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Herbal Treatment for a Herniated Disc

author image Robyn Hughes
Robyn Hughes has been writing since 2008 about health, nutrition, fitness and botanical medicine. She is a naturopathic physician and freelance writer based in Durham, N.C. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in cognitive science from Indiana University and a doctoral degree from the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Ore.
Herbal Treatment for a Herniated Disc
Young woman holding her neck in pain. Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Herniated disc is a spine-related condition that primarily affects young and middle-aged individuals. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons states that a herniated disc is a common cause of pain in your neck, lower back, arms and legs. Pain that originates in your spine can spread down one or more of your limbs. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits associated with herbal medicine before taking herbs for your herniated disc.

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Herniated Disc

Herniated disc is a relatively common spinal problem, although it can be extremely painful and debilitating. According to, a herniated disc occurs when material -- a portion of your intervertebral discs -- between your spinal bones protrudes into your spinal canal and interferes with your spinal cord or your spinal nerve roots. Spinal nerve roots are branches of your spinal cord that transmit signals between your central and peripheral nervous systems. Pain, numbness, tingling and decreased range of motion are common signs and symptoms of herniated disc.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies for herniated discs usually target the pain and inflammation associated with this musculoskeletal injury. Herbal medicine expert Ed Smith, author of "Therapeutic Herb Manual," states that certain herbs are known for their analgesic, or pain-relieving, action, including arnica, black cohosh, California poppy, meadowsweet, butterbur, St. John's wort and wild yam. Notable anti-inflammatory herbs include burdock, feverfew and turmeric. Some of these herbs are taken internally while others may be applied topically in the injured area.

Most Popular Herb

The bark of the white willow tree is one of the most popular herbs used to treat herniated disc-related pain and discomfort. According to the Spine Universe website, willow has a similar chemical structure and function as aspirin, although it will not irritate your stomach. White willow, notes the Spine Universe website, helps to relieve acute back pain and reduces inflammation associated with disc problems. White willow bark has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and astringent action. The main active constituent in willow bark is called salicin. Do not take white willow products without your doctor's approval.


Herbal remedies can significantly alter physiological processes in your body, just like pharmaceutical drugs. If you are considering alternative therapies for your herniated disc problem, including herbal remedies, consider talking with your physician about proper procedures, risks and any likely drug interactions. Herbs such as white willow should be avoided if you have a bleeding disorder. Other herbs should be avoided if you are pregnant. A botanically-trained health care professional can offer you guidance and help you select the correct herb, or combination of herbs, for your condition.

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