Here’s the good news: There’s an easy-to-find and inexpensive solution to back and knee pain. And it has no side effects, so you have nothing to lose by trying it except a few dollars.
One study found that this topical treatment for arthritis pain not only works — it works quickly. It reduced back pain in just one hour. Another study found that it reduced back pain in five days by 95%. In fact, the longer the participants used it, the better the results.
This simple, inexpensive solution to pain is a common herb: comfrey root.
This is one herb with a lot of science behind it. For example, one double-blind randomized study looked at the effects of rubbing an ointment containing a comfrey root extract on the knees. The participants applied the ointment three times a day for three weeks. The researchers found that it significantly reduced pain and stiffness in chronic pain patients.
Another study found that applying an ointment containing comfrey extract on the back just as often had similar results for back pain.
In the past, studies compared comfrey root to anti-inflammatory creams. Comfrey root out-performed its pharmaceutical counterparts.
You may have heard warnings about comfrey in the past. For good reason. When taken orally, comfrey root contains a chemical that is toxic to the liver. It has even caused cancer in laboratory animals. But when you use it topically, it’s safe.
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Comfrey has a long history of medicinal benefits with topical application. Healers originally called it “bone knit.” They would use it in a poultice to help fractures heal more quickly. They also used it for muscle pain and swelling. Feel free to use it topically for chronic pain or acute pain, as well as for bumps and bruises.
In fact, use it topically for any pain instead of reaching for an analgesic medication. It can reduce pain at least as well — and it doesn’t have side effects like liver toxicity and gastric bleeding. You can find comfrey root ointment at most health food stores and on the Internet.
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Dr. Janet Zand
First Br J Sports Med 2009; doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2009.058677