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 Back Pain  Holistic-online.com

Nutritional Therapies

Certain foods and nutrients can modulate the complex cellular metabolism that sustains chronic inflammation. They will not relieve pain quickly in the way that conventional medications do but generally have to be used over a period of weeks and months before they take effect. But they will affect the underlying physiological mechanisms of inflammation and degeneration, which the NSAIDs do not.

Red meat can aggravate or cause chronic back pain. Uric acid contained in red meat can cause joint inflammation. Furthermore, the body uses the arachidonic acid in animal fat to manufacture series-2 Prostaglandins, hormone-like substances which worsen inflammation. Vegetables such as potatoes, soy beans and other legumes, and cold-water fish should replace animal meat as the main source of protein.

Nuts and seeds are another excellent source of protein, and provide other significant health benefits. Nut and seed oils, as well as fish oil, contain essential fatty acids which the body converts to series-1 or series-3 Prostaglandins. These Prostaglandins derived from vegetable sources act as anti-inflammatory agents. Almonds, walnuts and peanuts are particularly beneficial, due to their high magnesium content. Magnesium is not only a constituent of bone and cartilage, but also maintains muscle tone. Chronic back pain is often a symptom of poor abdominal muscle tone.

The diet should include a wide variety of raw vegetables and fruits, and wholegrain cereals to provide the nutrients needed for the maintenance of bones, nerves and muscles, all of which contribute to a strong and supple back. Eat oatmeal, porridge or a Swiss muesli made with soaked oats every morning. These foods are excellent sources of silica, which is particularly important for building strong bones, and B vitamins, which support muscle and nerve health.

Nutritional Supplements

Calcium and magnesium are vital for the muscles and bones, and help alleviate muscle spasms if they exist. Silica is also highly recommended to improve bone structure. Bioflavonoids and vitamins C and E are essential for maintaining connective tissue, and are useful for alleviating disk injuries. Vitamin C also helps if calcium absorption is poor due to inadequate stomach acid. Evening primrose oil is an excellent, mild anti-inflammatory and is useful whether the source of the pain is sciatica or muscle spasms. 

Recommended Daily Dosages

Most Important

Calcium - 1,000 mg 
Magnesium - 500 mg

Note: Consult your physician if you are suffering from any kidney problems before taking these supplements.


Vitamin E, with mixed tocopherols, 400-800 IU 

The antioxidants and the antioxidant precursors and cofactors: Whenever there is an inflammatory reaction in the body, toxic substances called free radicals are released. These free radicals can cause further damage to tissue, which again increases the inflammation in a kind of vicious circle. Enhancing the antioxidant reaction in the body can help relieve symptoms caused by inflammation.

Vitamin C:
This is an essential antioxidant, which can support healing of musculoskeletal injuries and relieve chronic pain.

Recommended dosage: up to 2000-3000 milligrams per day. 

Bioflavonoids such as quercetin and catechin:
Used with vitamin C. They have an antioxidant effect and also diminish capillary permeability, which can directly reduce joint inflammation and swelling.

Vitamin E:
This has both an anti-inflammatory and an immune regulating effect.

Recommended dosage: up to 800 International Units per day. 

Zinc, copper, and manganese:
These are cofactors for the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), the body's premier naturally produced anti-inflammatory enzyme. SOD acts as a relatively weak anti-inflammatory. Augmenting the body's own SOD with manganese, zinc, and copper, provides a stronger antioxidant effect.

Recommended dosage: 
copper - 2 milligrams twice daily.
zinc - 30 milligrams twice daily.
manganese - 50 milligrams twice daily. 

Zinc and manganese also function directly as antioxidants. Excess zinc can create copper deficiency and depress immune function, so it's important not to consume more than 90 milligrams per day. 
N-acetyl-cysteine and selenium- N-acetyl-cysteine is an amino acid and selenium is a mineral that together function as precursors for glutathione peroxidase, another of the body's own natural antioxidants. Recommended dosage: N-acetyl-cysteine, 600-milligram capsule. three times daily; 
selenium, 200-microgram tablet twice daily. 

These make up an important family of antioxidants from which the body can also synthesize vitamin A. Vitamin A is an important immune-enhancing nutrient. It is also essential for tissue repair.

Recommended dosage: 25,000 International Units daily. 

Vitamin A:
This vitamin assists with cellular repair and regeneration.

Recommended dosage: 10,000 International Units daily.

Essential fatty acids, including EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), and linolenic acid: 

These have been shown to help in treating arthritis, and particularly rheumatoid arthritis. These oils work together through different pathways to reduce inflammatory Prostaglandins. Linolenic acid is found in flaxseed oil and in cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, herring, trout, mackerel, sardines, and cod liver. GLA is found in vegetable sources, including primrose oil, borage oil, and black currant seed oil.

Borage oil is a good source of GLA, or gamma-linolenic acid. It has been shown to improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis as well as other types of musculoskeletal pain. 
Recommended dosage: six 240-milligram capsules of GLA per day. It may be necessary to build up the dosage gradually to establish tolerance. 

Fish oil:  
This is a source of EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 oil, which has similar effects to those of GLA through a related but different metabolic pathway.

Recommended dosage: two to three 1000- or 1700- milligram capsules three times daily.

Flaxseed oil in the same amounts provides a vegetarian alternative. 

Other nutrients are able to relieve pain and slow degenerative processes through different means. 

Vitamin B6:  
This vitamin has been shown to reduce neurological pain and may help with pain caused by pinched nerves, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. It may also help with arthritic symptoms.

Recommended dosage: 50-200 milligrams daily. 

Warning: Higher doses of vitamin B6 may cause toxic neurological side effects, especially when it is taken alone without complementary B vitamins and magnesium. 

Bromelain is
an anti-inflammatory enzyme derived from the pineapple plant. It has been shown to reduce joint swelling and impairment of mobility.

Recommended dosage: 500-1500 milligrams, two or three times daily. 

Glucosamine Sulfate:
This is naturally present in joint cartilage and has been proposed as a therapy for arthritis and possibly disk problems. 

Recommended Dosage: 500 - 1000 milligrams two or three times daily.

See Also: Nutrition Infocenter in Holisticonline.com

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