Back pain is extremely common. It’s usually caused by poor posture, stress, pregnancy, injuries, and autoimmune conditions like ankylosing spondylitis, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. While the cause needs to be dealt with such as when you have poor posture, taking care of the pain and inflammation is often a huge part of the treatment.
Medical professionals are quick to prescribe pain medication. Usually, the medication will include anti-inflammatories lower the inflammation too, but the side effects of these medications can include liver problems, kidney problems, or damage to the lining of the stomach. It’s not to say that you will develop these problems, but why take the risk if you don’t need to.
Some people even find that these medications do not help. Using turmeric as a home remedy for back pain, however, has been shown to be quite effective.
How Does Turmeric Help Back Pain?
Turmeric contains curcumin which is responsible for its yellow color and is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Researchers have been looking into using it for conditions like arthritis and the studies have shown that turmeric can definitely help. If you’ve been wondering but is turmeric as good for back pain as NSAIDS, yes it is. (1, 2).
Turmeric effectively reduces pain.
While large doses of turmeric can affect some people negatively, the effects are not dangerous unlike those of conventional medications and a lower dose can be taken, it will still be useful in the body. Turmeric, in fact, has many additional benefits, not just anti-inflammatory properties (3).
Food amounts are safe during pregnancy, for example, the amount that you would use in a curry. This can be very helpful as many types of medications are not safe at all during pregnancy and back pain is so common during pregnancy.
How to Use Turmeric For Back Pain Relief
Turmeric is quite a versatile spice so you can use it in a quite a few ways, sweet or savory. While you can use turmeric powder for back pain, you can also use the actual root. Both ways will help. Try both to see which is more effective for you. Fresh turmeric will be more flavorful.
1. Turmeric Tea
You can use just use turmeric tea if you’d like or you can use it with other spices known to be anti-inflammatory too.
For a single cup, you can use ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground turmeric, you can use half the amount of dry turmeric.
Add this to boiling water and leave it to steep for 5-10 minutes (the dry turmeric takes less time to steep).
The turmeric won’t dissolve, so you may want to strain it first if you would prefer that.
You can drink it plain or add some lemon or some milk (dairy or plant-based) and/or some honey.
Spices you might like to blend turmeric with:
Boswellia, also known as frankincense (3)
Pepper, it actually boosts the body’s ability to absorb and use turmeric.
Some of these may seem strange, but they go together well. Chai spice is often a blend of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, and sometimes ginger and/or turmeric too. You can add a pinch or ¼ teaspoon of one of these other spices or a combination of them with the turmeric and brew the tea the same way. It will also depend on your taste.
You may find turmeric tea in health shops or find it in a tea blend too. Be sure to look for bleach or chlorine-free teabags if you prefer a store-bought tea.
2. Turmeric Milk
This drink is often used to relax before going to bed as well as relieving back pain. Though you can drink it at any time, if your back pain keeps you up at night, drinking turmeric milk an hour before bed can help.
Heat up a cup of milk (dairy or plant-based).
Add up to a tablespoon of ground turmeric.
Add some honey if you want to sweeten it.
For extra flavor, you can also add some cinnamon, or try a drop or two of vanilla extract.
If you are pregnant, it’s safe to drink a glass of warm milk with a pinch of turmeric for lower back pain as larger doses are not recommended. Don’t drink it every day, however, especially if you are also seasoning your food with turmeric. Every few days is safe.
3. Tumeric Massage Oil
You can also relieve the pain by applying it topically. In this case, you can use the dried version, but a turmeric essential oil may be easier, less messy, and help to prevent stains.
Add ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder per tablespoon of carrier oil.
You can slightly warm the mixture but rubbing a bit of the mixture between your hands will also heat the oil and your hands up.
Then simply massage your back for a few minutes, up to half an hour is fine and very relaxing.
You should then rinse your back because this method is quite messy.
Turmeric essential oil:
Dilute 2-10 drops of turmeric essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil.
You can massage as per the above method.
It’s your choice whether to rinse your back off or not, but if your back is quite oily it can ruin your clothing.
Carrier oils options include:
If you like a lighter oil, the grapeseed oil and jojoba oils are a good option, olive oil and coconut oil are a little bit heavier.
Other essential oils you can add if you like a mix (6):
4. Tumeric and Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera applied topically can also reduce pain (7). When combined with turmeric, you can create a gel or paste to apply. Turmeric essential oil, or using a few drops of turmeric tea may be of better use as you may need to wash the paste off to prevent making a mess on your clothing.
You can use some store-bought aloe gel or you can squeeze the gel out of a fresh aloe leaf after cutting it.
Add either a teaspoon of turmeric powder or a few drops of turmeric oil (or tea, though you will need less as it will make the gel too runny otherwise) to the gel.
Mix it together and rub it into your back.
If you used the powder, you can leave it on for up to half an hour before rinsing it.
5. Turmeric Tincture
A tincture is an extract, usually in alcohol. You can take a few drops on your tongue, but you can also add it to water, tea, milk, or a smoothie. 10-15 drops up to 4 times a day can be used.
6. Add Turmeric to Dishes
Turmeric is great in curries but you can also add it to other foods such as rice, potatoes, meat dishes, pasta dishes, and in dipping sauces. Because of its mild flavor, you can also use turmeric in your oatmeal, or in the occasional pudding. Because smoothies are so flavorful, you can get away with adding more turmeric to them. Up to a tablespoon will work well in smoothies.
Seasoning your food with turmeric is a great way to consume turmeric for pregnant women, those who don’t like drinking turmeric, or for those who find that high doses cause nausea or diarrhea.
7. Turmeric Supplements
Tumeric supplements can contain any amount of turmeric up to 1000 mg. Many people find 400-600 mg of turmeric beneficial. This is a good way of taking turmeric if you don’t like it in your food or like to use it as a gel or massage oil.
Tips and Precautions
Overall, tolerable amounts of turmeric per day are between 1 g and 3 g for the powder and root, 30-90 drops of the extract and 0.5 ml to 1.5 ml of the tincture (8). Start at a low dose first to see how your body reacts. In some people, high doses can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Turmeric, as mentioned, is not safe in high doses during pregnancy as it can stimulate contractions in the uterus.
If you have a bleeding disorder or are on blood thinning medications you should not use turmeric in medicinal quantities. Just use it to season your food. Massages may also not be a good idea as you will be more prone to bruising.
If your back pain is due to an injury, resting for a week or two is best.
If your back pain is due to a condition, light exercise can also help with the pain and will increase mobility. Walking, swimming, stretching and stationary bikes can help you to exercise without causing too much jarring. Speak to your doctor before starting an exercise routine.
Poor posture can be corrected by strengthening your core, consciously making an effort to sit and stand up straight, good quality furniture especially types designed with back support, and making sure that if you work at a desk your computer is at eye level so that you don’t need to look down or hunch over to see it.
Couches and mattresses can cause back pain if they are too soft because you sink into them. Your neck and spine should always be aligned, so make sure your pillows aren’t too high or too low either when you sleep.
Inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle is a major cause of back pain as is being overweight. Eating nutritious food and cutting out processed foods is a great start toward being healthy. Make sure that you exercise between 30 minutes and an hour 3-6 days a week. Pick a form of exercise that you enjoy.
If you would like more tips on how to treat back pain, check out these remedies. Please let us know if these turmeric remedies have helped you and what your favorite way to use turmeric is.
Jane Scott grew up on a farm in California and is a crossover between a country girl and an evangelist for healthier living. She’s a nutritionist who preaches that healthy living need not be complicated.
She believes that by exercising regularly, eating mostly non-processed foods (with plenty of vegetables), and using home remedies for the small things and doctor’s advice for the big things, almost anybody can feel great and live a happier and healthier life. She’s excited to share her knowledge of natural remedies and healthier living on HRFL.
In her spare time, Jane enjoys cooking and watching bad rom-coms. She also loves nuts, and is a bit of a nut herself when it comes to Yoga, which she’s a little too obsessed with in the opinion of her friends and family.