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Alternative Approaches: A Gardener's Cure to Easing Back Pain

Alternative Approaches
A Gardener's Cure to Easing Back Pain
by Jennifer LB Leese

Back pain is a common occurrence during the gardening season and is one of the most common ailments seen today. Back pain is categorized as acute and chronic. Movement or excessive use of the back can injure the muscles, ligaments, bones, and tendons, causing acute pain.
Chronic pain is a reoccurring backache that results of normal movements or for no particular reason and can also affect the tendons, ligaments, bones.
We've all experienced some form of pain, whether it be a backache, headache, or muscle ache. And with pain comes sleeplessness, grouchiness, spasms, and sometimes depression.
During the gardening season, the main causes of back pain are caused from lifting, digging, bending, and stooping. Kidney, prostate or bladder problems, female disorders, influenza, arthritis, stress, constipation, improper lifting of weights, high heels, and emotional problems are a few other causes for back pain.
With the help of herbs, back pain this season can be prevented or in the very least eased. Here's a few alternative tips and herbal recipes to get you started...
Alternative Actions
Aromatherapy, sometimes referred to as aromatic or scent medicine, is the art of healing the body using naturally distilled essences from different parts of plant to improve and enhance your everyday emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. These essences are known as essential oils.
Massage Treatment with essential oils can often help relieve the painful muscle spasms that contribute to back pain. Sage, rosemary, thyme, horsebalm and mountain dittany are rich in muscle relaxing compounds - thymol and carvacrol.
Acupuncture. This treatment has grown extremely popular throughout the United States and the world and is used for many types of ailments and illnesses.
Herbal Wraps. Sit for a while with a hot, moist herbal wrap. This will help relieve the pain and increase blood circulation of painful areas.
Herbal Remedies
Black birch
The leaves or inner bark of the black birch, steeped in hot water makes a fantastic tea for relieving lower back pain. American Indians used it as a diuretic and to expel intestinal worms.
This herb is good for easing mental fatigue and nervous impairment. It calms the mind and eases tension.
Certain species of angelica have been used to dull pain by American Indians throughout North America. The European species (Angelica archangelica) and the Chinese species (Angelica sinensis) have been used in the same way. All species of this herb contain anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and anodyne (pain-relieving) properties.
Rosemary tea works wonderfully for pain. The leaf contains four anti-inflammatory substances - camosol, oleanolic acid, rosmarinic acid, and ursolic acid.
Ginger is used to treat various sorts of pain in the folk medicine of China and India and is an important pain remedy in today's Arabic medicine. This herb contains 12 different aromatic anti-inflammatory compounds, including some with mild aspirin-like effects.
It is said that willow bark was used for treating pain by the ancient Greeks. Studies have shown that American Indians throughout North America used it as a pain reliever even before the arrival of the European colonists. Investigation of salicin, a pain-relieving constituent in willow bark, led to the discovery of aspirin in 1899.
Cramp bark has been used in American Indian medicine. They used cramp bark to treat menstrual pain and muscle pain
Red pepper contains a marvelous pain-relieving chemical called capsaicin. The herb triggers a release of the body's own pain relieving endorphins.
Peppermint contains menthol and camphor. These are chemicals that can help ease the muscle tightness that contributes to many bad backs.
Garlic Oil
The most important home remedy for back pain is the use of garlic. Two or three cloves can be taken every morning to get results. An oil prepared from garlic and rubbed on the back will give great relief. This oil is prepared by frying ten cloves of garlic in 60 ml of oil in a frying pan. After the oil has cooled, it should be applied vigorously on the back, and allowed to remain there for three hours. A warm bath will give even more results. suggests that the treatment should be continued for at least fifteen days.
Backache Tea
Mix together 1 tablespoon each of dried yarrow; boneset, and skullcap. Add the mixture to 2 cups of water and simmer 30 minutes, covered. Strain and add 1 tablespoon of the liquid to 1 cup of hot water. Add 1 teaspoon of flavored psyllium. Sweeten with 1 tablespoon of dark corn syrup if desired.
Black Haw Potion
Black haw contains aspirin-like compounds. Mix equal parts of cramp bark and black haw tinctures. Take between 1 and 4 droppers every two or three hours for up to three days.
Angelica Brew
Place 1 tablespoon of angelica root (any of the species) in a pint of water and bring to a boil for two minutes. Cover the pot. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, until the tea cools to room temperature. Drink the pint in 3 doses during the day.
Massage Oil
Add a few drops of sage, rosemary, thyme, horsebalm, or mountain dittany to a couple of tablespoons of any vegetable oil and massage the oil mixture directly into the affected area. You might also add a few drops of the oil to a hot bath and soak for a while, inhaling the steamy vapors.
(BOLDLow Back Massage Oil
A blend of lavender, eucalyptus, and ginger is said to work wonders when it comes to lower back pain. Try 6 drops lavender, 4 drops eucalyptus, and 2 drops ginger. Blend with any carrier oil and massage.
Rosemary Tea
Infuse 3 teaspoons of fresh leaves in a cup of boiling water.
Clary Bath
8 drops Clary Sage
10 drops Lavender (use dried lavender flowers)
Sift all dry ingredients in a glass bowl. Add essential oils. Spray 3 times with witch hazel and mix well. Keep spraying the mix until it clumps when you squeeze it in your hands, but make sure it is not wet.
Add dried herbs if using. Press and let sit one minute. Then carefully place on wax paper. If your house/apartment is humid, remember to place a clean tea towel over the bombs and place under a fan. This will prevent the bombs from activating. Let dry 24-48 hours.
Ginger Tea
Cut fresh ginger root (about the size of your thumb) into thin slices. Place the slices in a quart of water then bring it to a boil. Simmer on lowest setting for 30 minutes. Let cool for thirty minutes then strain and drink 1/2 to 1 cup, sweetened with honey.
The articles "Alternative Approaches" published in the Picket News the first week of every month are not intended to be a substitute for therapy or professional is building a database of natural remedy brands that it tests and rates. Not all are yet available.
Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration has a program called MEDWATCH for people to report adverse reactions to untested substances, such as herbal remedies and vitamins (800-332-1088). A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.

Source:,, HerbalDiary, WebMD, "Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies" by David Hoffmann,, MayoClinic, Healthcare Center, and

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