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A post shared thousands of times in several French-speaking African countries suggests that a potion made from rice milk, garlic and honey is capable of curing sciatica pain. This is false, according to rheumatologists contacted by AFP, who explain that this remedy posted on Facebook has no scientific basis and that it is necessary to quickly consult a doctor in case of sciatica, to avoid aggravation.
This post, shared more than 33,000 times since it was posted on a Cameroonian page in 2018, has since been re-broadcast in various health-focused Facebook groups (1, 2, 3).
According to the author of the text, here are the ingredients to gather to make the remedy: “a cup of rice milk (or almond milk), 5 cloves of garlic and honey“.
To get the potion, the author continues, “wash and peel the garlic cloves, then crush them in a blender to obtain a puree. You can do the same by crushing them with a mortar or pestle. Now add the rice milk and honey and mix everything well“.
The recommended dose in this recipe is to consume the puree throughout the day to not only relieve sciatic pain but also strengthen the “immune system“The potion is also supposed to help.”in case of colds, flu, asthma, fatty liver and cough“This remedy.”it will also cleanse your arteries of cholesterol and prevent a variety of cardiovascular problems“, still assures the text.
The publication registers more than 2,000 comments, between thanks but also questions about the rice milk mentioned in the recipe.
Despite the enthusiasm of some Internet users for this remedy “miracle“, rheumatologists contacted by AFP explain that it has no ability to cure sciatic pain.
“If it is certain that tendinous-muscular or bone inflammation can be accentuated by the intake of pro-inflammatory foods (such as cow’s milk, gluten, fats, etc.), in no case can the supposed ‘recipe’, published on Facebook, ‘cure’ sciatica, because it has no scientific basis“, explains Catherine Wiart, an algologist and director of a center dedicated to the treatment of pain at the Fondation Adolphe de Rothschild Hospital in Paris.
Professor Jérôme Avouac, from the rheumatology department of the Cochin Hospital in Paris, specifies that “it is possible to cure sciatic pain, especially acute forms of lumbosciatica“but not with this recipe on Facebook”that has no scientific basis“.
“Medications such as analgesics (levels 1 to 3) and anti-inflammatories, spinal corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, and sometimes spinal surgery are recognized and approved treatments for sciatic pain.“, adds Jérôme Avouac.
Dangers of unproven remedies
“Sciatica is a neuropathic pain that, in most cases, is due to irritation of the L4-L5 or L5-S1 nerves, often in relation to a foraminal disc herniation or a flare of posterior interapophyseal osteoarthritis.“.
These pains are very acute and should be examined by a doctor who will perform a complete neurological clinical examination to look for any risk of complications and the source of the irritation. By quickly consulting a doctor, it is possible to cure and avoid severe forms of sciatica that may require surgery, specialists insist.
“Cooking recipes like the one posted on Facebook that claim to cure sciatica pain remind us that medicine is not practiced on social media. Taking these untested and scientifically proven substances or remedies can lead to kidney failure.“, warns Professor François Rannou.
Taking any medication against a sciatica attack should be done under the supervision of the treating physician to avoid any risk related to toxicity and possible side effects of analgesics and anti-inflammatories, François Rannou further recommends.