Oh, My Aching Back

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Comfrey could provide relief for millions of people with back pain, scientists claim.

An ointment containing an extract of the turnip-like herb made pain all but disappear within five days, their study found.

Researchers studied 120 people with upper or lower back pain.

Half were given a comfrey ointment to rub on three times a day for five days, while the others received a dummy ointment. Neither group was told which they were using.

After five days, the amount of pain suffered by those using the dummy ointment had fallen by an average of 39 per cent, which researchers put down to them wanting to believe they were getting better.

But those treated with the comfrey ointment reported a fall of 95 per cent. Comfrey was also fast acting, getting to work after just an hour.

Back pain is the single biggest cause of sick days, and the NHS spends about half a billion pounds treating the problem each year.

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May 22, 2009