Using supplements for sciatica is a controversial topic. Some experts recommend the use of supplements to reduce inflammation, improve sleep and encourage healing, while others feel that supplements are a waste of time.
Aims of this post:
- To give a list of some of the top supplements that have potential to help with sciatica
- To talk about the exact mechanisms behind why these supplements may work well for some people
- To show you where to get these supplements from high quality sources
Personally, I feel that there is some value to the use of supplements in the battle against sciatica. This is partly because the implementation of a “whole-body approach” is absolutely necessary in order to return the body to its healthy state after a bout of sciatica.
In several of my previous articles, I have spoken about the importance of reducing inflammation throughout the body when dealing with sciatica. If the body is unhealthy and inflamed, there is no chance of the offending nerve root settling down to allow sufficient pain relief.
Several of the supplements I recommend in this article have been shown to reduce inflammatory markers throughout the body and may help in relieving your irritated nerve root of its surrounding inflammation.
I have also previously spoken about the importance of sleep in recovery from sciatica. The fact is, someone who is sleep deprived has very little chance of regaining their full health.
Some of the supplements in this report have been used effectively as sleep aids by many people; if they can improve the duration and quality of sleep, they will certainly aid recovery.
You will also find some supplements on here that may be able to aid in pain relief. These are supplements that have been reported to have pain relieving benefits through a variety of mechanisms, of which I will go into more detail later on.
The supplements recommended here should in no way be used as a substitute for medication. You should always consult your doctor before starting with a new supplement to check that it won’t have harmful interactions with your current medication or medical condition. You should also check for allergy information specific to you for each of these supplements and avoid them if in any doubt. This report only states the potential benefits of these products as claimed by the manufacturer and the people that use them and I cannot guarantee any specific results for those who start using them. I also cannot be held accountable for any problems that should arise from the use of these supplements.
I also want to make you aware that if you choose to purchase a product through the link provided, I will receive a small commission that goes towards the running of this site. So thank you if you do choose to purchase a supplement through one of my links, it helps to keep Overcome Sciatica alive! If you would prefer not to use my links, you can write down the product name and then navigate to the product manually through your web browser.
Supplement #1 – Organic Turmeric Curcumin Capsules with Black Pepper
Turmeric is a popular Indian spice, and is the yellow colouring used in curries. The reason turmeric is touted as an anti-inflammatory supplement is that it contains a substance called “curcumin”, which is its active ingredient. Curcumin acts as a strong anti-inflammatory and
anti-oxidant within the body (Jurenka, 2009). It is such a powerful anti-inflammatory that this researcher reported its effects to be as strong as those of prescription medication.
Turmeric is quite popular as a supplement for arthritis and is reported by many to have a noticeable effect on pain relief even when used for a short period. Compared to other supplements and medications, turmeric has been described as less expensive and much
safer to use (Aggarwal et al., 2009).
The reason it is supplied as a supplement rather than simple a dietary addition is that turmeric itself only contains about 3% curcumin (Tayem et al., 2006); so you would have to consume a huge amount of turmeric to get the same benefits as a simple tablet supplement.
The reason this supplement combines curcumin with black pepper is the fact that a substance in black pepper increases the absorption of curcumin within the body by about 2000% (Shoba et al., 1998)!
The price here of £13.95 is great value and will get you up to 120 days-worth. Sash Vitality also have excellent reviews for this product, with Amazon listing this supplement as their number 1 for “arthritis pain relief”.
Supplement #2 – Omega-3/Fish Oil
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid found in fish oil. The best types of fish to include in your diet in order to take in more Omega-3 are the oily kind – like salmon, mackerel and trout.
In the typical diet of most Westerners, there isn’t enough oily fish to see a significant benefit from Omega-3. That is why Omega-3 supplements are some of the most popular on the market today.
Omega-3 has been shown to have a whole slew of benefits, including better heart health, reduced inflammatory response and a purported benefit to the joints (Maroon & Bost, 2006).
Maroon & Bost conducted a study which asked participants with lower back pain and sciatica to try Omega-3 supplements as a substitute for NSAID’s (like Ibuprofen or Naproxen). At the end of their study, 59% discontinued to take their prescription NSAID medications for pain.
60% stated that their overall pain and joint pain had improved. Eighty percent stated that they were satisfied with their improvement, and 88% stated they would continue to take the fish oil. There were no significant side effects reported.
At such a low price for such profound benefits, it’s no surprise that Omega-3 supplements are so popular.
These ones from Amazon represent superb value for money and are higher quality than the general supermarket-own brand. These supplements are specially filtered to ensure there are no impurities, unlike in some cheaper brands.
Supplement #3 – Spirulina
Spirulina is thought to reduce body weight in obese people, reduce fatigue, improve blood pressure and reduce viral load in hepatitis, slightly improve exercise performance, and reduce allergic rhinitis.
It does this by limiting the activity of a certain enzyme, called NOX. This enzyme is very important, but it can worsen inflammation when present in high concentrations in the blood stream, which has the knock-on effect of making sciatica symptoms worse.
Spirulina has been shown to limit this enzyme safely and effectively. The supplement itself is extracted from a type of algae, so it is a naturally occurring product.
The one I am recommending here is in capsule form – usually, Spirulina is sold as a powder for DIY-mixing, but I would personally prefer a quick and easy capsule for consumption.
Supplement #4 – Vitamin B12
As sciatica arises from an irritation of the sciatic nerve, it makes sense for us to do everything we can to optimise nerve health.
Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in keeping our nerves healthy. It does this by improving the production of “myelin”, the insulator that covers the nerves in our body. Myelin acts like the covering of electrical wires and helps increase the speed of impulses along your nerve cells.
Vitamin B12 also promotes the regeneration and growth of nerve cells. Sciatica, which causes nerve pain, numbness or tingling, can actually be caused and made worse by deficiencies of vitamin B12 in the body.
Vitamin B12 is found primarily in meat, poultry, fish and eggs; however, taking a supplement can be a great way to guarantee that you are taking in enough of this important vitamin each and every day.
By taking Vitamin B12 supplements, such as the one I have provided as an exemplary here, you will also get benefits like an improved immune system and a reduction in fatigue.
Supplement #5 – Sleep aids
It is no secret that sciatica can significantly hamper a restful night’s sleep. The worst part about this fact is that sleep is absolutely essential for proper healing to occur (Adam, 1984).
Without normal sleep, inflammation and irritation will remain for a substantially longer period of time than if we were able to guarantee a consistent and deep sleep.
This sleep supplement contains the following ingredients with some significant benefits:
- 5-HTP – Proven to deepen sleep and an immediate precursor to Serotonin.
- L-Theanine – Proven to reduce stress.
- Lemon Balm – Proven to improve mood and/ or cognitive performance
- L-Tryptophan – Proven benefits for getting off to sleep.
- Magnesium – Contributes to normal psychological function and is shown to reduce
cortisol ‘the stress hormone’.
- Vitamin B6 – Contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity
The reviews online are also very encouraging for this product.
Usually, when we can normalise someone’s sleep pattern, that’s when we start to see symptomatic improvements following on from this.
You can read all about my other tips to improve your sleep when you have sciatica in this article here.
Supplement #6 – Garlic & Ginger
This is a superb supplement for anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant purposes. I stated in this article here about how ginger and garlic can contribute to a sciatica-friendly diet. After searching around, I have found a supplement that combines both of these powerful spices
for the ultimate convenience anti-inflammatory hit!
Ginger is beneficial against nausea but it also is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories, modulating multiple pathways to reduce pain and inflammation, thus reducing the need for potentially harmful anti-inflammatory chemical painkillers (Abascal et al., 2006).
Garlic has also been shown to reduce inflammation, but also encourage wound healing (Ejaz et al., 2009). The study which showed this was performed with post-surgical patients; so if you are recovering from surgery for sciatica, this supplement has great potential to help you bounce back quicker, too.
So, those are my top recommended supplements for sciatica. You’ll find anti-inflammatory, improved healing and better sleep as just some of the benefits of a trial of these supplements.
You may also notice an improvement in overall health, as most of these supplements have been shown to have more than just one benefit when taken consistently.
As always when starting a new supplement or medication, make sure you consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before commencing any new supplement.
Thanks as always for reading, and I hope some of the information in this article has been useful to you!
Abascal K, Yarnell E. (2006). Herbs for Curbing Inflammation. Altern Complement Ther. 22–29.
Adam, K., Oswald, I. (1984). Sleep helps healing. British Medical Journal. 289(6456). 1400-1401.
Aggarwal, B.B., Harikumar, K.B. (2009). Potential therapeutic effects of curcumin, the antiinflammatoryagent, against neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases. The International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology. 41(1). 40-59.
Ejaz, S., Chekarova, I., Cho, J.W., Lee, S.Y., Ashraf, S., Lim, C.W. (2009). Effect of aged garlic extract on wound healing: a new frontier in wound management. Drug Chem Toxicol. 32(3):191–203.
Jurenka, J.S. (2009) Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research. Altern Med Rev. 14(2). 141- 153.
Maroon, J.C., Bost, J.W. (2006). Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Surg Neurol. 65(4). 326-331.
Shoba, G., Joy, D., Joseph, T., Majeed, M., Rajendran, R., Srinivas, P.S. (1998) Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 64(4). 353-356.
Tayem, R.F., Heath, D.D., Al-Delaimy, W.K., Rock, C.L. (2006) Curcumin content of turmeric and curry powders. Nutr Cancer. 55(2). 126-131.