In Ayurveda, sciatica is known as Gridhrasi, meaning ‘vulture’. The word is used to describe the limping gait that a person suffering from the excruciating pain caused by sciatica will have. Vata means something that spreads and in Ayurveda, pain is considered to be a Vata problem. Therefore, a Vata disorder is believed to cause sciatica. The sciatica pain starts from the lower back and spreads down to the leg.In Ayurveda scriptures, a Vata subtype referred to as Apana Vata rules the lower back and is centred in the pelvis, colon, and lumbosacral region. At this point, the Vata influences a number of physiological functions such as movement of the lower back, thighs and hips, and the body’s excretory process. An excess of dry quality Vata leads to not only weakness but also structural changes in the spine joints.
The four natural ayurvedic treatments for sciatica and lower back pain are as follows:
#1: Kati Vasti
This lower back pain treatment is unique to Ayurveda. While ‘Kati’ means the lower back, the meaning of the word ‘Basti’ is ‘to hold’. This Ayurvedic treatment for lower back pain involves forming a well using flour dough on a person’s lower back and filling it up with warm oil. As the oil cools down, it is replaced with warm oil to maintain the temperature at the lower back. This increases the circulation of blood in the area, relaxes the muscles, relieves pain, improves movement, and reduces stiffness.
#2: Abhyangam/Kizhi/ Upanahams /Steam Therapy
A traditional full body oil massage (Abhyanga) relieves muscle tensions to a great extent. Massaging is done using medicated ayurvedic herbal oils. The oils get absorbed into the body through the skin and provide nourishment. After the oil massage, the patient is subjected to steam therapy to further soften as well as relax muscles. The patients may be given either localized or full body steam therapy as deemed necessary. Steam therapy and massage are considered to be the most popular Ayurvedic treatments for sciatica and lower back pain.
#3: Therapeutic Enema
In this sciatica treatment, herbal oil or herbal preparation (concoction) is inserted into the patient’s colon. The therapeutic enema removes excess Vata from the pelvic area. The rectum and the colon have a good amount of blood as well as lymph supply and, therefore, allow effective absorption. The studies that have been carried out by experts reveal that the substances delivered through enemas are passed on to the bloodstream more effectively than that done through oral administration. This is because it bypasses the metabolic that takes place in the liver.
#4: Herbal Supplements for Sciatica Relief
The herbs listed below have been found to be effective in the reduction of Vata, especially in the pelvic area. However, it is important that you consult an Ayurveda practitioner prior to taking any ayurvedic medicine for sciatica pain.
Castor oil works as a purgative and helps in removing excess Vata.
Dashamula is a traditional herbal concoction. It is prepared by using roots of ten herbs.
Ashwagandha is one of the most popular Ayurveda herbs used by practitioners. Ashwagandha provides nourishment, rejuvenating effect, and pain reduction.
Guggulu, a gum resin that is obtained from a tree, exhibits strong pain reduction and anti-inflammatory properties. It is widely used for relieving joints.
In many cases of sciatica and/or lower back pain, traditional Ayurvedic treatments have been found to be very effective. People suffering from these conditions have either reduced the use of painkillers or have stopped taking them. Some have even escaped spinal injections and surgery. Apart from the natural ayurvedic treatments for sciatica and lower back pain mentioned above, Ayurveda practitioners often advise patients on incorporating lifestyle and dietary changes to prevent recurrence of lower back pain. This enables the whole body to regain balance.