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Sciatica

General characteristics

General characteristics

Sciatica is a condition in which the sciatic nerve/s becomes inflamed, irritated or 'trapped' causing nerve pain along its length. The sciatic nerve is a long nerve that originates in the lower back around the pelvis and runs down through the buttocks and down the back of each leg, terminating at the heels. The sciatic nerves are the longest nerves in the body.

Pain in the sciatic nerve is usually felt on one side only and can arise when the spinal discs are degenerating or from some form of compression on the sciatic nerve/s due to spinal abnormalities, osteoarthritis, pregnancy, advancing age, being overweight, diabetes or physical damage and trauma. Inflammation or irritation of the nerve can result from infection or conditions such as rheumatism and gout and even congestion, stagnation or displacement of the neighbouring organs such as the bowel (chronic constipation), kidneys or uterus and from constant twisting or heavy lifting.

The type of pain experienced can vary from electric shock like sensations, tingling, numbness and burning and may become worse under certain circumstances such as bending or moving generally.

Healing should focus on determining the cause of the sciatic irritation where possible. Kidney and bowel cleanses could be undertaken if needed and herbs and foods can provide valuable nutrients to aid nerve health. Most cases of sciatica can be resolved within a few weeks when the underlying causes are determined and remedied.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Avoid processed foods, refined carbohydrates and sugary food and drinks.

Drink plenty of fresh water daily. Dehydration can lead to congestion, poor blood flow and a reduction in the amount of bodily wastes excreted.

Eat plenty of magnesium and B vitamin (particularly B12) rich foods such as nuts and whole grains.

Try drinking a large glass of fresh carrot juice daily.

Eat plenty of fresh whole foods such as vegetables, fruits and seeds. Seeds are also rich in essential fatty acids and omega oils which help with inflammation.

Avoid all fizzy drinks (even fizzy water) as they are known to deplete many essential nutrients and can aggravate the nerves.

Eating a few pieces daily of candied ginger or fresh ginger root has helped many people.

Eat plenty of raw garlic.

Blackstrap molasses provides a host of beneficial nutrients and can be taken daily by the teaspoon or added to cooking.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Turmeric is very effective at reducing inflammation and can be added to foods or to other formulas or poultices.

Burdock root is a specific for sciatica. Simmer a teaspoon of the root in a cup of water for 20 minutes and drink, do this 3 times daily. Add some dandelion root, centaury or barberry root for help with constipation.

Make a poultice by adding several cloves of freshly crushed garlic, a pinch of cayenne and a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger to some olive oil and mix thoroughly. Apply to the area affected and lie down in a relaxing position on your front. Leave on for half an hour or so and wash off thoroughly. Repeat daily if needed.

Comfrey leaf is very healing to damaged or irritated nerves and can be made into a poultice to apply along the nerve. Put a handful of dried comfrey leaf into a bowl and pour on just enough boiling water to wet the leaves. Whizz into a paste in a liquidiser by adding olive oil a few drops at a time to get a good thick paste. Apply to the areas affected and leave for half an hour or so before washing off. Repeat daily and add a few other herbs such as a pinch of cayenne or ginger etc to enhance the effects.

herbs that work on the kidneys such as juniper, buchu, celery seeds and bearberry/uva ursi can be added to other tea or tincture mixes for their action on the kidneys and urinary system.

Nettle tea can help to reduce inflammation and irritation of the sciatic nerve and also provides high levels of beneficial nutrients. Drink 3 strong cups (2 teaspoons per cup) daily.

Blood moving herbs such as cayenne, ginger, prickly ash, black or long pepper can be taken in foods or applied to the skin in poultice mixes to encourage fresh blood to flow to and from the area, bringing with it nutrients and taking away wastes.

Birch leaves, willow bark and meadowsweet all contain aspirin like pain relievers and thin the blood making it more free flowing. Add one or all of these to other formulas for their particular properties.

Nerve pain can be reduced by taking herbs such as st johns wort, valerian, chamomile, skullcap and black cohosh. Use equal parts of the tinctures and take a teaspoon of the mix 3 times daily.

Ground ivy is an old fashioned remedy for sciatica.

Any of the herbs mentioned above can be mixed into a formula that is specific for your needs.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Essential oils such as wintergreen, rosemary, cypress, clove, chamomile can be added to a carrier oil such as olive or wheatgerm to help relieve inflammation and pain.

Drink garlic milk daily, an old tried and tested remedy for sciatica (and worms). Add two large cloves of crushed garlic to 100ml of warm milk and drink 2 of these daily.

Castor oil packs can also help.

Osteopathic, chiropractic, massage or cranio-sacral therapists may help with sciatica arising from displacement of bones/discs etc.

These videos give some examples of useful exercises and stretches that are helpful for sciatica.


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