We depend on our backs for the most basic daily functions: standing, sitting, bending, and walking. Our backs are, quite literally, the backbone of our existence. A complex web of bones, discs, nerves, fibers, ligaments, muscles and blood vessels forms it. The nerves send signals to the brain and the rest of the body. So, the back is the keeper of mind-body integrity.
Low back pain is the most common health complaint in the age group of 35-50 years in men and women. It is usually characterized by dull or sharp aching pain in the lower part of the spine. This causes restricted activity and ability to work, ultimately reducing day-to-day joyand comfort.
Ayurveda’s Approach to Lower Back Pain
Ayurveda offers much insight and many practical tools for ensuring that our backs support us for years on end. The first approach to resolving any back pain requires investigating the root cause. Many things could trigger back pain and the following list doesn't cover all the possibilities:
- Excess foods that are dry, light, bitter, pungent, and cold
- Fasting, loss of appetite or eating less nutritious food
- Over exercising or working
- Walking long distances or too fast
- Falling or injury to the back or vital points
- Lifting weight that is too heavy or improperly
- Sleeping in the wrong position
- Excess sexual indulgence
- Suppression of natural urges (gas, urine, stool, burping, etc.)
- High stress and/or holding tension
- Holding emotions of grief, fear, or dissatisfaction
In Ayurveda, pain is usually rooted in an imbalance of vata dosa, which has the qualities of being cold, rough, dry, light, mobile and subtle. When our body experiences an excess of these qualities, we become stiff, rigid, and dry, lacking the lubrication necessary to bend, stand and sit without pain.
The discs between the vertebrae of our spines, which are made up of a jelly-like substance to protect the bones (think of this as kapha dosa providing lubrication and support) often degenerate due to repetitive action and overuse (think of vata dosa moving excessively causing degeneration). Essentially the depleting qualities of vata deplete kapha, causing degeneration of the bones and joints.
In the body, the main site of vata is the colon, where the primary function is to eliminate waste. With lower back pain, constipation is common and elimination maybe irregular or incomplete. This also aggravates the lower back with symptoms of gas, bloating and pain. So, in general, a vata-pacifying diet and lifestyle, along with herbs, can significantly help to manage lower back pain.
Diet For Back Pain
If you’re experiencing back pain, make sure to eat a warm, nourishing diet of easy to digest foods. Foods with a sweet, salty, or sour taste are best for vata. Warm, cooked foods like soups, stews and kichari are a good place to start. Avoid cold or iced drinks, raw food and dry food like chips, popcorn and crackers. These types of food have the same qualities as vata and will further increase the aggravated vata dosa. Excessive vata dosa impairs digestion and causes constipation. Make sure you are getting enough fiber through a significant intake of fruits and fresh vegetables to support healthy elimination.
Herbs For Back Pain
If your Ayurvedic doctor or practitioner recommends support in the form of herbal remedies, you can increase a few herbs in your daily cooking like garlic, tamarind, and ginger. These three help pacify the vata dosa. There are also herbal products that will help lower back pain caused by vata depleting kapha.
Kottakkal Products For Low Back Pain
Dasamulam Kashayam is useful for all types of lower back pain when combined with castor oil.
Gandharvahastadi Kashayam supports vata conditions, constipation, increases digestion and appetite.
Gandharvahastadi Oil is an herbal product taken internally for vata conditions of constipation and pain.
Rasnairandadi Kwatham supports the relief of backache, low back pain and a locked jaw.
Maha Rasnadi Kwatham balances vata and is a potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
Sahacharadi Kwatham is useful for inflammatory conditions and restricted movement.
Kottakkal Massage Oils For Low Back Pain
Dhanwantaram Oil is effective for vata + kapha related to inflammation and pain stemming from arthritis and other neuromuscular, skeletal, and joint disorders.
Kshirabala Oil is especially useful for vata neuromuscular pain, sciatica, spondylitis, and paralysis.
Maha Narayana Oil is useful for paralysis, arthritis and strengthening bones and tendons.
Prasarani Oil supports vata related conditions, degenerative neuro-muscular skeletal disorders.
Valiya Sahacharadi Oil supports vata and kapha conditions, muscle and joint stiffness and spasms.
Ayurvedic Body Therapy for Back Pain – Kati Basti
One of Ayurveda’s most effective therapies for back pain is the Kati Basti.
This therapy involves applying a ring of flour or bean dough around the affected area. This creates a dam-like structure to contain the warm herbal oil over the area with pain. As the herbal oil is carried deep into the tissue layers, it increases circulation and softens the rigid scar tissue that has formed on the muscles and joints.
The warm and unctuous oil counters the cold and dry qualities of vata and back pain begins to resolve. While results are usually achieved after just one therapy, a series of six to eight therapies can go a long way to finally relieving the pain. For at-home therapy, a daily self-massage with one of the oils mentioned in this article followed by a warm shower or bath will greatly reduce pain and inflammation.
For more information on healing back pain, read our article “6 Tips for Relieving Back Pain with Ayurveda”.
Original source: Dr JV Hebbar, EasyAyurveda.com
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Kottakkal Ayurveda products and this information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. If you have serious, acute, or chronic health problems, please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with one of our affiliated Ayurvedic professionals. Check with your doctor before taking herbs when pregnant or nursing.