Herbal MedicineI'm starting to become a fan of herbal medicine.
I must admit to getting herbal medicine confused with homeopathy - which to be honest I really hold with. (I quite like the idea that certain plants are good for certain things, but I'm not convinced that diluting it down to water has any effect. Of course, if I was convinced that it worked, it probably would thanks to the incredible power that is placebo, but as I'm a skeptic it doesn't.)
But (and as I am sure most of you know), homeopathy and herbal medicine are two different things.
Herbal medicine (sometimes herbalism) is simply medicine based on the use of plant and plant extracts. It's been around a long time - and it can prove very effective for a range of conditions. Of course, I'm going to spend time on the herbal medicines that can help back pain, and while I'm going to expand this page in due course to cover other herbal medicines, I'm going to start with Devil's Claw.
Herbal Medicine Links
The reason I thought about trying Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens - from South Africa) to ease my back pain is that clinical trials have been shown to help reduce inflammation (however, see below). One of the things that ibuprofen does is reduce inflammation and ibuprofen does ease my back pain, it made sense to see if Devil's Claw worked for me.
And the short answer is - it does.
I've tried both tablets and tincture, and I've found that the tablets appear to be slightly more effective. I don't know if that's because I get a slighlty higher dose as a result - I can't compare the two and it's not easy getting a consistent measurement from the tincture (drops).
The two products can't strictly be compared - various forms of Devil's Claw are available on the market, all of them different. (Only one has been subjected to the clinical trials I mentioned above. In the same way that despite containing flour not all bread is the same, there's no guarantee that the results from the trials can be extrapolated to the products that I'm trying.)
I've also taken Devil's Claw fairly consistently over the last couple of months, during which my exercise has waxed and waned. And while taking regular exercise is beneficial for me in so many ways (not just for my back), I'm happy that the Devil's Claw helps ease my back pain when I can't exercise.
So I'm very pleased with the Devil's Claw - it's been a great success for me.
Devil's Claw Links
Your Herbal Medicine Stories
If you have any stories or comments using Herbal Medicine to ease your back pain, please share them with me and I'll add them to this site. Click here to tell me your story.
Written by Steve Hatherley.