Low Back Pain supplements
Low Back Pain

  • In the United States, willow bark is used by herbalists as an antipyretic (fever reducer), a mild analgesic (pain reliever), and an anti-inflammatory. There is currently strong scientific evidence that willow bark is effective for osteoarthritis and lower back pain. Early study suggests that willow bark extracts may not be helpful for rheumatoid arthritis, but further study is warranted to confirm these recommendations. Taking willow bark may increase the risk of bleeding; however, this risk may be less than taking aspirin. Several countries in Europe have approved willow bark for pain and inflammatory disorders. The German Commission E has approved willow bark for fever, rheumatic ailments, and headaches. The British Herbal Compendium indicates that willow bark can be used for rheumatic and arthritic conditions, and fever associated with cold and influenza. In France, willow bark has been approved as an analgesic to treat headache and toothache pain, as well as painful articular (joint) conditions, tendonitis, and sprains. The European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) has approved willow bark extract for the treatment of fever, pain, and mild rheumatic complaints.
  • Devil's claw ( Harpagophytum procumbens ) originates from the Kalahari and Savannah desert regions of South and Southeast Africa. In these parts of the world, devil's claw has historically been used to treat a wide range of conditions including fever, malaria, and indigestion. The medicinal ingredient of the devil's claw plant is extracted from the dried out roots. Currently, the major uses of devil's claw are as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever for joint diseases, back pain, and headache. There is currently widespread use of standardized devil's claw for mild joint pain in Europe. Potential side effects include gastrointestinal upset, low blood pressure, or abnormal heart rhythms (increased heart rate or increased heart squeezing effects). Traditionally, it has been recommended to avoid using devil's claw in patients with stomach ulcers or in people using blood thinners (anticoagulants such as warfarin/Coumadin®).
  • Lavender is native to the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, Russia, and Africa. It has been used cosmetically and medicinally throughout history. In modern times, lavender is cultivated around the world and the fragrant oils of its flowers are used in aromatherapy, baked goods, candles, cosmetics, detergents, jellies, massage oils, perfumes, powders, shampoo, soaps, and tea. English lavender ( Lavandula angustifolia ) is the most common species of lavender used, although other species are in use, including Lavandula burnamii , Lavandula dentate , Lavandula dhofarensis , Lavandula latifolia , and Lavandula stoechas . Many people find lavender aromatherapy to be relaxing and it has been reported to have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects. Overall, the evidence suggests a small positive effect, although additional data from well-designed studies are required before the evidence can be considered strong. Lavender aromatherapy is also used as a hypnotic, although there is insufficient evidence in support of this use. Small phase I human trials of the lavender constituent perillyl alcohol (POH) for cancer have suggested safety and tolerability, although efficacy has not been demonstrated.
  • Shark cartilage is one of the most popular supplements in the United States, with over 40 brand name products sold in 1995 alone. Primarily used for cancer, its use became popular in the 1980s after several poor-quality studies reported "miracle" cancer cures. Laboratory research and animal studies of shark cartilage or the shark cartilage derivative product AE-941 (Neovastat®) have demonstrated some anti-cancer (anti-angiogenic) and anti-inflammatory properties. However, there is currently not enough reliable human evidence to recommend for or against shark cartilage for any condition. There are several ongoing cancer studies. Many trials are supported by manufacturers of shark cartilage products, which raises questions about impartiality. Commercial shark cartilage is primarily composed of chondroitin sulfate (a type of glycosaminoglycan), which is further broken down in the body into glucosamine and other end products. Although chondroitin and glucosamine have been extensively studied for osteoarthritis, there is a lack of evidence supporting the use of unprocessed shark cartilage preparations for this condition. Shark cartilage also contains calcium. Manufacturers sometimes promote its use for calcium supplementation. Shark cartilage supplements at common doses can cost as much as $700-1,000 per month.
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