Published July 17th 2023
Fact Checked By Dr Mark Watson
Back pain is a common ailment that affects millions of people worldwide. While over-the-counter pain relievers can provide temporary relief, they often come with side effects. This has led many people to seek natural remedies, such as dietary supplements, that can help manage their pain. In this expert guide, we will explore the most effective natural supplements for back pain relief.
Before we delve into the best supplements for back pain, it's important to understand why natural remedies are so appealing. Over-the-counter pain relievers can cause side effects, such as stomach upset, liver damage, and kidney problems. They can also be addictive and lose their effectiveness over time. Natural supplements, on the other hand, are often gentler on the body and provide long-term relief.
Natural supplements can help alleviate inflammation, a common cause of back pain. Inflammation is the body's response to injury or infection and can cause swelling, redness, and pain. By reducing inflammation, natural supplements can help relieve pain and improve mobility.
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that help alleviate back pain by reducing the production of proinflammatory cytokines. Supplements are available in liquid or capsule form. You can also increase your intake of omega-3’s simply by eating more oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, and tuna, as well as dark leafy greens.
Several studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce reliance on anti-inflammatory drugs and relieve pressure on nerve endings. Additionally, they promote overall health and well-being by reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions.
Turmeric is a spice derived from the root of the turmeric plant. It contains a compound called curcumin that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin helps alleviate back pain by reducing inflammation and swelling in the affected area. A recent review and analysis of dietary supplements found curcumin to significantly reduce short-term pain in the back as well as in people with osteoarthritis of the hands, hips, or knees.
Turmeric is available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and teas. It is generally safe to consume, the catch is that you generally need 500mg of curcumin and this only makes up between 4-12% of turmeric. So, if you're looking for a back pain supplement containing turmeric, make sure it has a standardized curucmin content.
Ginger is a popular spice that has been used for centuries to treat a variety of conditions, including back pain. It contains compounds called gingerol that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Gingerols helps alleviate back pain by reducing inflammation and swelling. The specific gingerol is hydroxymethoxyphenyl and you need 30mg of this for it to be effective. This is typically found in 1.5g of ginger. With studies demonstrating hydroxymethoxyphenyl to be effective when using standardized extracts of lower overall amounts of ginger.
Ginger is available in various forms, including fresh, dried, powdered, and in supplements. It is generally safe to consume, but it may interact with certain medications, so it is essential to speak with a healthcare provider before using it.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are natural compounds found in healthy cartilage. They are often used to alleviate joint pain, including back pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements help protect the cells that maintain cartilage structure, potentially slowing down cartilage deterioration.
Research has shown that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can help reduce joint pain and stiffness. Some studies have shown a statistically significant improvement in back pain when tested against a placebo. However, most studies on glucosamine have been around OA and knee pain, but those that have been done on back pain, do seem to show it to be effective.
These supplements have anti-inflammatory properties and may help alleviate back pain by reducing inflammation and swelling. They are available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and powders.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a critical role in bone health. It helps the body absorb calcium, which is essential for strong bones. Vitamin D also has anti-inflammatory properties that may help alleviate back pain. On top of that even a mild vitamin D deficiency could be making your back pain worse. A study published in Pain Physician in 2013 found that severe pain was associated with a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in people with lumbar spinal stenosis, a condition with lower back pain as a symptom.
The recommended daily allowance, or RDA, of vitamin D is 15 micrograms for most people. Some studies suggest that more than half the US population is vitamin D deficient!
Boswellia is a resin obtained from the Boswellia tree. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help alleviate back pain by reducing inflammation and swelling. These compounds known as boswellic acids can also block pain signals in the body. Boswellia can be taken as a supplement to help manage back pain and is available in various forms, including capsules and tablets. Studies have shown that bosweliia could be as effective as taking many pain medications.
MSM, or Methylsulfonylmethane, is a popular dietary supplement used to manage painful conditions such as back pain and headaches. It's a sulfur-based element found in animals, plants, and humans and comes in capsule or tablet form. MSM has been found to lessen pain, swelling, and joint discomfort.
According to a study, MSM has been reported to improve the quality of life in patients with joint pain, it's particularly well studied for the knees, but the functional mechanism for MSM should reduce back pain aswell. Another study found that taking MSM for 12 weeks improved pain and physical function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Co-Q10 is a naturally occurring substance in the body, and the highest concentrations are found in the kidney, heart, liver, and pancreas. You can also find Co-Q10 in dietary sources, including certain meats, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
Studies have shown Co-Q10 to be helpful for patients with fibromyalgia. Taking Co-Q10 supplements helps with tiredness, pain, and sleep problems associated with fibromyalgia. It's probably not the best ingredient for general back pain however, or for OA.
Magnesium is a mineral found in our bones, and it plays a significant role in over 300 chemical reactions in the human body. Magnesium is used to help painful chronic conditions like low back pain. It may also reduce the need for pain medication post-surgery.
Pumpkin seeds have a very high concentration of magnesium. One ounce of pumpkin seeds has approximately 168 mg of magnesium. For context, the recommended daily intake for adults is between approximately 310-420 mg.
Devil's claw extract comes from a native African plant called Harpagophytum procumbens. Data suggest that a daily dose of 50 milligrams (mg) of harpagoside, one of the active ingredients in devil's claw, can reduce flare-ups of chronic low back pain. The supplement is marketed in several different formulas.
Taking a daily dose of devil's claw extract can have a similar effect to NSAIDs. This makes it a popular solution for pain for those who prefer complementary medicine. However, devil's claw does have a lot less scientific backing than the options at the top of the list, and generally curcumin, ginger, boswellia, glucosamine and omega are all going to be more effective.
Collagen is a protein that is essential for healthy bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage. It has a fibrous structure and is composed of amino acids, the building blocks of protein.
Collagen supplements have been shown to help alleviate joint pain, including back pain. They help support muscle and bone health in the spine, preventing conditions such as osteoporosis and degenerative disc disease.
Well, based on the dosages that you would need, a complete all in one supplement isn't really possible. Some of the ingredients taste awful, so wouldn't be suitable for a powder (this omega, fish or algae isn't going to taste great), or in the case of collagen you need 20grams, which would be 20 pills meaning that's not really an option either. So, the supplement that did top our number one for all things joints is Flexagain. It is by a long shot the best joint pain and as a result the best lower back pain supplement that we've come across. Containing the ideal dosages of 10 functional ingredients. Especially when some of these ingredients are pretty awkward to find.
FlexAgain sets itself apart as the top joint and back pain supplement on the market by using a great range of ingredients and actually containing them in their effective dosage ranges unlike many competitor supplements.
The FlexAgain formula uses almost all of the best ingredients for back joint and muscle pain, including omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin d, blue galangal extract, ginger, bromelain, curcumin (turmeric extract), methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), glucosamine sulfate and boswellic acid. As well as some less known, but still effective ingredients like resveratrol.
All in all it's a great product and with a 90 day money back guarantee we can't really find too much fault with it.
Natural supplements can be an effective way to alleviate back pain and promote overall health and well-being. Omega-3 fatty acids, turmeric, glucosamine, chondroitin, vitamin D, ginger, collagen, devil's claw, magnesium, white willow bark, and boswellia are all natural supplements that have been shown to help alleviate back pain.
Before taking any supplements, it is essential to speak with a healthcare provider to ensure that they are safe and effective for your individual needs. Additionally, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and practicing good posture to prevent back pain in the first place.
Remember, natural supplements are not a substitute for medical treatment, and they should be used in conjunction with other treatments as recommended by a healthcare provider.
Dr Mark Watson is the founder of Center TRT, having graduated from stamford more than 20 years ago, he is an expert in the field of supplemental health, focusing on long term benefits of complimenary treatment. View Profile