Degenerative Disc Disease and the Use of Supplements and Herbs


What is degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a condition of the spine, in which one or more of the discs between the vertebrae, also known as intervertebral discs, cause neck or back pain. Intervertebral discs are the cushions between the vertebrae; they keep the back pliable and enable the body to bend, twist, and carry weight. Intervertebral discs are mainly composed of water, and as a person ages, the discs dry out, lose their flexibility, elasticity, and the ability to absorb shock. When this causes pain, it is referred to as degenerative disc disease.

Supplements and herbs

Supplements either contain dietary proprietary ingredients or medicinal ingredients and are classified into different categories: dietary, herbal or vitamin. Certain supplements may be beneficial for the treatment of degenerative disk disease. They generally come in tablet, soft gel, liquid or powder form and are taken orally.

Types of supplements and herbs that may help with degenerative disc disease symptoms include the following:

  • White willow bark reduces inflammation and pain and is gentler on the stomach than aspirin.
  • Devil's claw is a shrub with red flowers and can reduce inflammation. It is available in powder or pill form.
  • Cat's claw is known to help with infection, inflammation and pain reduction.
  • Chamomile may help relieve insomnia caused by pain associated with degenerative disk disease.
  • Ginger can reduce pain caused by inflammation and is a natural alternative to conventional pain medications. Ginger is available in many forms: fresh, powdered, dried, oil or juice.
  • Turmeric is known to have pain-reducing power and helps reduce inflammation. Turmeric can be found fresh, dried or powdered.
  • Curcumin, known for its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory activities, is an active compound found in turmeric and can aid with pain relief.
  • Kudzu can reduce inflammation by interrupting the body’s inflammatory response. It can be taken in pill or powder form.
  • Lavender has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It can be used with massage therapy to help relieve neck and back pain.
  • St. John's wort may ease pain associated with degenerative disk disease. It is available in pill and powder form and can be brewed in tea. St. John’s wort should only be used under the guidance of a physician as it can interact with many medications.

Consulting with a physician or pharmacist before taking any supplement is essential. Serious interactions between supplements and medications can occur.

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