Getting “alternative” with nerve pain: Could herbal treatments be a source of relief?

McMaster Optimal Aging Portal
Description / Summary

It is estimated that over 7 million Canadians aged 15 or older suffer from chronic pain. This translates into 1 in 4 people living with this invisible and often debilitating condition that reduces their quality of life. Neuropathic pain, more simply referred to as nerve pain, is one type of pain that contributes to these case numbers. Nerve pain is caused by damage to the nerves. Damage can stem from a variety of injuries, conditions, and diseases—such as diabetes, a bout of shingles, and brain injuries.

Unfortunately, for those experiencing the tingling, burning, and stabbing sensations that accompany a nerve pain diagnosis, relief is not easy to come by. Despite the availability of numerous drug-based treatment options—including medications such as opioids, anti-seizure drugs, and antidepressants—it is reported that partial pain relief is only successfully attained by 40% to 60% of people. These lackluster results, coupled with the side effects associated with medication use, help us to better understand why people living with nerve pain often look to complementary and alternative strategies. One such strategy is herbal treatments.