6 Effective Dietary Supplements for Back Pain

Medically reviewed by Beth Holloway, RN, M. Ed,
April 23rd, 2020

It is possible to find more natural remedies for back pain. There are evidence-based dietary supplements and herbal remedies you can take to bring you relief.

These supplements work best when combined with lifestyle choices, such as practicing good posture and staying active. 

Here are some of the most effective supplements for back pain, according to experts:

  • MSM

  • Turmeric

  • Willow's bark 

  • Co-Q10

  • Devil's claw

  • Magnesium

MSM

MSM, or Methylsulfonylmethane, is a sulfur-based element found in animals, plants, and humans. MSM is a popular dietary supplement used to manage painful conditions such as back pain and headaches. It comes in capsule or tablet form.

MSM has been found to lessen pain, swelling, and joint discomfort. People who took it also reported an improved quality of life.

MSM can also serve as a more natural option for those with arthritis. One study found that patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, after taking MSM for 12 weeks, showed an improvement in pain and physical function.

Co-Q10 (Coenzyme Q10)

Co-Q10 is a naturally occurring substance in the body. The highest concentrations of CoQ10 are found in the kidney, heart, liver, and pancreas. You can also find Co-Q10 in dietary sources. These include certain meats and nuts, as well as some fruits and vegetables. 

Taking an additional dosage of CoQ10 can be useful in pain management. 

Studies have shown Co-Q10 to be helpful for patients with fibromyalgia. Taking Co-Q10 supplements helps with tiredness, pain, and  sleep problems associated with fibromyalgia.

Precautions:Those with problems with low blood pressure, take caution. Co-Q10 may lower blood pressure levels.

 

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral found in our bones. It plays a significant role in over 300 chemical reactions in the human body.  

You can find magnesium in many foods, including beef, yogurt, rice, and spinach. 

Pumpkin seeds, in particular, have a very high concentration of magnesium. One ounce of pumpkin seeds has approximately 168 mg of magnesium. For context, the recommended daily intake for adults is between approximately 310-420 mg.

Magnesium is used to help painful chronic conditions like low back pain.  It may also reduce the need for pain medication post-surgery.

Precautions:If you have any underlying conditions associated with your:

  • blood pressure

  • heart

  • liver

  • kidneys

Talk to your doctor before use as it may cause some problems.

Turmeric

Derived from the root of the tumeric plant, this spice has healing effects that may help with pain. 

Turmeric contains curcumin and other chemicals that lessen swelling or inflammation. As a nutritional supplement, it may be available in soft gels or capsules. 

A recent review and analysis of dietary supplements found curcumin to significantly reduce short-term pain in people with osteoarthritis of the hands, hips, or knees.

Turmeric is most effective when taken with fat-containing food or oil. 

Precautions:Those with:

  • Diabetes

  • Gallbladder disease

  • Bleeding problems

  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)

  • Female hormone conditions

  • Low iron levels

Talk to your doctor before using turmeric. 

Devil's Claw

Devil's claw is a plant native to South Africa.  It contains iriod glycosides, a class of compounds demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory effects

Taking a daily dose of devil's claw extract can have a similar effect to NSAIDs. This makes it a popular solution for pain for those who prefer  complementary medicine. 

You can take devil's claw alone. It may also be an ingredient in other products, such as herbal teas. 

Precautions:If you have heart or blood pressure problems, use devil's claw with caution as it may affect your heart rate or blood pressure.

 

Willow Bark

Willow bark has been used for centuries as a pain reliever. It originates from the willow tree of the Salix species. 

The active ingredient in willow bark is salicin, which is like aspirin. Like aspirin, willow bark may reduce fever, swelling, or inflammation. It can also be used for headaches, muscle pain, and menstrual cramps.

Three separate trials found (though the studies were low quality) that daily doses of 120-240 mg of salicin improve short-term pain, when compared to a placebo group. 

Precautions:Those with:

  • Blood pressure problems

  • Bleeding problems

  • Kidney disease

  • Gastrointestinal problems

Use willow bark with caution.

Get Started Today

Dietary supplements and herbal remedies can be a tremendous help for those with back pain. 

At Goodpath, we only recommend remedies we feel are the best fit for you and the symptoms you are experiencing. 

Take our back pain assessment now, and we can get you started on a personalized treatment plan. 

Our integrative plans include solutions such as exercise videos, over-the-counter medicines, and the appropriate dietary supplements for you and your specific needs.