available in the form of oil, teas, and powder.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is commonly used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine systems. It possesses curcumin, which is an active anti-inflammatory component. It also has pain-relieving qualities. Studies suggest that turmeric might work about as well as ibuprofen for reducing pain. Multiple studies have shown that taking higher doses of curcumin in supplement form—around 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day—had similar pain relief effects to taking a prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent. Ginger is known for its exceptional antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce both joint pain and swelling. It can also be used for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and aches in the joints and muscles. Ginger is known to increase blood circulation, which cuts down the pain in the affected areas, and contains salicylates, which can help ease discomfort. You can drink ginger tea or apply ginger paste on your joints and can also topically use a good-quality essential oil safely diluted in a carrier oil.
Nirgundi (Vitex negundo), also called a five-leaved chaste tree, is another potent Ayurvedic plant. In the classical Ayurvedic texts, Nirgundi is one of the most popular and helpful herbs used to manage all kinds of joint pains and even menstrual cramps. It can reduce both swelling, as well as excessive pain. Its potent anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant and antioxidant properties help the joints recover and return back to their healthy state in no time. Often, Nirgundi oil is applied to the joints to reduce pain.
Every year, millions of Americans use opioids to manage pain. But the side effects of these medications can’t be ignored. If you are tired of relying on Western prescription medication for pain relief and are looking for complementary healing modalities, consult with your doctor. It is best to talk with a healthcare professional before taking any of these herbs for the management of pain.
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are nursing, taking medications, or have a medical condition, please consult with your health care practitioner prior to the use of any of these herbs. If you are looking for advice from a trained yogi and Ayurvedic coach, contact Sweta here.
Pain causing you stress? Try utilizing Ayurveda for stress relief.
Get this article and many more delivered straight to your inbox weekly.