Sciatica is a painful condition caused by spasms originating in the lower back down to the nerve endings of the upper thighs and abs. It is commonly described as a “shooting” pain down the back of the thighs and into the legs. Other people experience symptoms such as pain in the hips, buttocks, or numbness in the feet or legs.
A variety of therapies may be recommended to ease the pain and discomfort associated with this infliction. Besides supplementation, it is useful to incorporate massage therapy, rest, and hot or moist compresses. Detoxification of the bowels and intestines may be beneficial. It is recommended to see a chiropractor for adjustments in most cases.
There are a number of potential causes that may be responsible for the pain inflicted by this condition. The main causes appear to be:
- Compression or damage to the sciatic nerve or its root.
- A prolonged or ruptured intervertebral disk (slipped disk).
- A tightness in the buttock gluteal muscle, most likely from trauma or strain.
- Inflammation of the nerve endings.
- Osteoporosis or osteoarthritis of the lower back.
- Infection in the area of the sciatic nerve.
- Spondylosis or stenosis of the lower back.
No specific diet is recommended for this condition. It may be advisable to decrease the consumption of “inflammatory” foods. The most common foods that induce inflammation in the body includes: dairy products; meat and poultry; corn; refined sugar; wheat gluten; coffee; chocolate; and the nightshade vegetables (potatoes, radishes, eggplant, tomatoes). If the patient is obese, weight loss programs would be beneficial.
- B COMPLEX VITAMINS
The B complex vitamins are vital for the rejuvenation of cells, especially nerve cells. B vitamins also play a role in the activation of enzymes that lead to healing. Dosage: 50-200 mg daily.
- PYRIDOXINE (VITAMIN B6)
Pyridoxine is critically important for the integrity of the nerve endings. B6 should help reduce pain and decrease inflammation of the nerves. Dosage: 100-200 mg daily for a few months, then decrease dose by half.
This mineral has a direct relaxant affect on all muscles. Magnesium also aids in nerve regeneration. Magnesium can often be low in the American diet, and supplementation may relax the lower back muscles where blood flow is often restricted or impeded. Dosage: 400-800 mg daily.
- GLUCOSAMINE SULFATE (With CHONDROTIN)
This combination is mainly effective in building cartilage, but may aid in the integrity of the joint cartilage and thus relieve prolonged pain that may accompany sciatica. Dosage: 500-1,500 mg daily.
- MSM (METHYLSULFONYL METHANE)
A sulfur compound that is useful in improving the integrity of the joint, and may be as effective in decreasing pain and inflammation as NSAID-type drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen. Dosage: 500-3,000 mg daily. MSM may be more effective when taken in combination with COX-2 inhibiting herbs such as BOSWELLIA and TUMERIC.
- ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID (ALA)
ALA appears to bolster the sciatic nerve against damage and has been shown to significantly reduce the pain, burning, numbness, and paresthesia of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. ALA is licensed in Germany and has demonstrated efficacy in both experimental and clinical use against diabetes-associated neurological deficits. Dosage: 300 mg 2-3 times a day.
- VITAMIN C
This antioxidant vitamin is effective in decreasing inflammation, promoting healing, and balancing adrenal stress. Dosage: 1,000-4,000 mg daily.
- BLACK COHOSH
Traditional therapeutic uses of black cohosh are many, but can be useful in relieving pain and inflammation in conditions such as sciatica and neuralgia. Dosage: As directed.
- OMEGA 3, 6 FATTY ACIDS
These healthy fats help to decrease inflammation (similar to steroids), lubricate joints, and promote healing. Dosage: 1-3 grams daily.
A homeopathic preparation that can help to relieve acute inflammation, pain, and promote healing. Can be taken sublingually or applied topically. Dosage: Dissolve 2-4 tablets under the tongue every 4-6 hours for acute pain for 7-14 days. Cream or gel can be applied freely.
- VITAMIN E
This antioxidant has a antioxidant effect, improves adrenal suppression, and decrease free-radicals scavengers from getting into the body. Dosage: 200-800 IU daily.
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Gaby, AD, Wright, J, Notes from Nutrition Conference, April 1998. Seattle, Wa.
Marian, JB. Anti-Aging Manual. Information Pioneers, South, Woodstock, CN. 1996.
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