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What Natural Products Really Work To Relieve Pain?

January 25th, 2008 · 6 Comments

A trip to your local healthfood store can turn up all sorts of pills, creams and potions for pain.  Which have scientific proof that they work?

I recently came across a great review article that summarizes years of research to see which herbs, vitamins and minerals have studies showing they work for chronic low back pain.  The author divided the studies into how convincing the results were:  strong, moderate, and limited.  Here’s the results:

Strong evidence
1.  50 mg harpagoside per dose of an aqueous extract of H procumbens (Devil’s claw) per day reduces pain more than placebo

Moderate evidence
1.  100 mg harpagoside per dose of an aqueous extract of H procumbens compared to placebo
2.  Extract of S alba (willow bark) yielding 120 mg salicin per day compared to placebo
3.  240 mg of salicin per day compared to placebo
4.  240 mg of salicin per day is equivalent to 120 mg salicin
5.  No differences in pain and function between a 60 mg daily harpagoside dose of an aqueous extract of H procumbens and 12.5 mg rofecoxib (a cox-2 anti-inflammatory drug) per day
6.  Intramuscular B12 compared to placebo

Limited evidence
1.  Topical C frutescens in the form of Rado-Salil cream or a Capsicum plaster for reducing pain more than placebo
2.  Lavender oil
3.  Vitamin C, zinc, and manganese in addition to prolotherapy

Cautions:

  • Just because something is “natural,” or from nature, doesn’t mean it’s safe and harmless
  • Be sure to get your information from reputable sources
  • Discuss any natural remedies with your doctor before taking anything, as these can effect your medical treatment and medication responses, or cause medication interactions
  • There may, of course, be other natural remedies that work for pain but haven’t been studied yet, so this list isn’t a final one

You might also like to read:

The full study is ”Evidence-informed management of chronic low back pain with herbal, vitamin, mineral, and homeopathic supplements,” by Joel J. Gagnier ND, MSc, PhD, in Jan-Feb 2008 The Spine Journal.


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