Degenerative Disc Disease is a type of arthritis that occurs in the spine. Fortunately, natural remedies for degenerative disc disease can be very effective at reducing pain and improving function. Natural remedies for degenerative disc disease include herbs for pain relief, dietary changes to reverse the disease, and exercise to better support the spine.
What causes Degenerative Disc Disease?
Certainly age takes its toll on the body, including those important discs in the spine. As the discs lose mass, elasticity, and fluidity, the cushion they provide between the bones is less. This can also mean that nerves are less cushioned, causing nerve related disorders like sciatica and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Injuries can cause damage to the discs as well. Repetitive motion that affects the discs can also result in deterioration of the disc(s) due to the repeated stress.
If you are overweight the discs in the spine and, in fact, all of your joints will have to work harder to support the body, causing degeneration over time from the extra stress on the joints.
A sedentary lifestyle can hasten degenerative disc disease. Loss of muscle strength and stamina puts more stress on the discs.
Inadequate nutrition will have a negative effect on the health of your discs. Lacking the proper nutrients to support and repair the discs will mean the supporting and repairing is left undone!
Some medications have side effects that can cause degeneration in the body, including the skeletal system, which includes the discs.
What are the Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease?
While it is possible to have degenerative disc disease and not have pain, pain of some sort is the most common symptom of this disease. Pain is common in the back and neck, where the discs are degrading. If nerves are affected by the degeneration, nerve diseases can result, causing additional pain.
It is common for pain to be worse when the spine is in the same position for a long time, as when you are sitting in the car for a long drive, or if you happen to sleep in the same position all night long. Extra strain on the spine from bending or lifting can also bring more pain. Nerve pain in the arms, legs, feet and hands can accompany degenerative disc disease. It can become difficult to find any position at all the brings more than temporary relief.
Typical treatments for degenerative disc disease include prescription or over the counter pain medication, physical therapy and sometimes surgery.
Natural treatments for degenerative disc disease include herbal pain relievers, dietary changes, supplements and exercise.
If you are suffering from degenerative disc disease your first priority will be to relieve pain. Next you will want to make lifestyle changes to prevent further damage to your discs and even reverse some of the damage.
Natural Pain Relief for Degenerative Disc Disease
Turmeric is an excellent natural anti-inflammatory. 2-4 capsules are taken with a glass of water 1-3 times a day. The water is important to avoid the risk of constipation.
Lemon Juice with Baking Soda
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda provides vitamins and nutrients to your body and also helps to alkalize the body. When your body is acidic, you pain is often more intense.
Mullein root tincture can be taken internally (1 dropperful in water on an empty stomach 2-3 times a day) or it can be massaged topically into the skin along the spine. Mullein root helps to increase the synovial fluid in joints which provides some extra cushion in the joints.
Warm baths with either Epsom salt (1 cup) or baking soda/citric acid (1/4 cup baking soda and 1/8 cup citric acid) can bring pain relieve and even help to begin the healing process. Epsom salt provides magnesium and the baking soda/citric acid bath helps to oxygenate the body as it absorbs the CO2 bubbles. Ozone therapy, typically by injection, has been found to reduce pain from degenerative disc disease.1 The oxygenating bath may be an easy home solution if ozone therapy is not an option.
Dietary Changes to Reverse Degenerative Disc Disease
Your body needs good nutrition to work well. If you put bad gasoline in your car, it will not run well. It may not run at all. If you do not give your body what it needs to do its work, it will not work well for you.
1. Eat a Variety of Whole Foods
Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Use some good fat every day (coconut oil, olive oil, butter) and limit the amount of fried foods or hydrogenated oils you use.
Use whole grains and lean meats.
Use moderation. Look at your diet – the foods you consume and the liquids you drink. Is there anything you use excessively? Coffee? Alcohol? Potato Chips? Cookies? Fast food? Any of these excesses can reduce the amount of nutritious foods and beverages that you consume for your body to use for healing.
2. Hydrate Your Body
Keep your body well hydrated. Coffee, soda, and alcoholic beverages are largely empty calories and should be used quite moderately. Instead drink herbal tea and pure water.
3. Make and Eat Bone Broth
Affluent cultures often do not make use of a simple but very nourishing staple of times past – bone broth.
This broth is wonderful for joint health and many other body systems (including your gut!) It provides an excellent and easily absorbable form a variety of nutrients which support the skeletal system including collagen, silicon, calcium, magnesium, chondroitin sulfate, proline, glucosamine and hyaluronic acid. You may notice that this list contains a number of things that are sold individually as supplements for joint health. Bone broth gives you the supplements in an easily absorbable form. Does it not make sense the bones and joints of animal bones would contain the same building blocks as human bones?
It need not be intimidating. After you have removed the meat from bones (raw or leftover from dinner), put the bones (chicken, beef, fish) into a crock pot. Cover with boiling water. Add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Cook on low for 24 hours. Strain out the bones. Add sea salt (about 1 teaspoon per quart) and other spices you like. Freeze the resulting broth in containers appropriate for your needs. Try to consume 1-2 cups each day. You can use this as a base for soups, a hot beverage, or instead of water when you cook rice.
Vitamin D is needed for bone health. Make an effort to get some sunshine each day. On rainy days or during the winter, consider a vitamin D supplement. But remember, more is not better with fat soluble vitamins like vitamin D.
Did you know that scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) can cause joint pain? Sometimes joint disorders are actually caused by scurvy. Adding a vitamin C supplement to your diet can relieve this issue.
In the past Hyaluronic acid has been injected at the site of arthritic joints to reduce pain. Medical studies and personal experience are now showing that oral doses of hyaluronic acid can also reduce pain. In one study, a 200 mg daily dose of hyaluronic acid, combined with strengthening exercises were found to significantly reduce pain in knee arthritis.2
Exercise will increase blood flow to the discs. Blood brings the nutrients needed for healing. Exercise strengthens muscles in the back to allow the muscles to do more of the work of supporting the spine. This will require less work from the compromised discs. A physical therapist should be able to help you find exercises appropriate for your age, health, and current situation.
Do you have a natural remedy for degenerative disc disease? Please send us some feedback!