We depend on our backs for the most basic daily functions: standing, sitting, bending, and walking. Our backs are, quite literally, the backbone of our existence. A complex web of bones, discs, nerves, fibers, ligaments, muscles and blood vessels forms it. The nerves send signals to the brain and the rest of the body. So, the back is the keeper of mind-body integrity.
Low back pain is the most common health complaint in the age group of 35-50 years in men and women. It is usually characterized by dull or sharp aching pain in the lower part of the spine. This causes restricted activity and ability to work, ultimately reducing day-to-day joy and comfort.
Ayurveda offers much insight and many practical tools for ensuring that our backs support us for years on end. The first approach to resolving any back pain requires investigating the root cause. Many things could trigger back pain and the following list doesn't cover all the possibilities:
In Ayurveda, pain is usually rooted in an imbalance of vata dosa, which has the qualities of being cold, rough, dry, light, mobile and subtle. When our body experiences an excess of these qualities, we become stiff, rigid, and dry, lacking the lubrication necessary to bend, stand and sit without pain.
The discs between the vertebrae of our spines, which are made up of a jelly-like substance to protect the bones (think of this as kapha dosa providing lubrication and support) often degenerate due to repetitive action and overuse (think of vata dosa moving excessively causing degeneration). Essentially the depleting qualities of vata deplete kapha, causing degeneration of the bones and joints.
In the body, the main site of vata is the colon, where the primary function is to eliminate waste. With lower back pain, constipation is common and elimination maybe irregular or incomplete. This also aggravates the lower back with symptoms of gas, bloating and pain. So, in general, a vata-pacifying diet and lifestyle, along with herbs, can significantly help to manage lower back pain.
If you’re experiencing back pain, make sure to eat a warm, nourishing diet of easy to digest foods. Foods with a sweet, salty, or sour taste are best for vata. Warm, cooked foods like soups, stews and kichari are a good place to start. Avoid cold or iced drinks, raw food and dry food like chips, popcorn and crackers. These types of food have the same qualities as vata and will further increase the aggravated vata dosa. Excessive vata dosa impairs digestion and causes constipation. Make sure you are getting enough fiber through a significant intake of fruits and fresh vegetables to support healthy elimination.
If your Ayurvedic practitioner recommends support in the form of herbal remedies, you can increase a few herbs in your daily cooking like garlic, tamarind, and ginger. These three help pacify the vata dosa. There are also herbal products that will help lower back pain caused by vata depleting kapha.
One of Ayurveda’s most effective therapies for back pain is the Kati Basti.
This therapy involves applying a ring of flour or bean dough around the affected area. This creates a dam-like structure that retains the warm herbal oil over the area of pain.
The warm and unctuous oil counters the cold and dry qualities of vata and back pain begins to resolve. While results are usually achieved after just one therapy, a series of six to eight therapies can go a long way to finally relieving the pain.
For at-home therapy, a daily self-massage with one of the oils mentioned in this article followed by a warm shower or bath will greatly help to reduce pain.
Original source: Dr JV Hebbar, EasyAyurveda.com
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Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Kottakkal Ayurveda products and information are not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. If you have serious, acute, or chronic health problems, please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the advice of a trained Ayurvedic professional, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will provide you with information to consult with Ayurvedic professionals. Always check with your doctor before taking herbs when pregnant or nursing.
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