Back pain is a general condition that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. While conventional medical approaches can provide relief, an increasing number of individuals are turning to alternative healing systems like Ayurveda. Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of medicine, offers a holistic approach to addressing back pain, focusing on balancing the body, mind, and spirit. In this article, we will analyze the concepts of Ayurveda and delve into its remedies and practices for alleviating back pain naturally.
In Ayurveda, back pain is often attributed to Vata dosha imbalances, which govern movement and nervous system functions. Vata imbalances can be caused by factors such as poor posture, a sedentary lifestyle, improper digestion, stress, and poor sleeping habits. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, the human body comprises three vital energies or doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each dosha represents specific qualities and governs various physiological and psychological functions.
Ayurvedic Causes of Back Pain
In Ayurveda, back pain is often attributed to an imbalance in the Vata dosha. Vata is responsible for gestures and is associated with qualities like dryness, coldness, and lightness. When Vata becomes aggravated, it can lead to muscle tension, stiffness, and pain in the back region.
Identifying the Dosha Imbalance
An Ayurvedic practitioner examines an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional characteristics to determine the dosha imbalance responsible for back pain. Vata dosha, characterized by dryness, coldness, and instability, is commonly associated with back pain. Excess Vata can lead to stiffness, muscle spasms, and inflammation, resulting in backache. Pitta dosha, associated with qualities like heat, acidity, and intensity, can cause inflammation and irritation in the back. Kapha dosha, characterized by qualities such as heaviness, coldness, and congestion, can lead to stiffness and dull pain in the back.
Ayurvedic Remedies for Back Pain
- Herbal Medicines: Herbal Remedies
Ayurveda employs various herbal remedies to address back pain and reduce inflammation. Some commonly used herbs include:
a) Ashwagandha: This adaptogenic herb helps reduce stress and inflammation, promoting relaxation and pain relief.
b) Shallaki (Boswellia serrata): It possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties and is known to provide relief from chronic back pain.
c) Nirgundi (Vitex negundo): The leaves of this plant are used to alleviate pain, reduce swelling, and improve blood circulation.
d) Guggul (Commiphora Mukul): It possesses analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and is generally used to treat musculoskeletal conditions.
e) Dashmool: A combination of ten herbs, Dashmool alleviates Vata imbalances and reduces pain.
- Ayurvedic Oils and External Applications: External applications are an integral part of Ayurvedic therapy for back pain. Ayurvedic oils like Mahanarayan oil, Bala oil, and Prasarini oil are often used for gentle massages and to promote relaxation and relieve muscle tension. Hot or cold fomentation with herbal compresses, such as warm herbal poultices or cold packs, can also be beneficial.
- Panchakarma Therapy: Panchakarma is a comprehensive detoxification and rejuvenation therapy in Ayurveda. It involves a series of therapeutic procedures to remove toxins and bring back balance in the body. Panchakarma treatments like Abhyanga (oil massage), Swedana (herbal steam), and Basti (medicated enema) can be effective in managing back pain.
- Yoga and Exercise: Ayurveda recommends specific yoga asanas (postures) and exercises to strengthen the back muscles, improve flexibility, and promote overall well-being. Practices like Bhujangasana (Cobra pose), Dhanurasana (Bow pose), and Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose) help stretch and strengthen the spine, alleviating back pain.
- Diet and Lifestyle Modifications: Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet and lifestyle for maintaining optimal health. Including anti-inflammatory foods like ginger, turmeric, and garlic can help reduce back pain. Avoiding excessive physical and mental stress, maintaining proper posture, and getting adequate sleep are also essential for managing back pain.
Precautions and Consultation
While Ayurveda provides valuable remedies for back pain, it is essential to consult an Ayurvedic practitioner before embarking on any treatment plan. They can assess your unique constitution and customize therapies accordingly. Additionally, suppose your back pain persists or worsens. In that case, seeking medical advice and ruling out any serious underlying conditions is important.
Ayurveda offers a holistic approach to alleviating back pain by addressing the root causes rather than merely treating the symptoms. By incorporating Ayurvedic remedies, and lifestyle modifications and embracing the principles of this ancient healing system, individuals can find relief and enhance their overall well-being. However, it is important to approach Ayurveda cautiously and seek guidance from trained professionals to ensure a safe and effective healing journey. Embracing the wisdom of Ayurveda can empower individuals to take control of their back health and lead a pain-free life naturally.
How does Ayurveda & Yoga help with back pain?
NourishDoc: Hello, everyone. Happy Wednesday. Back pain is a key ailment that prevents us from going to work so many times. So, that’s what we will be talking about holistic therapies like Ayurveda, yoga therapy and energy healing can help all of us. We have Doctor Puri with us. She is an integrative health practitioner from Canada who has experienced it not only in Ayurveda, yoga therapy, spirituality, energy, healing, and diet. She is all in one. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Dr. Meena: Thank you so much. Hello everyone. So what a topic. We can talk about back pain for years, so the truth is that just because pain shows up in one part of the body does not mean it comes from there. That’s where it shows up. So when we think about the back, we want to think about the back part of the spine, your back carries a lot of a load from your body, and you can also add to that the emotional load, the emotional load that we all carry.
So obviously, one of the number one things is that movement is necessary. But, the right kind of movement, and when you are overdoing it, you will create a lot of back pain. So, I don’t even know where to begin because there’s so much in there. So, I can kind of start with the physical. So, when I say doing too much, I have people who are runners. They continue to run because they love it, tightening their hamstrings, which tightens their hips and pulls on the lower back.
So, the pain shows up in the lower back. However, it’s not coming from the lower back, but that is the burden. Eventually, when you keep burdening the back so much, the spinal discs, because there’s no more room in the back, begin what we call herniated discs also; what’s important to notice is that especially nowadays, our life has become more sedentary. We’re sitting a lot in front of the computer, and life has just become sanitary; to move, we have to decide and act consciously.
So what does prolonged sitting do? It tightens up on the muscles, the hip, and the tight muscles, and then there is impinging on the nerves, creating back problems. So, one of the pain is blocked energy; for energy to move, the movement has to happen; we have to move the back. So we have to consciously get up and move now and then to do a little stretching, and also, our posture matters; many times when we are sitting, there’s fatigue, and if the back muscles are not strong, we tend to slouch. It’s just easy. That will weaken the back and will create back pain.
So what I have it’s funny that we’re talking about back pain. Look what I have in my hands. It’s a yoga tool. What I did was a wedge. So, I’m putting that thicker end towards a chair like this, and I’m sitting on it. So my butt is right on edge. What does that do? It elevates you, and it straightens up the spine. Instead of slouching, it helps you not slouch.
Another thing you can do is lift put a stool when you’re sitting, so you add a little step stool, I don’t have a step stool, but I have another chair with a handle at the bottom where I put my feet on. So you can put a steps tool; the point is for the knee to be just a touch higher than your hip. What that does, is it drops the hip back into the hip socket and creates room between the hip, hip, and your lower back. That’s something we do not do.
So, recently I’ve done much work with emotional healing, trauma healing, and all of that. Recently, working with a client who’s been having back pain for a long time, I discovered the connection between trauma and low back pain. So, when you think about trauma, the effect of trauma on the nervous system is inner contraction. The inner contraction that is repeated over time contracts our spine, and the lower back bears the burden.
So I have noticed frequently that people who have had unresolved trauma come to me with back pain. Only later, when we continued to work deeper, I discovered that trauma needs to be resolved here. I’ve had one person who got debilitated because of trauma. She didn’t know what had happened; her spine gave out. So, the nervous system bears the burden of all our experiences and the experiences that we have not metabolized or digested.
So, think of that as stress, and that stress is going to show up on the physical body, creating pain eventually. So, what you want to think about when you’re looking at back pain, I know you’re going to go to physical therapy or the doctor, an X-ray, what we need to talk about it a little deeper, look at your lifestyle, how are you sitting, sleeping, walking? How often are you moving? Look at your emotional world; what kind of emotions can you not metabolize or heal? you can’t talk yourself out of it because the experience has already happened in the body; emotionally, experience happens in the body.
It’s an energetic imprint that happens on the body. So, we can’t talk ourselves out of feeling what we feel because it’s too late. it’s already happened. So, please take a little inventory and ask what I don’t feel aligned with. I can tell you that even the tiniest things we are accustomed to talking ourselves out of impact the body. It just won’t last Until you deal with it.
So look at that and diet; as far as diet is concerned, anything that’s inflammatory will exaggerate the pain, no matter where the pain is. So there’s not a diet specific to the low pain, specific to the low back. But it’s a diet that’s anti-inflammatory. So some of the inflammatory things are the nightshades. alcohol, Smoking, anger, anger heats the body, inflaming it.
So, again, everybody’s situation is different; some people have just a tightness in the back muscles, some back pain is coming because there’s a hip problem, some back pain is coming because there’s weakness in the abdominal muscles or back pain is there because they’re just herniated disc, or they have a sports injury. So, there could be several causes, but look at you from the physical point of view; how are you sitting, standing, and living your life?
What are you putting into your body? What thoughts are you consuming? And where in the emotional world do your emotions need attention and healing? It all happens in the past. We all have things in the past, a trauma that we have not yet healed. So trauma and back pain, especially in men, there’s a direct correlation; that’s what I’ve found in my practice. For women, it tends to be in their pelvis area, more in the hips and knees. Interesting, and also their neck. But low back pain and trauma are very connected in men.
Yoga Therapy Tools in Ayurveda
NourishDoc: That’s fascinating the correlation you’re talking about; we all have unresolved emotions. So now and when it comes to, and this is a quick 10-minute session that, we bring but some simple tips whether Ayurveda from a toolbox of Ayurveda, yoga therapy, or you talked about the inflammatory diet not to have that, but what about incorporating some of the tools from yoga therapy in Ayurveda?
Dr. Meena: The oil massage, there’s an oil infused with anti-inflammatory herbs, one of which is turmeric. So oils that are heating. So, an oil massage is wonderful; I just showed you the little yoga tool, but I want to bring you a yoga block; lay down on your back with your knees bent. Lift your hips with the block under. Drop your hips back down; that creates traction in your lower back.
So, the Ayurveda therapies, again, you want to keep the digestion healthy because digestion affects the entire body, and the oil massage is really useful. What other Ayurveda therapies? A quick tip: I don’t want to talk about herbs. I don’t want people taking them just on my very loose recommendation without knowing. So, I cannot recommend any herbs like that.
However, I can suggest that simple herbs like, what will keep your digestion healthy is Triphala and creating a schedule, a daily care schedule, you’re waking up at a certain time, you’re getting up at a certain time, you’re including exercise, breathing, moving in your daily life. You are becoming conscious of what you’re consuming mentally, emotionally, and energetically; consciousness is medicine. Raising the level of our awareness is medicine. So there are several things, starting with a couple I mentioned. I can’t get anything specific because I don’t know how to talk to them.
NourishDoc: Sure. Absolutely. This is just a general do-it-self session, as people can do at home. Of course, if there’s any serious condition, people must consult a medical practitioner or a holistic a little. We create awareness of holistic therapies and the efficacy of holistic therapies. There’s so much research behind it that all the ailments we have in our society today can holistic wellness be the first to go to therapy.
Dr. Meena: Yeah, it’s not the alternative therapies; this is where you go to, and then this becomes your primary medicine.
NourishDoc: Absolutely, and we are trying to do holistic wellness as a primary medicine, primary care. Thank you so much, Doctor Puri, for being with us. Thank you and everyone else; stay tuned. We are coming up with a platform that we will launch soon, and you will get to know. Thank you, everyone, for your support. Bye bye.