Nutrition Supplements vs. Pharmaceuticals for Low Back Pain

If you have low back prob­lems, you’re ready to do near­ly any­thing to get some relief.

If you see your med­ical doc­tor, you may get a pre­scrip­tion for some “help­ful” drugs.  The com­mon types of drugs pre­scribed for low back pain are:

  • non-steroidal anti-inflam­ma­to­ries (NSAID’s),
  • mus­cle relax­ants, and
  • opi­ate pain reliev­ers.

pill bottle


None of these direct­ly attack the under­ly­ing cause of your back prob­lem.  And each of them has the poten­tial for harm­ful side effects.

For­tu­nate­ly, there are nutri­tion sup­ple­ments that some author­i­ties believe to be effec­tive at reliev­ing pain, lim­it­ing inflam­ma­tion, and rebuild­ing healthy tis­sues.  And what’s even bet­ter is that the side effects of these nutri­tion prod­ucts are pos­i­tive ones.  Instead of swal­low­ing chem­i­cals that try to over­ride your body’s phys­i­o­log­i­cal process­es, your body will be get­ting the build­ing blocks you need for health.

Here are your most impor­tant nutri­tion­al pain fight­ers:

  • Essen­tial fat­ty acids

The bal­ance of fat­ty acids that most Amer­i­cans con­sume is so far out of whack that you’re prone to pain and inflam­ma­tion.  Many peo­ple take sup­ple­men­tal fish oil to address this imbal­ance.  And there are sup­ple­ments that com­bine marine oils with ben­e­fi­cial oils from plants (bor­age, flax seed, and oth­ers.)

But unless you dras­ti­cal­ly cut back your intake of harm­ful veg­etable oils — corn oil, sun­flower oil, saf­flower oil, canola oil, to name a few — you’ll nev­er get your fat­ty acids in bal­ance.   These oils are wide­ly used in processed and pre­pared foods.  Be aware!

  • Vit­a­min D

Shock­ing­ly, one-third to one-half of Amer­i­cans may be defi­cient in vit­a­min D.   And, since low lev­els of D are cor­re­lat­ed with chron­ic pain, those with low back prob­lems are even more like­ly to be short of this impor­tant vit­a­min.

  • Anti-inflam­ma­to­ry herbs: boswellia, cur­cum­in, and white wil­low bark

These herbs are thought to have an anti-inflam­ma­to­ry effect, lim­it­ing pain and speed­ing tis­sue heal­ing.  Use them in com­bi­na­tion.

  • Glu­cosamine sul­fate

Glu­cosamine is a build­ing block for the car­ti­lage that forms the discs between the bones of the low back.  Many experts believe that using glu­cosamine as a sup­ple­ment reduces pain and rebuilds a health­i­er back in the long run.

  • Pro­te­olyt­ic enzymes

These are enzymes which are used to digest the pro­teins in our diet.  Brome­lain (found in man­go) and papain (from pineap­ple) are two exam­ples.  If you take them with a meal, they’ll work in your stom­ach to help process the pro­teins you’re eat­ing.  But if you take them in between meals, their effect will bypass the stom­ach and help alle­vi­ate pain and swelling in injured areas of your body.

More infor­ma­tion?  Con­tact Dr. Lavine at

Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

Anti-inflam­ma­to­ry diet to fight back pain


About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods.

His website,, provides more information about his approach.

Please contact him at or at 212-400-9663.

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