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Two Herbs Found Effective in Treating Acute Low Back Pain

As more and more people seek help for disabling low back pain (LBP), researchers are stepping up the number of studies on treatment for this condition. Many patients are trying herbal supplements to control pain.

In this study, the results of 10 trials using herbal medicine for LBP are reported. In each research project, half the patients received a supplement. The other half (control group) did not get a supplement. All subjects were adults over the age of 18 with nonspecific LBP. Nonspecific means there is no known cause for the pain.

The authors describe by name a list of herbal medicines used to treat LBP. Some subtances were taken by mouth (oral). Others were creams used to rub on the skin over the painful area.

They also discuss how these products work biochemically. The dosage of each substance used was recorded and compared to the final results. The major method of measuring success was change in the patient's pain level. Any adverse effects of the herbs was also noted.

There were two herbal medicines that showed good results in the treatment of acute episodes of chronic nonspecific LBP. Included were H. procumbens andharpagoside (an extract of S. alba). Several others were listed as having moderate evidence of effectiveness.

More study in this area is needed to identify effective herbs with minimal side effects. Dosage and duration of use should also be studied to find the most effective use. It would be helpful if herbal medicines were compared with standard treatment using aspirin or Tylenol.


Joel J. Gagnier, ND, MSc, PhD(cand), et al. Herbal Medicine for Low Back Pain. In Spine. January 1, 2007. Vol. 32. No. 1. Pp. 82-92.

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