Like touching an exposed electrical socket, the sensation of a sciatic nerve flare-up can be shocking, which is why we have some tips on using TCM for sciatic nerve support. If you’ve never had a flare-up, hopefully you’ll never experience it. But if you’re wondering what it feels like, most people would describe it as intense and radiating.
A flare-up most often starts in the lower back. This makes sense considering the two sciatic nerves—the largest nerves in the human body—originate in the lower lumbar spine.
From the lower back, the sensation can migrate, following along the track of the sciatic nerve to the piriformis muscle in the buttocks, and from there, radiating all the way down near the hamstrings. The sensation can be felt all the way into the foot, and when it does, every single step you take can be excruciating.
Causes Of Sciatic Nerve Flare-Up In Western Medicine & TCM
In the West, prolonged sitting, especially on un-ergonomic chairs and couches, coupled with lack of stretching and other sedentary habits are major factors.
If you have osteoporosis or osteoarthritis, the sciatic nerve may become impinged. In addition, a flare-up can be the result of a slipped or herniated disk. Roughly 40% of people in the U.S. will experience at least one flare-up during their lifetime.
Like any other health concern, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views a sciatic flare-up as an obstruction of the channels. You can think of this obstruction as total gridlock on the freeway.
TCM views a sciatic flare-up as an obstruction of the channels. You can think of this obstruction as total gridlock on the freeway.
Specifically, the type of obstruction pattern that sciatic nerve flare-ups falls under is called “Bi Syndrome.”
Bi Syndrome results in an accumulation of stagnant Qi and Blood. The root causes described above can certainly result in Qi and Blood stagnation.
However, Bi Syndrome, according to TCM theory has other culprits, namely external factors such as cold, wind and dampness. When the body’s organ systems (theoretical organs of TCM) are in balance, cold, wind and dampness are repelled by the body.
Any slight imbalance, however, can mean that these “external evils” can penetrate deep into the body, causing obstruction, which can manifest as numbness, tingling, soreness, etc.
If the sciatic nerve becomes impinged, it could result in the urge to frequently urinate, or, it could result in having trouble urinating. What’s interesting about this is that in TCM theory, the sciatic nerve—which if you’ll recall, runs down the back of the leg—travels along the Urinary Bladder channel.
Using TCM To Support Normal Sciatic Nerve Function
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs seem to be an effective combination to mitigate symptoms. For the former, a review of several studies published in Neuropsychiatry concluded, “Numerous observational studies have revealed therapeutic benefits of acupuncture in treatment, highlighting the strategy of concentrating on the [bladder] and [gallbladder] meridians. (In one of the studies, there was a 94% improvement after only four treatments.)
As for traditional Chinese herbs, the theory goes that in order to lessen the severity of symptoms, specific warming herbs must be used as well as those that remove dampness from the body.
Other actions of a successful traditional Chinese medicine is the clearing of Blood and Qi obstruction, relaxing the muscles and strengthening the tendons and bones.
As for this last action, strengthening the tendons and bones, recall from above that one root cause of a flare-up, according to Western medicine, is the loss of bone density (osteoporosis or osteoarthritis). The organ system that governs bone and tissue strength in TCM is the Kidney. Therefore, the best TCM formula for sciatic nerve function will also contain herbs that tonify the Kidneys.
Best Formula in TCM for Sciatic Nerve support
Sciaticlear is our 11-herb formula that meets all these criteria. It’s best suited for cold-damp type Bi Syndrome. If you’re not sure if your flare-up is caused by cold-damp type Bi Syndrome, you have two options: visit an acupuncturist or just give Sciaticlear a try. ActiveHerb.com offers a 30-day guarantee.