How To Relieve Aches & Pains Naturally — The Right Way
Ever have a muscle injury that was slow to heal? Achy joints? Back pain, neck strain, sore muscles, or overly tired feet?
Recurring pain—whatever that looks like for you—can feel like a constant reminder that you're not functioning at 100%. And if you've ever experienced it, you've probably thought, there's gotta be a better way to treat this than popping painkiller after painkiller.
Stocking up on ibuprofen has become a pretty standard solution for minimizing pain, but the way integrative medicine practitioners see it, we're missing one major thing. When you're experiencing any kind of recurring physical pain, chances are your sleep, mood, energy, and movement are all taking a hit. Pain affects your whole body, so shouldn't your treatment do the same?
A more gentle but effective way to treat pain.
According to integrative medicine expert Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., who's spent three decades helping patients relieve chronic pain naturally and holistically, "the conventional approach to pain has been very simplistic. [With ibuprofen,] we're just blocking a pathway that leads to inflammation, but this doesn't work long term for chronic pain, and it can be wrought with side effects. Plants offer another opportunity to address everywhere pain hurts—sleep, mood, energy—as well as the inflammation and pain itself. It's often a more gentle yet effective way."
Low Dog's talking about the herbs and botanicals that have a long, deep history of providing pain relief. (Case in point: Aspirin came from a plant called willow bark, thanks to its pain-reducing effects.) "Life was hard 500 years ago," she says. "Everything was manual, and people had a lot of wear and tear on their joints. We have a rich pharmacopoeia of plants that people have used for hundreds and hundreds of years for pain. But we've forgotten about it because we've pushed prescriptions and we've had easy access to over-the-counter meds."
Low Dog and her team of integrative medicine doctors have developed a solution for pain and recovery that finally takes that holistic approach we've been missing. Rightful's AM + PM Liquid Formula is a daytime and nighttime formula with eight of the most powerful, scientifically backed natural ingredients for fighting pain and all of its effects. "As clinicians, we would recommend something to help with energy in the morning and something to promote sleep at night," says Low Dog, "so that's the foundation for this approach."
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Since pain is a byproduct of inflammation, the AM + PM Liquid Formula includes the anti-inflammatory power players of the plant world like turmeric and broad-spectrum hemp extract—all in the specific doses clinically proven for efficacy and bioavailable forms for better absorption. The formula also includes corydalis, one of the most common plants used for pain relief in traditional Chinese medicine, and adaptogens rhodiola for fighting fatigue in the morning and ashwagandha for better sleep and relaxation at night. Another ingredient that helps alleviate restlessness and promote sleep is California poppy, a plant Low Dog has used with her patients in practice for 30 years.
To be clear, "we're fortunate to have prescription medications for severe, debilitating types of pain," explains Low Dog. "With Rightful, we're talking about the millions of people who live with joint pain, musculoskeletal pain, back pain, neck pain, and muscle tenderness."
Regardless of your type of pain, Low Dog adds that a natural approach to pain relief involves more than just a plant-based remedy alone. "There's a lot that goes into the art of healing to help someone who's been dealing with pain for a while—plants are just one part of it."
Here are three things Low Dog keeps top of mind with her patients for treating pain:
- An anti-inflammatory diet. For Low Dog, that means a diet that's not loaded with refined carbohydrates and sugar and usually looks like a Mediterranean diet. Healing the gut is an often-overlooked part of long-term pain relief, but research is showing a strong connection between gut health and pain. "A lot of people think that pain has nothing to do with their stomach," Low Dog says, "but we can further aggravate our pain by not addressing our gut, our microbiota, and the gut's permeability."
- Manual medicine. Aka, hands-on therapy1 like gentle stretching and acupuncture. "I'm a big believer in acupuncture for pain," says Low Dog, who also recommends hydrotherapy (think nice, warm baths) and topicals for instant pain relief.
- A mindful practice, like meditation. Start using your mind to help with pain, or as Low Dog says, to "reframe your pain." (She suggests an app like Headspace or Calm to help.) The mind-body connection is powerful when it comes to relieving pain because of one simple fact: "Pain is the most placebo-responsive condition there is," she says. "Think of the placebo as the power of your mind—when you believe that you're doing or taking something that will make you feel better, your mind can literally help your pain get better. Don't underestimate that power."
Krista Soriano is the Senior Branded Content Editor at mindbodygreen. She holds a B.A. in journalism with a minor in communications from Messiah College, graduating summa cum laude. She has written and edited lifestyle content for over 15 magazines and websites, including ELLE, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Runner’s World, and DuJour. At mbg, Soriano helps our partners—which include non-profits and Fortune 500 companies—tell their stories, covering everything from the future of regenerative agriculture, ethical banking, and the endocannabinoid system. She lives in New York.