- ‘Sciatica’ is a term used for the excruciating pain resulting due to pressure on the sciatic nerve (neuralgia) or irritation/inflammation of the nerve due to some disease. The painful condition can also result from the general wear and tear of the sciatic nerve due to old age.
- The sciatic nerve is the biggest single nerve in the human body. The nerve originates from each side of the lower spine and passes through the pelvis, the buttocks, and the back of each upper leg. It gets divided at the knee into branches which go to the feet.
- When the sciatic nerve is subjected to pressure or gets inflamed, it causes a sensation of pain which shoots down to the back of one thigh or buttock. The intensity of the pain can vary widely — it may sometimes be just a mild ache or maybe a sharp/burning sensation that can cause extreme discomfort to the sufferers. It can also cause numbness or tingling in the limbs. Moreover, the pain can become worse when the sufferers sit or stand for long periods, cough, sneeze, twist/strain their legs, or lift heavy weights.
Sciatica: Ayurvedic Perspective
In Ayurveda, Sciatica or sciatic nerve pain is called ‘Gridhrasi.’ Ayurvedic experts believe that the key reason behind the painful condition is a faulty digestive system. According to the experts, improper digestion can lead to the buildup of toxins (Ama) which get accumulated in the small channels of the body. The toxin buildup is a result of an impairment of the ‘Vata’ dosha which is responsible for the functional ability and movement of the body; and/or the impairment of the ‘Kapha’ dosha which is responsible for body fluids and lubrication.
Besides the faulty digestive system, Sciatica may also be caused due to degenerative disc disease, bulging disc or herniated disc, trauma, pregnancy, piriformis syndrome, internal bleeding, infections around the lumbar spine, or some other conditions.
The Ayurvedic treatment of Sciatica focuses on the following aspects:
- elimination of the toxic build up
- use of digestive herbs to restore proper digestion
- use of toning and demulcent herbs to nourish the nervous system and restore the balance of the body’s three doshas — Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Remedies to Relieve Sciatica Naturally
The intense pain which Sciatica patients experience while performing their day-to-day activities can be relieved with the help of natural remedies. Some of the most effective and time-tested remedies which can alleviate Sciatica naturally have been listed below.
1. Diet Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Dietary changes can be very helpful in relieving sciatic nerve pain naturally. The diet of Sciatica patients should be rich in certain vitamins — Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D — and minerals so that the treatment of the condition can be accelerated. The foods which should be added to the diet include milk, cheese, green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, apples, bananas, and citrus fruits. Together with such a diet, an increased intake of magnesium and calcium can also relieve the pressure on the nerves.
2. Ginger Tea
Ginger tea can be very beneficial in managing Sciatica internally, in a natural manner. Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties which can reduce the pain and inflammation associated with Sciatica. To prepare ginger tea, a small piece of ginger should be added to a cup of hot water and steeped for 10-15 minutes before drinking. Ginger tea should be consumed 2-3 times a day. Honey can also be added to the tea if required.
Turmeric can relieve Sciatica naturally because of the presence of ‘Curcumin’ which also has proven analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, and can reduce pain and inflammation. To get benefit from this remedy, Sciatica patients should drink a cup of hot milk with one teaspoon of turmeric added to it. This remedy should be followed 1-2 times a day.
4. Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek can reduce sciatic nerve pain because it contains a petroleum ether compound that enables its anti-inflammatory capabilities. For this natural remedy, two teaspoons of powdered fenugreek seeds should be mixed with a little amount of boiled milk, to form a paste. This paste should be applied to the affected area and rinsed with warm water upon drying. Alternatively, some fenugreek seeds can be boiled with water, and the concoction should be taken 1-2 times daily.
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera has proven anti-inflammatory and soothing properties which can be extremely beneficial for relieving Sciatica in a natural way. It also contains certain ethanolic extracts as well as ‘polysaccharides’ which can help the healing process. Sciatica patients can benefit from this remedy by consuming one-fourth glass of fresh Aloe Vera juice once a day. Alternatively, a thin layer of Aloe Vera gel can also be applied to affected area to reduce sciatic nerve pain.
6. Lemon Juice
Lemons can help in managing the symptoms of Sciatica because of their anti-inflammatory properties resulting from the abundance of Vitamin C. Sciatica patients should add the juice from half a lemon to one glass of water. Honey can also be added to the mixture if needed. One glass of lemon juice should be taken daily to fight Sciatica pain.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
The anti-inflammatory actions of Apple Cider Vinegar, added to a saline solution, can also be useful in relieving Sciatica. For this remedy, 500 ml of Apple Cider Vinegar should be added to a bucket of warm water containing one cup of Epsom salt. Sciatica patients should soak their feet in this solution for 10-15 minutes, at least three times a week.
8. Ayurvedic Herbs
Some beneficial Ayurvedic herbs can alleviate Sciatica because of their ability to manage pain, pacify Vata nerves and joints, nourish the muscles of the back, strengthen the bones, treat inflammation and swelling, and suppress the aggravation of Vata and Kapha doshas. These herbs include Nirgundi (Vitex negundo), Guggulu (Commiphora mukul), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Eranda roots (Ricinus communis), Long Pepper (Piper longum), Jaiphal (Myristica fragrans).
In addition to the above-mentioned natural remedies for managing Sciatica, patients can also use hot and cold compress to the affected area on alternate basis, increase their intake of carbohydrates, and apply essential oils — like peppermint oil and ginger oil — to reduce pain and inflammation. Some light exercises like walking can also be done if the sciatic nerve pain is not too severe. However, it is advisable to consult an expert Ayurveda practitioner for the most effective treatment for relieving Sciatica naturally.
Dr. Vikram Chauhan (MD-Ayurvedic Medicine) is an Expert Ayurveda Consultant in Chandigarh (India). He has vast experience of herbs and their applied uses. He has successfully treated numerous patients suffering from various ailments, throughout the world. He is CEO and Founder of Krishna Herbal Company and Planet Ayurveda in Chandigarh, India. He researched age old formulas from ancient Ayurvedic text books to restore health and save human beings from the worst side-effects of chemical-based treatments.