Q: I’ve been dealing with sciatic pain for a while now. Some days are worse than others, but I wondered if there was anything natural that could really help. It’s driving me crazy!
A: Sciatic pain, or sciatica, is nerve pain in the sciatic nerve- the largest nerve in the body which runs from the lower back and down the leg. Pain ranges from an ache to stabbing pain that is worse when sitting or lying down. Sciatic pain can be terrible to deal with, but there are a number of natural supplements which can help.
Since sciatica is a nerve issue, supplements which help the nerves are what would be most recommended. B vitamins are great for overall nerve health, and can even help to heal nerve damage. Interestingly, a deficiency in certain B vitamins can actually be a cause of nerve pain.
The B complex of vitamins work best when taken together, though certain forms are significantly better absorbed than others. The company Jarrow has a new B complex called B Right which is a specialized formula which has the best absorbing and most effective forms of each of the B vitamins.
Jarrow’s B Right even has P-5-P, the active form of B6. B6 has been shown in research to be especially effective against nerve pain, though it can be difficult for the body to absorb because it has to be converted before it can be utilized by the body. P-5-P is the active form of the vitamin which is directly absorbed. A number of people have had good results from supplementing with that specialized form of B6 for combating sciatic pain. For best results, I would suggest taking the B Right vitamin complex in the morning, and then an additional P-5-P supplement in the evening.
The antioxidant alpha lipoic acid may also be helpful for sciatica. It is best known for its benefit for diabetic neuropathy, but can also be useful for sciatic pain since it helps with reversing nerve damage. I would recommend taking 600mg per day of alpha lipoic acid, or 150mg per day of R-lipoic acid, the active form which is more easily used by the body.
Sciatic pain can be awful to deal with, but thankfully there are quite a few supplements which can be of help. Also, relaxing with a heating pad or hot water bottle on the affected area can help with relieving pain.
Some other changes that could help would be weight loss, as being overweight can exacerbate sciatica symptoms. Low impact exercises like walking or swimming can help too, as can strengthening and stretching the back and leg muscles. Many people also find that mattresses, couches, or chairs that are too soft make symptoms worse, so that would also be something to look into. If you haven’t already, make sure your doctor knows the symptoms you’ve been having; they might have additional suggestions to ease the pain you’re experiencing.