Podcast 112: Working With Herbs For Chronic Pain

Pain is complex. Many factors can contribute to pain, or worsen it, including the food we eat, the sleep we do or don’t get, and the stresses we experience in our lives. When pain is chronic, we need to think outside the “painkiller” box and think more broadly. This is also the best method of working with herbs for chronic pain conditions. Herbs with anti-inflammatory effects might achieve this by nourishing, improving digestion or circulation, or supporting specific needs in a particular body. To choose the right one for the person in front of you, you need to know their whole context – more than “where does it hurt?”

Moreover, from the perspective of your cells, pain itself is not a single state with a single cause. A sprained wrist may involve tissue swelling, stagnation of fluids, nerve impingement, and of course, inflammation. Awash in this complex context of states, the nerve sends a pain signal to the brain. If all we do is “kill the pain” at the nerve, without correcting any of those other states, the pain will come back as soon as the herb wears off! Instead, we can combine analgesic or anodyne herbs with others that address stagnation, tension, and agitation; addressing both the superficial symptoms and the fundamental causes at once.

All that and more, in this episode!

Herbs discussed include: cayenne, goldenrod, kava, ginger, chamomile, tulsi, kelp, meadowsweet, willow, alder, birch, wild lettuce, passionflower, Jamaican dogwood, clove, & ghost pipe.

As you can see, so much of your success when working with herbs for chronic pain effectively depends on your familiarity with a diverse array of herbs to help you target the specific tissues and states contributing to the pain. So you’ve got to really know your herbs – and our Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course can help with that! It includes 89 video plant profiles, along with printable monographs and quizzes to check your learning. Plus, you get access to our twice-weekly live Q&A sessions so you can get direct contact with Ryn & Katja. Dive in and get to know these herbs personally!

Materia Medica

As always, please subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen, so others can find it more easily. Thank you!!

Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.


Episode Transcript

Katja (00:00:01):
Hi, I’m Katja.

Ryn (00:00:15):
And I’m Ryn.

Katja (00:00:16):
And we’re here at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ryn (00:00:20):
And on the internet everywhere thanks to the power of the podcasts every week.

Katja (00:00:28):
So these last couple of weeks we have been working on the online video course for the nervous system and emotional health. And I’m super excited about it. This is a course that we’ve been teaching for 10 years and it is getting a major overhaul for the filming. And I‘m just so excited about the new material that’s in there and so excited about basically everything. I think this is going to be my favorite one.

Ryn (00:01:01):
Yeah. It’s going to be good. So we wanted to incorporate a little bit of that material into today’s episode because, we’re going to have an extended discussion about pain in that course longer than today’s podcast.

Katja (00:01:13):
Much, but you know, working with pain, with herbs, often we think, Oh, this pain is really big. I need something really big.

Ryn (00:01:25):
Well, so often it’s like, yeah, well I love herbs, but you know, this is a serious pain and now I need to get some drugs. Which I understand, I mean like, okay,

Katja (00:01:35):
Well I think that part of that is that managing pain with herbs is doable, but it’s not simple. Like there’s many moving parts. And so it’s not the sort of thing that gets taught very frequently. It’s one of the things that kind of gets glossed over. Like, Oh, if Jamaican Dogwood doesn’t work, then you’re just going to need something chemical.

Ryn (00:02:02):
These are the herbs for pain. And it’s often discussed, or maybe just just to say that we have an inclination to think of pain as a thing separate from a lot of other states or conditions or issues. And it really doesn’t stand apart.

Katja (00:02:20):
No. It’s all intertwined.

Ryn (00:02:23):
But again, this like so many things in the way that we think about health is really strongly shaped by the kinds of pharmaceutical medications that we all grew up with being widely available. And so you’ve got a whole category of things called painkillers. And you start to learn like, Oh that’s what we do about pain. And it becomes its own category. And it’s like, yeah, you can have a heartburn and then pain. And you can have a headache, and that’s a kind of pain. And you can have an achy back, and there’s some damage to your joints and whatever. But you’ve got pain going on and you apply that same remedy to all of those conditions. And so you start to abstract the pain away from…

Katja (00:03:00):
Like turn the pain off. I need something that will turn the pain off. I actually, for those of you listening, just like stop it here, and rewind, and listen to that again. Because I think that’s one of the most important things, not just about how we think about pain, but actually how we think about all sorts of issues, and how we think about them as herbalists. That we were raised in this culture. Almost all of us were raised in this culture where the way that we think about health and the human body is completely shaped by pharmaceuticals. Even if we don’t realize that. And so when we think about pain, our immediate thought is, I need to turn this off. And as herbalists, like we’re not thinking that at all.

Ryn (00:03:48):
Yeah. And it may even be you’re like, okay, I recognize that this pain is coming from an imbalance. It’s coming from a disorder. It’s coming from an injury and those things need to be healed or resolved. But you are going to be inclined to think of those as separate processes. Like stopping the pain is one thing. Healing the problem is another. And our argument in this episode is going to be that they’re not different things, especially when the agents you’re working with are herbs. And extra, especially when they are gentle herbs. Because, let’s be clear, there are really powerful herbs out there in the world that can kill pain and that can operate in that kind of a way.

Katja (00:04:24):
I mean, that’s where morphine comes from.

Ryn (00:04:26):
Right? Yeah. Opium poppy for sure. Aconite in some situations is going to act that way. So there are extremely powerful plants out there. Our particular way of practicing as herbalists doesn’t tend to rely on them very frequently. And so we do have good success working with herbs for chronic pain. But it’s not like choose the herb that kills the pain and then find the herbs that solve the problem. It’s find the herbs that resolve the underlying issue and that will make the pain go away.

Katja (00:04:56):
Yeah. And do that in a synergistic way, because sometimes the underlying issue is very complicated. And so when we are addressing all the parts of it, when we look at well, why is this pain a thing? And then we say, well, okay, how do I unravel that? How do I resolve that? The resolving of it makes the pain go away instead of just killing the pain.

Ryn (00:05:20):
Yeah. Well this is a good time to remind you all of our little reclaimer that we are not doctors. We are in fact herbalists and holistic health educators.

Katja (00:05:29):
The ideas discussed in this podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses herbalists in the United States. So these discussions are for educational purposes only. Everybody’s body is different. So the things that we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you. But we hope that they’ll give you some good information to think about and to research further.

Ryn (00:05:50):
And we want to remind you that good health is your own personal responsibility. The final decision when considering any course of therapy, whether it’s discussed on the internet by your friendly neighborhood herbalist, or prescribed by your friendly neighborhood physician, that decision is always yours.

Katja (00:06:06):
Every time that we read that, by the end of it, I’m like, we should do a whole podcast just talking about that and nothing else. Like those sentences and all this stuff that’s in it.

Ryn (00:06:16):
I’m pretty sure we did.

Katja (00:06:16):
I don’t think we ever did. I think I’ve said this before, but I’m not sure that we’ve ever actually…I’ll have to look because I still think it, every time we say it. There’s so much in that.

Pain is Not One Thing

Ryn (00:06:28):
All right. Well, coming back to today’s topic, right. So pain is not one thing. Pain is complex. And this is true even from a 10,000 foot view. If we look at chronic pain in particular, so often that’s tied to systemic inflammation or unresolved inflammation. And boy do we know a lot about inflammation these days. And we know that a lot of things can induce it or exacerbate it or pour gasoline on it metaphorically. And that’s really common things. That’s like an undiagnosed food sensitivity. That’s like being sedentary, like having insomnia, like being stressed, like feeling depressed can increase your experience of pain.

Katja (00:07:16):
Oh. And because we are talking about that nervous system and emotional health course, that is also one of the things that I’ve been spending a lot of time working on. There is so much new information right now just coming out in the last few years about the interconnectivity of depression and inflammation and how spiral it is, right?

Ryn (00:07:40):
Because you can get from one to the other and back again.

Katja (00:07:42):
Right. The inflammation can create a state of depression and then that can worsen the inflammation and then that worsens the depression. And I think that, you know, as with pain, but when we think about mental health issues, we tend to isolate them and okay, well this is just my mental health issue and I need to take care of it. As a society, we don’t tend to give validity to things like how is food impacting what I’m feeling right now? And once I know how that impact is happening, then what do I choose to do about it? Because those don’t need to be the same thing. Before anybody, like, you know, you can’t go down a road of guilt or shame with that. Like having the data doesn’t mandate your action, it just gives you the data. And sometimes that is enough actually. But anyway, that’s sort of a little tangent there. The other thing that I wanted to mention was that when we were talking about that our culture looks at pain as something that we need to shut down. And our culture does the same thing with inflammation right now. It’s like when we see inflammation, we just say, Oh, we need to shut that down. And so we have these NSAIDs, these nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs that if there’s inflammation in the body, shut it down. And the funny thing is that so many of those are for the purpose of being painkillers. So it’s like even pharmaceutically we’re seeing these connections, but we don’t acknowledge them so much in daily life. But that connection is super important because when you understand inflammation in the body, and understand all the different ways that you can exacerbate inflammation in the body, suddenly you have so many tools to work with.

Ryn (00:09:36):
Yeah, true. So, that’s true at that level of thinking about the person’s whole context there, their whole life and trying to say, all right, where are the places that you’re not getting what you need in the realms of food and sleep and movement and stress management or stress resilience. But pain is also complex. Each time that there is a pain that you could point to or that you can name, you know, my headache, my elbow pain, my whatever it is. Because it’s not, in the vast majority of cases, it’s not simply that the nerve is saying pain, pain, pain and firing that signal up into your brain. It’s that there’s going to be some inflammation present. There can be swelling, there can be constriction in the tissue, there can be stagnant fluids there, causing a bunch of pressure on the nerve. The nerve itself could be impinged or blocked in some way. There could be spasms that are happening in the tissue and the muscle and the nerve. So, especially as herbalists, each of those should be making you think of a given category of plants, right? You can be thinking of anti-inflammatory plants, plants to relieve tension, plants to quell spasms, to disperse fluids. Plants to encourage circulation in a given tissue, right, which could accomplish all of those things once you get the blood moving again. And so this is really why when we think about working with pain, the idea of an herbal painkiller is not our major focus, right? That’s not like our Shangri-La goal here is to find the best herbal painkiller.

Katja (00:11:15):
It’s not the Holy grail.

Ryn (00:11:19):
If that were true, then Hey, maybe we would all be done as herbalists now that we’ve discovered Kratom. Oh man, that was a joke. Don’t freak out, Lady Bird.

Katja (00:11:25):
Oh, don’t even, please don’t.

Ryn (00:11:29):
But you know, turning off the nerve signal for the pain doesn’t mean that you’ve corrected the underlying states there. Right? The, the swelling, the stagnation, the impingement, the whatever. That’s why you’re getting the pain signal. That’s why that’s being triggered there.

Katja (00:11:45):
This is also why it’s so important that you ground your study of herbalism in herbal energetics. Because if you aren’t thinking that way, then you will see someone in pain and you will say, Oh no, this person’s in pain. I need an herb to stop their pain. And if you’re thinking in terms of herbal energetics, and instead what you say is this person’s in pain, what do I see going on? Oh, I see swelling. Oh, I see constriction. Oh, I see a lot of redness, so that’s inflammation. Oh, I see that there is a lot of stagnant fluid here in this area where there’s a lot of swelling. And now instead of just Googling for herbs for pain. And getting some herbs back, which may or may not make any sense for the situation that you’re working with. Instead you can say, okay, what I need here is an herb to move these fluids, an herb to relax the muscles in the area so that fluids can flow better, an herb to address the inflammation. And then maybe also an herb that’s going to quiet down the central nervous system a little bit just to take the edge off so that the person is more comfortable. There’s no problem with that. But if all you’re looking for is herbs for pain with little quotey marks there, then then you’re just going to get those central nervous system sedatives. And that’s not going to do anything for the pain state itself.

Ryn (00:13:21):
Right. Yeah. And look, it’s nice to be able to relieve pain. Sometimes it’s very necessary to relieve pain for somebody and get through a tough situation. Right? But it’s just not the end of the story. So, now we’ve named a whole bunch of different factors in the context of a person’s whole life, and now in the context of this specific pain point for them. And anytime that we see a lot of different causes and factors influencing a situation, there can be a tendency to throw up your hands and say this is too big to fix. Like I don’t know what to do about it.

Pain Complexity Provides Multiple Entry Points

Katja (00:13:56):
Oh man. But you know, actually when it’s too big to fix, that’s the perfect time. Because it’s like when you start to see that this is a really big problem. Instead of feeling like, Holy cow, there’s no place I can get any traction. I feel really excited because what’s really going on there is like, wow, I have so many points of entry. I have so many places where I can dig into this problem and what if three of those places are not available to me because of whatever reason. I don’t have that thing or I can’t do that in this period of time. Or this person is not willing to change their diet and reduce inflammation in that manner, whatever. It doesn’t matter because the problem is so big that even if these three areas that I might have wanted to address are not available for whatever reason, there’s these 10 areas over here where I can get a foothold and get something going. I don’t know. So I get really excited when the problem is big.

Ryn (00:14:53):
Yeah. This is a response that we try to teach our students to adopt whenever a problem looks complicated, or is revealed to be more complicated than it seemed previously. Because those complications are, like you say, their entry points.

Katja (00:15:07):
Yeah. Every single one is an opportunity to get started.

Ryn (00:15:12):
So in this case that means that we can think about all of our favorite rational lifestyle changes to the four pillars of good health. We can think about moving more. We can think about sleeping better. We can think about reducing stress, we can think about changing our diet to reduce inflammatory triggers and all of those things that we talk about every single week on this podcast. Because that’s what we do. That’s what we do.

Katja (00:15:33):
And also, I think that’s so relevant here because so much of pain today is chronic. Obviously if you have an acute pain situation because you just cut yourself slicing your bagel or whatever, then changing your diet isn’t going to fix the pain from cutting yourself right now in this moment. Okay, but today chronic pain is really what we deal with so much more in that one moment. Okay, we’ve got herbs that we can deal with for that one moment. And besides the pain is going to go away in a little bit anyway. But as soon as we start to talk about pain that is going to last for a while, whether it’s from an injury, like you broke your leg, or whether it’s from a chronic inflammatory state or some sort of chronic disease like fibromyalgia, or an injury that’s super persistent. Like you hurt your back and now it’s 10 years later and it still hurts or whatever.

Ryn (00:16:31):
I was never the same after, you know.

Katja (00:16:33):
Yeah, exactly. Then that’s where those aspects from the four pillars — when we say the four pillars, we’re talking about food, sleep, movement and stress. But that is something that we talk about in a free course that you can find on our website, Commonwealthherbs.com, called the Four Keys to Holistic Herbalism and, that is a chapter in there about those four pillars. So, that’s a thing that you can check out if you’re interested in it for free, to go into those ideas about what could we do to be making changes in food? What would specifically impact inflammation for example? Or why is it important that we sleep more during an inflammatory episode or whatever?

There is No Pain Without the Brain

Ryn (00:17:30):
So, yeah, all of those things are helpful, but when it comes to chronic pain, a number of other interventions have also been found to help. And it’s kind of interesting to consider them. Things like meditation, for instance, where a lot of that seems to be training your body, training your mind and your body to work together, to come closer together, to recognize that they’re already as close together as you could actually get.

Katja (00:17:54):
They actually are.

Ryn (00:17:56):
But this changes the way that you interpret the signals that are coming from your nerves and coming up into your brain. And that not all of them are going to register as high intensity pain all of the time. That you can teach yourself to interpret that communication differently. And so your experience is that you feel the pain reduce, you feel the experience reduce.

Katja (00:18:20):
Yeah. You know, that part is key too because a friend of ours, Tammy Sweet, she’s an Herbalist in New York, she loves to say there’s no pain without the brain. And I’m pretty sure I’m not just imagining this, but I’m pretty sure in a conversation we had once she followed that with, so if you just cut your head off then it would be fine. You wouldn’t feel any pain. I may just be attributing that to her and it might’ve just popped into my head. But anyway, there’s no pain without the brain. Right? And so, yes, whatever damage has happened is real, but it doesn’t hurt until it gets to the brain and your brain interprets the signal and says, huh, that’s a problem. And that I think, that right there is why meditation can be so effective. They have a gillion studies, and there was one I was looking at the other day that was referenced by Robert Sapolsky in a book that I am reading right now called Behave. And he was talking about that they had this big collection of researchers that he was involved with. And also this big collection of Buddhist monks who were like master meditators or whatever. And so they would sit. The monks would sit there and meditate to study pain and to study the effect of meditation on pain and the monks. I would love to have been there to like just interview everyone involved, because the monk’s perspective on what was going on was of course really different than the scientist’s perspective on what was going on, even though everything was being observed the same way. And he reports it as he’s talking about it in the book, like several humorous anecdotes about the monk’s perspective on what they were doing. Of course, they were voluntarily there for this study, for the purpose of seeing can we show with brainwaves what’s going on in the body when we meditate and also feel pain. But they just had a totally different perspective about like, Oh, well it’s just a kindness to my body if I reframe this. It was humorous is what I’m saying. Yeah. But there’s a bucket of studies on meditation and pain management.

Ryn (00:20:47):
And similarly with something like acupuncture, that’s, that’s one of those things that pretty much everybody agrees now that yes, acupuncture really can help with chronic pain experience. Or even simply being exposed to warmth can increase endorphins, your internal painkillers, which really isn’t even the right way to describe what an endorphin does. Beause again, it’s about changing your internal context, your internal set of responses to the stimulus in question.

Katja (00:21:17):
And then also warmth is way more complicated than just endorphins to you, because when you are exposed to warmth, you are stimulating circulation and you are relaxing the muscles. And so there’s a lot going on there in addition. The response is complex.

Ryn (00:21:38):
Right. And one of the things that we’ve also both found very interesting is the idea that if you’ve got pain somewhere, say you crunched up your hand and now your knuckles are all crushed and whatever, and it hurts a lot over here. Being touched right along that arm or just having your back rubbed or your shoulders or your neck or something. That touch, that contact, that can kind of, one way to say it is, it distracts your brain from registering the pain signal as strongly. And so that reduces your experience of the pain.

Katja (00:22:12):
So there’s an anatomical explanation for that, which is that different parts of the pathway of a nerve transmit different items. And the pathway for the transmission of pain is smaller than the pathway for the transmission of touch. And so, and I think that probably needs to be because otherwise we wouldn’t feel a fly if it landed on us. We need to have a lot of space to be able to transmit something is touching me, because like if one single hair is on your arm, you feel it. Right?

Ryn (00:22:50):
And by the same token, you wouldn’t want to have that degree of reactivity to contact that was interpreted as pain.

Katja (00:22:57):
Right. Like just self protectively you want that to be smaller. And so, like any person who has seen a child in pain or anybody in pain, our natural inclination is to go rub their shoulder and say Oh, it’ll be okay. But it’s the rubbing the shoulder part that is the key here. And it’s so funny that that is our instinctive response. And also that response is literally because you are stimulating the sense of touch in those nerves’ pathways, it’s overriding the pain transmission. So the touch transmission is louder in your brain then the pain is and that’s amazing. That’s amazing.

Ryn (00:23:49):
Yeah. It’s pretty cool. So, lots of different ways that we can work to change the inner context and the way that you’re experiencing that stimulus. And then of course herbs themselves are going to be our focus here, because they can address a lot of these disordered states that are contributing to the pain in the first place.

Katja (00:24:06):
And even sometimes the disordered state is in the nerves themselves, because for some people that transmission of touch signal can be misinterpreted by the brain as pain. And so that’s another place where we can make headway with herbs.

Energetics and Pain

Ryn (00:24:29):
So the first thing, like you were saying earlier about energetics, is that when pain is chronic, especially, it’s really essential to sort out your energetic states and patterns pretty clearly, right? Hot versus cold, dry versus damp, tense versus lax. And we’re going to need to adjust our herb formula, or the kind of herbs that we choose here, to match those things. So first here we’re looking at the overall person’s constitution. Because again, with chronic pain, it’s a matter of your state, consistently over time.

Katja (00:25:01):
Well, and to give an example here, when you feel pain, you run dry, and when you feel pain, it tends to be like a dehydration kind of pain. It’s like stuff dries out so much that it becomes really tight and inflexible. Whereas I run damp. And when I feel pain, it tends to be like a dull, like the pain of a bruise. Even if there is no bruise. It could be anywhere. But in general, it could even be a headache, but it’s like a bruise to me. Like it’s a watery kind of pain. It’s a cold, damp kind of pain. I rarely get those stabby sharp, hot, dry, ice pick kind of pain, because that’s not what’s going on in my body. Now, if I cut myself, that is a stabby sharp pain, because you have in fact just stabby sharped yourself. But constitutionally, if my body is saying, Hey, there’s pain, the type of pain that I am most likely to experience is that cold, dull, throbbing. It might be intense, but it’s going to be intense, like the base in a really big speaker, you know?

Ryn (00:26:13):
Yeah. Right. So yeah, there are these, these patterns to pain that’s primarily driven by one or another of those states. So, like you were saying with hot pains, those tend to be sharp and stabbing, but also localized. So two people can say I’ve got a headache. And one of them can say, yeah, like right here, there’s like this pathway right through there, and it’s just, that’s the place, right? Right in this one spot. Really sharp, really localized. And then somebody else can say, I’ve got a headache. And they just gesture to their entire head. It’s like, it’s up here

Katja (00:26:46):
Or like a whole region, like the whole front part, or the whole back part.

Ryn (00:26:50):
Yeah. And often throbbing is a term that’s used for that. So that’s a cold type. And you can also look at what else is going on aside from the pain too, right? If the person says they have a headache, and their faces all red and flushed and it’s overstimulated. And maybe they’re a little agitated. Those are all heat signs. They’re speaking in that direction. But if they’re looking paler than usual, if they’re sluggish, if there’s depression, slow down, you know.

Katja (00:27:16):
You have a headache and you just want to put all the blankets on top of you and disappear.

Ryn (00:27:21):
Yeah, cold pattern.

Katja (00:27:21):
And by the way, this is why if you Google herbs for headache, 50% of the time they’re not going to work. You know, 50% of the time they might work, but 50% of the time they’re not. Because what you need to figure out before you Google is, or before you do whatever research you’re going to do, is what kind of headache is it? And to say it’s a migraine isn’t enough. Because there are many types of migraines. So that’s why I really like this way of figuring it out, because not everybody’s going to know the definition of every type of headache. And even if you did, Googling herbs for a cluster migraine is not necessarily going to get you reliable information. But if you think, all right, I have this hot, sharp, stabbing pain, what should I do about it? I guess I should cool that off. That is going to be so much more successful. And that continues because whatever kind of pain it is, we can go on the other axes too. So, I’m thinking about dampness and dryness, and dryness in particular here as dehydration. It’s so common to be dehydrated and have that alone be the cause of the headache. But you also can have a headache, and I’m just using headache as an example here because everybody has experienced that at some point, you can also have a damp headache where there’s just too much fluids and not enough lymphatic action. And just everything is sort of stagnant and stuck and full.

Ryn (00:28:59):
Yeah. There’s going to be swelling. There’s going to be that water retention. Maybe the tissue is puffy or spongy because there’s just extra fluid hanging around. And again, headache, or it could be anywhere in the body, but you’re seeing those signatures occurring at the same time as the pain. And you’re saying, all right, these are connected.

Katja (00:29:17):
Sometimes when there is swelling, you don’t see it. Right? Like if there’s too much fluid, you’re not going to see that necessarily as swelling in your head because you have a skull and it’s going to contain it. But there’s pressure. And that can be true anywhere in the body. Like you can have swelling, like swelling is too much fluid. Right? You could have that really internally. And you’re not going to see it. It’s not like you sprained your ankle and it’s swollen. But you feel the pressure. You just feel like there’s just too much in some area.

Ryn (00:29:56):
Yeah. Fullness is a good descriptive for that. Whereas with the dryness, like the dehydration, but also like tissues getting kind of sticky in a sense. Like you think of meat as it’s partially dry and it starts to kind of stick to itself. But dryness as a state, it can lead to that propensity for adhesion. And a lot of our body worker friends are thinking a lot about adhesions, whether it’s in the fascia layer or even in deeper tissues. That’s where things have kinda gotten stuck together and now it’s impinging movement and all of this. But so frequently that does come back to constitutional dryness. And if we can resolve that, then things can loosen up, they can separate, and now now you’re feeling a little bit more well, fluid, a little more flexible.

Katja (00:30:43):
And also, especially in that kind of a situation when you’re choosing your herbs, an herb that has moistening action may work much faster to relieve pain than an herb that has a painkilling action.

Ryn (00:30:58):
Right. And then sometimes you can also look at what makes the pain feel better. You know? So back to hot and cold pains, if you put a hot pack on it and the pain is relieved, well it probably had elements of cold or stuckness or stagnation to it.

Katja (00:31:13):
That’s such a lovely one too, because often you don’t know anything, because you hurt. But what you know is, I want to feel warmth or I want to feel cool.

Ryn (00:31:24):
Yeah. Give me a bag of frozen peas, put that on my head, and I’ll feel better.

Katja (00:31:27):
Right. You might not know any other thing, but you probably know if you want to put something hot on it or if you want to put something cold on it.

Ryn (00:31:35):
And then you can use that information to help you choose which herbs are gonna are going to make sense there. Similar with tense and lax. Sometimes you have pain and it’s really keeping you stuck in place and you can feel that there’s a tension component to it. Other times it may not be as obvious. But if you have the experience of, it’s like hard to get yourself moving, but if you do it, then you feel a lot better. That really speaks to that being driven by tension. With laxity, sometimes it’s more like, it’s hard for me to keep posture, Keep myself stacked and aligned and upright. But if I can do that and I can get into a place where things are aligned. And I’m distributing my weight evenly, or sitting in a good way. And all my muscles and organs are feeling nice and lined up, then that’s when I really feel good. That can be a sign that there was a problem of laxity, a problem of not holding things where they belong that was contributing to the pain. So, we’re using these signs to help us to figure out what’s the pattern of the pain so that we can find the right kind of herb for it. Yeah. So, um….

Katja (00:32:47):
That was one of those 12.5 minute pauses. Every 12.5 minutes, there’s like an “aaaaaah”. Time for some tea.


Ryn (00:33:00):
All right, well, so some relevant herbal actions here. Again, don’t take this as an exhaustive list because there are, like we say, there’s lots of things that can be driving that pain. But some of our favorites, of course, you can start with the analgesics, the anodynes. These two words basically mean the same thing.

Katja (00:33:18):
I mean, they kind of basically equate to painkiller.

Ryn (00:33:23):
They kind of do. Yeah.

Katja (00:33:23):
You know, you’ll find the salicylate containing herbs in this category like Meadowsweet and Wintergreen. So herbs that are closer to what we think of coming from our mainstream backgrounds.

Ryn (00:33:47):
Yeah. And you know, stronger nerve sedative herbs like Jamaican Dogwood, would also registering that in that sense too. You give a substantial dose of this kind of a plant and then you find pain relief in a pretty generalized sense. So yeah, like we said, this is an action that herbs can have, but so much really is bound up in the question of dose. And also in some cases, like the salicylate herbs, it also depends on the length of time that you take it.

Katja (00:34:16):
And how you take it.

Ryn (00:34:18):
Yeah. A single dose of Willow isn’t gonna do much for your pain of rheumatoid arthritis. But multiple doses of Willow every day for a week or two, that should have a substantial difference. So yeah, and there’s some other accompanying actions like anti-inflammatory that’s going to be relevant over and over again. And of course anti-inflammatory is its own complex because you can nourish a body and relieve inflammation. You can improve circulation and relieve inflammation. It can interfere with prostaglandin synthesis. So on multiple levels of like zoom in the body. You can intervene with herbs and you can knock down inflammatory processes.

Katja (00:35:01):
Yeah. Anytime that you see anti- whatever as an herbal category, that’s always a time to think, wait, there’s more going on here. And so there are many herbs that have very different actions that will do the end result job of reducing inflammation, but they do it in drastically different ways. And you can’t just grab any of them. They’re definitely not interchangeable. So that’s important to think about. I’m thinking about a burn. And you’re like, Oh, I need an anti-inflammatory herb. Then you Google anti-inflammatory herb, and Cayenne is at the top of the list. So you think, great, that seems weird, but I’ll trust the research. So it says Cayenne is anti-inflammatory. And then you are very sad because that will hurt quite a bit. Cayenne is anti-inflammatory because it causes topical irritation, which causes the body to flood the area with fresh blood. And if that’s what you needed, then the end result will be anti-inflammatory. For example, in a case of arthritis. But in a burn, that will not be the way to reduce the inflammation. You’ll really want something cooling instead.

Ryn (00:36:13):
Right. And Cayenne’s interesting because it’s that that hot circulatory stimulant, rubefacient, make the skin turn red kind of effect that leads to the relief from pain. There is also a pharmacological effect of Cayenne where if you keep applying it, then some of the constituents will… Okay, there’s a substance that your local nerves produce called substance P for pain. And so you get damage in one area, a bunch of substance P is release. That goes and attaches to the nerves there. And then they send the signal up to your brain that says, all right, let’s register some pain over here. All that said, if you keep applying Cayenne over a given area, then that too will stimulate the release of substance P in mild amounts. Like it doesn’t cause you to scream or anything when you put it on, but you do feel kind of a burn-y tingliness. Right? So some substance P is coming out. And if you keep applying Cayenne several times a day, you will use up all of the P that’s present right here until you aren’t making any more. And that can be really handy if you had some kind of inflammation underneath. Some kind of a pain underneath there. You can basically prevent that signal from getting up to your brain. But what I like about Cayenne is that it doesn’t only do that. If that was all it did, we probably, first of all never would’ve noticed. Beause why would I just keep putting something on if I don’t see a thing happen? But also it wouldn’t be as good, right? When Cayenne is applied, it depletes substance P. You can relieve the pain, but you move the blood, you get the fluids flowing, right? You stimulate those cells to wake up. You enhance their activity and their metabolism. And you resolve the underlying problem.

Katja (00:37:51):
You know, it’s funny because as humorous as I find the whole substance P situation. Because it just makes me laugh every time that it’s really called substance P for pain. That’s never the first thing I’m thinking about when I think about Cayenne. I’m always thinking about the circulatory stimulant action and like the substance P depletion effect is just a bonus to me. That’s just like, Oh great, that’s nice. But what I really need is to get the blood to the area, you know? This reminds me of, I can’t believe that we haven’t said this yet. However long we’ve been talking, and we haven’t said this yet, but pain serves a purpose in the body. Pain is a message to change your behavior. And so that is part of the reason why something like Cayenne can be so effective. Not because it is reducing substance P. That’s just a nice, Oh and Gee, here’s a cupcake to go along with it. Thanks. But not an actual cupcake, because that would cause more inflammation. But just some nice thing to go along with it. Like just, Oh, and as an extra bonus we’ll take away some of the pain. But it’s like what we need is a change in the behavior. And if what we’ve got is an area that is super dry and not getting enough blood nourishment and not getting enough of all the nutrients and lubrication that it needs. Then the way to change that behavior, even though that the word behavior there seems kind of misapplied, but it still is appropriate or we can even say state, is to do something that will cause fresh blood to come into the area. So yes, pain is a message to change your behavior.

Ryn (00:39:43):
So circulatory stimulants like Cayenne can make a lot of difference here. Lymphatic stimulants, cause again, so much of the pain that we see people in is coming from stagnant fluid.

Katja (00:39:52):
Yeah. Anytime that you see rheumatoid or rheumatic attached to any kind of pain state, that means there’s too much fluid. And the lymphatic system needs stimulation.

Nervines & Relaxants

Ryn (00:40:03):
Yeah. Get that flowing, drain that out. Nervine herbs. Okay. Yes, of course, many nervine herbs are sedative. And they slow down nerve activity. And they quiet the intensity of the signal that’s coming through. And we’ll talk about some gentle nervine sedatives and even some stronger ones that can quiet the signal of pain. And so that’s a pretty clear reason of why they relieve that. But nervines in a much broader sense are really important in chronic pain, because chronic pain is depressing. Because chronic pain sucks, and it’s uncomfortable, and it goes on for a long time. And so it’s easy to get defeated. And herbs that can lift your spirits, herbs that can boost your mood, herbs that can just be pleasant while you’re having a cup of tea…

Katja (00:40:50):
Just something pleasant. Yeah, exactly.

Ryn (00:40:54):
That counts for a lot. All right.

Katja (00:40:59):
You wanted to add relaxants into this list as well, which as a person who…so I had a spinal injury when I was in my twenties, when I was a competitive kickboxer. That’s a whole different story.

Ryn (00:41:15):
She contains multitudes..

Katja (00:41:19):
And so, I have a lot of residual pain from that situation. But, actually the biggest thing that causes pain is not the injury itself and any kind of residual effect from the injury. It is if I do something, like if I step off the curb wrong.

Ryn (00:41:47):
Or there was this one apartment, and there was a weird arrangement of doorways and countertops. And so going into the kitchen you were just like at the right height at the right angle to bonk your one hip into that countertop.

Katja (00:42:01):
And it was the hip too. It was the hip on the right side.

Ryn (00:42:06):
So you did that a lot in that apartment. And eventually you got used to it and you were like I just hit my hip. It’s okay. But the first few times it happened your whole back locked up.

Katja (00:42:18):
That’s the thing, that anytime something like that happens, the pain comes because my body suddenly spasms. Everything tenses up and that is a protection response. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just not necessary anymore. It’s like okay body, we don’t have to do that anymore because that pain is long over. But I still have that protection response that kicks in. And so for me, if my back is hurting, like nine times out of 10, what I really need is a muscle relaxant. I need something that will stop that spasming action and allow my whole body to say like, Oh actually we’re fine. Like that didn’t do what I thought it was going to do. And it’s amazing to me that the residual issues I have 20 some odd years later are much less actual structural issues than they are this learned response that is literally not a conscious response. I can consciously affect the response after the fact. But that initial response, that’s coming from the amygdala. That’s coming from that fight or flight place in the brain. I don’t know, you call it the lizard brain sometimes. But it is that primal protection response that’s happening. And it takes a minute for the rest of my brain to kick in and say, okay, actually we’re fine here. Actually this isn’t so much of a problem and it’s all right now for everybody to stand down. The problem is that once those muscles get locked up like that, it’s very difficult to relax the individual muscles. And man herbs are beautiful for that. And they’re beautiful at doing that. They are really good at it.

Ryn (00:44:08):
Yeah. Well, since we’re on the topic, one thing that we found really lovely is a massage oil with some Goldenrod infused oil and some Kava infused oil. Right. Nice and relaxing. And the Goldenrod there, really just as a delightfully warming herb, as a relaxant. It has those nice aromatic relaxers coming through there.

Katja (00:44:35):
Yeah. Really focused on that muscle relaxing, antispasmodic action.

Ryn (00:44:40):
Yeah. Soothing and releasing. And then Kava is a straight up analgesic. It definitely can numb pain if you get it right into contact with the nerves that are signaling the pain. And so that one is really, really fantastic for topical applications. Kava is very popular now for anxiety, and for when you’re feeling stressed out. And hey, if that’s an element of your pain syndrome, then absolutely take some Kava tincture by mouth too. But this kind of topical thing for especially tense pattern pains, it’s extremely effective. You can get a whole body relief of pain from Kava, but you need pretty substantial doses. And you’re going to get floppy if you take enough Kava to relieve pain. You’re going to be a puddle of mush.

Katja (00:45:38):
Yeah. Which might be perfect. But that’s definitely the kind of thing you want to do and then get in bed, you know? Definitely not a time to operate heavy machinery.

Anti-inflammatories +

Ryn (00:45:52):
Yeah. If you’re a frequent podcast listener, then there are some herbs that you probably notice we talk about more frequently than others. So if you think about Ginger, Chamomile, Tulsi, seaweeds. I think that almost every week we come back to these friends because they’re so multifactorial and so lovely. For our discussion that pain today, you could think of those as some wonderful overall anti-inflammatory herbs, each of them with distinct qualities, with distinct chemistry. But all of them, I’d say nearly universally appropriate for humans today. The ones that I run into, the ones that we work with, the students we teach, basically everybody could benefit from these four.

Katja (00:46:42):
You know, that’s why I am always so on about Ginger Chamomile tea. It’s the two most basic herbs for a person who doesn’t know anything about herbs. Those are two herbs they will know exist. They might not know how to work with them or what they can do, but they will know that they exist. And yet I find that in my own body, but also more broadly really across our culture right now, they are so appropriate to so many kinds of pain and discomfort, because we are, as a society, fairly sedentary, which means that things get stagnated and backed up and that contributes to pain. And ginger is going to really break through that and really stimulate the movement to clear out those blocks. And both Ginger and have really strong antispasmodic actions.

Katja (00:47:45):
So any kind of tenseness, any kind of spasming sorts of pain, they’re going to just relax that. Both of these plants also have really strong anti inflammatory action. And so to the extent that your pain is concurrent with an inflammatory state, you’re coming that down as well. And both of these herbs also calm the mind, calm your emotional state. And if you’re anything like me, once you start to feel some pain, your mind goes down the rat hole of like, Oh no, there’s a lot I need to do. I can’t be in pain right now. It’s gonna make it like, Oh, this pain is terrible. This is going to be like this for weeks and it’s going to hurt forever. And just getting your brain to stop and just get off that train is a big deal.

Ryn (00:48:42):
Because those thoughts intensify the experience. And I have this experience all the time that I’ll hurt myself somehow. And then I’ve learned that the first thing that I want to try to do is establish like, it’s not permanent damage, Ryn. Your ankle is going to be okay, you’re going to be able to run again in a couple of weeks, whatever it is. But if I can register that thoughtfully, then suddenly the pain is way less severe. You know, because of the worry, the Oh no, I really did it this time.

Katja (00:49:15):
Yeah. And especially for you where I think that you, you really depend on your body to be very responsive for you.

Ryn (00:49:26):
And I get really upset when I feel that’s taking over.

Katja (00:49:29):
You want to be able to jump on a Boulder at anytime. You don’t want anything that’s going to hold you back from that. And I think that’s such a deep part of who you are. And I think that’s true for a lot of people that like I don’t want to suddenly not be able to do the things that I’m accustomed to being able to do. Which is fair.

Ryn (00:49:49):
So a lot of this is making me think of Tulsi, also. Tulsi, you know, anti-stress herb. And you know what, yeah. It’s amazing for that. It’s just like these other ones. It’s a digestive, it’s a nervine. It’s adaptogenic in that it can help you to cope with stress more smoothly and more calmly, especially the longer you work with it. So, so much to say about Tulsi, and that’s why we bring it up every week. And then like seaweed too, right? So seaweed can matter in a bunch of different ways. Here, I’m thinking of general reduction of inflammation in your life. Eat seaweed. Eat it consistently. Have soup. Have broth. Get your seaweed that way. Make seaweed snacks, whatever you do. But they’re just such powerful nutritives and they can really restore a lot that’s lacking in the body. And that can help to relieve pain severity. It can help to just change the internal chemistry,

Katja (00:50:47):
you know, and across so many types of pain. Because for so many people, magnesium deficiency is a really big deal. And if we don’t have enough magnesium, then first of all that can lead to muscle cramping. But also, magnesium plays a huge role in turning off a nerve signal. And I’m kind of simplifying this, but when you’re nerve is saying, Hey, something’s going on, I need to send a message. Then once that message is sent, somebody needs to say, cool, we’re all set now. You did it. Good job, good job. And magnesium is intricately involved in that process. So especially if you are experiencing a kind of pain that’s superfluous, it’s like, Hey, we got the message. The behavior has been changed. This pain has served its purpose and it doesn’t need to be happening anymore. That very much could be an indication of a magnesium deficiency. And kelp or any of the seaweeds are super high in all of our minerals. And I’m drawing out magnesium here, but actually all of the nerve action has to do with minerals and the transmission of ionized minerals. And different minerals are employed in sending different types of messages. So making sure that you have everything that you need is going to make it a lot easier for the nerves to send the message correctly, and then to stop sending the message when they’re done with it. And we’ve seen that even topically.

Ryn (00:52:32):
I was going to just say, so, thinking about eating kelp, that’s like changing your entire internal soup.

Katja (00:52:39):
Yeah. And in the case of chronic pain, that’s key. That’s the key.

Ryn (00:52:47):
Especially these body-wide syndromes like Fibromyalgia. Yeah, absolutely. But that can also be relevant to a local issue. So if you can apply seaweed over a sprain or a strain. Or just like, this is my elbow that always hurts, because I used to play competitive tennis. OR I don’t know what your story is. You apply the seaweed right there and it’s providing nutrients. It’s providing building blocks that can be used just right there in that tissue where they’re most needed. And again, we found with some seaweeds, a surprising degree of pain reduction.

Katja (00:53:20):
Yeah. And I really think that does come right down to making the minerals that your nerves need to turn the signal back off again, available right there in that location. It’s amazing. Unprocessed Nori is my favorite for that. But if I don’t have that, any of the seaweeds I would go with. I remember when we first transitioned to a more barefoot lifestyle, and we walk barefoot mostly everywhere unless it’s too cold. And we wear barefoot shoes as well. And when we first started making that transition, we each broke a few toes, because you do have to learn to walk barefoot everywhere and you have to learn to use those muscles again. And you also have to learn how to deal with those muscles being tired. And then, when you’re wearing shoes all the time, you just sort of shuffle around and it doesn’t matter. And if you’re really tired and your feet are inaccurate, it doesn’t matter because you’re in shoes. And you stumble around and it doesn’t really hurt that much. But when you’re barefoot, that’s a problem. And so when we were first making that transition, we each broke a couple of toes actually. And putting seaweed on them, it was so fast and removed the pain so fast, but also helped them heal so fast. And it’s truly amazing. And you’re like, how can this be this effective? And yet it is this effective.


Ryn (00:55:09):
For sure. Yeah. So if you had Ginger and Chamomile and Tulsi and Kelp in your life, that would go a pretty long way towards changing that internal state. Let’s take a quick minute and talk about some more direct pain-relieving herbs here. So Meadowsweet is one that we think about frequently. And this would go together with some friends like Willow and Alder and Birch. And what these all have in common is that they contain salicylates. So if I’m not mistaken, we had a whole podcast episode about salicylates.

Katja (00:55:42):
I bet that you will find it and link it in the show notes.

Ryn (00:55:45):
I bet I will. But the short version is that the salicylates in the herbs, they act in a similar way to acetylsalicylic acid that are known as aspirin. Oh, enunciate. Yes, so what they can do is to cool and to block prostoglandins. And those are one of those chemical signals that says, Hey, tell the brain that there is some pain. And so they can block that from happening in places where it’s excessive. What’s really lovely about the salicylate-bearing herbs is that they don’t have the potential for causing ulcer or other kinds of irritation damage in the gastrointestinal tract the way that aspirin absolutely does. So that’s really cool. One thing I would say though about the salicylates is if you’re working with them for, especially chronic pain, then you need to take them consistently. I hinted at that earlier, but you’re going to want to have these herbs in your life in substantial doses. And it can be done in tea or in tincture, but we’re looking at multiple doses throughout the day, and for a consistent period of time. I’d say give it at least a couple of weeks before you give up on any of these herbs or their combinations. Because they can help a lot. It just takes a little while to get going.

Katja (00:57:05):
With these salicylate herbs, one thing to think about is that they’re not all the same. So going back to these energetic qualities, some of the salicylate herbs have a real drying effect. Willow is one. And so if there’s too much fluid and you need to dry some of it up, Willow is a really good choice. Some of them have a more lymphatic stimulant kind of quality, and they start to move circulation more. And I’m thinking here of Alder and Birch for that category. And then also remember that even though there are salicylates in these herbs, so they have that sort of pain relieving effect, or the pain killing effect, there’s other stuff going on. And meadowsweet is a great example here because it has so much anti inflammatory action. And inflammation resolving is a better way even to say that action, and that the way that it is addressing pain is multifold.

Hypnotics & Sedatives

Ryn (00:58:13):
Yeah. So that’s really a whole category kind of unto itself. We could also take a quick look at some herbs that relieve pain and also induce sleep. And our key herb here is going to be Wild Lettuce. Another one that we’ve spoken about occasionally on this pod, a few times, because it’s really become one that we find to be very helpful where there is pain, especially when the pain is inhibiting sleep. And these are so tightly tied because if you have, really any kind of pain, but part of the way it expresses is that you can’t get comfortable lying in bed. And it’s hard to find a easy way to rest, or it wakes you up multiple times at night. That really slows down your recovery. And it can be the thing that takes an injury and turns it into a chronic pain. So, Wild Lettuce is one that we find very, very helpful when you have pain and it makes it hard to sleep. The herb does make you sleepy. It is what we call a hypnotic. It’s an herb that can really make you feel tired even if you weren’t beforehand. But it’s extremely helpful to take that in the hour or so before bed And let that signal come in, turn everything down, wind your body down, release some tension, relieve some pain, and help you to sleep well. And then if we can keep that going as a pattern, and we can build that into your habits, then that should relieve your pain on a more consistent basis too. Yeah. All right. We had mentioned earlier sedative herbs and I had mentioned that you can take even a gentle sedative and you can get a pain-relieving effect if you take enough. So I was thinking there a lot of Passionflower in particular.

Katja (00:59:55):
I was thinking about that also in that sort of category of herbs that crossover between pain and needing to be able to sleep, and the pain inhibiting the ability to sleep.

Ryn (01:00:06):
Right. We turned to Passionflower a lot when there’s insomnia, and racing mind or stuck thoughts, which can be thoughts about the pain you’re having. Oh, I wish this would stop. Oh, I wish it would stop. But it’s the case with Passionflower, and to some extent with Skullcap and other gentle sedatives, that if you get a high enough dose, if you get it consistently enough through the day, it can start to cross over into anodyne territory where you’re relieving pain. And when we talk about high doses of something like Passionflower, Skullcap or even Chamomile for that matter, I’m thinking of multiple dropper fulls of tincture taken multiple times a day. Three times three, or four times five. Or something like that.

Katja (01:00:55):
More I’m thinking the four times five kind of direction, or even like two droppers full every hour. These are not, especially when we’re talking about Chamomile or Passionflower, they’re not herbs that have a kind of caution with them about, Oh no, don’t take too much. They are herbs that you can take plenty of. And really keeping it consistent is much more important than anything else.

Ryn (01:01:24):
Yeah, for sure. Okay. Well then there are stronger herbs that work in a similar way. So Im thinking now about Jamaican Dogwood. And Jamaican Dogwood primarily is acting as a nerve sedative. And because of that it can turn down the intensity of the signal that says pain. And with that one you won’t need as high doses, but the frequency is still going to be relevant. So, it’s a day and you really need to get some freedom from pain, maybe, so that you can go and take a walk.

Katja (01:01:54):
RIght, which ultimately would be good.

Ryn (01:01:56):
Then you are going to want to work with Jamaican Dogwood and space it out through the day, right. Take multiple doses of it to get the best effect.

Katja (01:02:08):
You know, Clove is sort of into a whole other category. And it’s much more like in that category with Kava, where it actually can numb an area. And not just like, okay, well we’re not transmitting pain anymore, but almost to the point like, we’re not transmitting anything anymore. This whole area is actually to the point of anesthetizing, like very mild. It’s not like actual anesthesia, but really more in that sort of topical…

Ryn (01:02:47):
Localized. So it’s not like take 10 droppers of Clove tincture and now you won’t feel pain anywhere. That doesn’t really work that way.

Katja (01:02:54):
No, but topically.

Ryn (01:02:54):
So clove is really, really helpful for dental pain.

Katja (01:02:59):
And has a long history of application in that way.

Ryn (01:03:03):
But I also do like to include Clove in linaments to be rubbed into areas where there’s pain, structural pain. And I think it makes a really big difference in relieving that.

Katja (01:03:15):
And just to bring it back, Clove also has anti-inflammatory action, also has circulatory stimulating action, also is really warming. So it’s got that relaxing antispasmodic action. All those things in addition to this ability to numb feeling.

Tincture Formulas for Day and Night

Ryn (01:03:38):
So last thing we just wanted to mention a couple of quick tincture formulas. And this would be again, a starting place, right? So this is to go along with analyzing your diet, analyzing your sleep patterns, and your movement habits, and the way that you experience stress. And which ones are optional and which ones aren’t. And what can be done to change the way you relate to them. So if you do all of that and also take this herbal tincture, then you should get some relief from pain. If you just take a squirt of this tincture once, please don’t write back to us and say your tincture doesn’t work. It’s in the context of holistic interventions.

Katja (01:04:09):
And consistent. That consistency. Absolutely. Before we kick it off, I also want to mention that there’s no magic in our formulas. We are always looking for actions. And then the herbs who can do those actions. And logical and interesting ways of combining them to get the synergy that we’re looking for. But I don’t want to give the impression that these are formulas that are set in stone. So if you were thinking, Oh, that sounds like a great formula, but I don’t have that one plant, you might have another plant who can do the same work. And so thinking always from the action perspective, if we wanted to work with ginger for its circulatory movement and its warming capabilities, and you didn’t have that, well Cayenne has circulatory movement and warming capabilities too, and might be appropriate in the situation that you’re working with. So always to think that these are not set in stone. You can substitute things in when you need to.

Ryn (01:05:22):
Yeah. So we have a daytime combo and a nighttime combo. And the idea is that they would compliment each other. So in the daytime we want to relieve pain, we want to encourage circulation. But we do want to keep some alertness, some awakeness going on. And so a simple combo could start with something like four parts Tulsi, two parts Meadowsweet, and one part Ginger. And so you can see that there we have most of the formula is this aromatic nervine adaptogen, right? The Tulsi is coming in to increase movement and circulation and flow in the body, to uplift, to raise your mind and to raise your spirits. And it has the adaptogenic effect of changing the hormonal response to stressors, including the experience of pain.

Katja (01:06:17):
Plus that mood boost, you know, which pain drags on you. So that part is not just like, Oh, great. Also that too. Yay. It’s like whew! I really needed that too.

Ryn (01:06:29):
Right. And then you get the Meadowsweet in there. There’s a salicylate bearing herb. And so that’s going to bring in that direct, inhibitory effect on the inflammatory process and get that into a more controlled range. But also Meadowsweet does help to drain stagnant fluids. And it does keep things moving in that regard, especially when we’ve got the Ginger in play too, because Ginger is really going to be good at stirring things up, warming, circulating, getting the blood flowing and relieving tensions.

Katja (01:07:01):
Yeah. That’s really sort of the overarching theme in this, is getting movement happening again so that you can move past the thing that’s hurting.

Ryn (01:07:15):
So, yeah, you would just combine those tinctures. And then we’re looking at two to four droppers full three to five times a day for this. And this really, again, is going to be about the consistency, right? You’ll feel different by the time that you need a refill, or to reformulate, you know. But you’re only going to feel different if you stick to your dosing schedule on this one.

Katja (01:07:35):
Yeah. These herbs are all very safe, so you could take more if that was appropriate for your body. That wouldn’t be a problem. If you were thinking, boy, this is just barely doing it, but if I take some every hour, then it’s easier for me to get through the day. That would be fine with these herbs. There’s no danger in that.

Ryn (01:07:56):
Yeah. I will say if you’re taking a blood thinning drug, then we would need to make some adjustments. And if that is the case, then I wouldn’t leap right into the full on dose schedule that we were just describing. It’s possible that it could work, but it would so much depend on your individual case, that we would need to have a private consultation to work through.

Katja (01:08:17):
Yeah. Blood thinning drugs are kind of like a monkey wrench. And it doesn’t mean that you can’t work with herbs. It just means that everything has to be re-evaluated.

Ryn (01:08:26):
Yeah. So that would be a problematic potential or drug interaction. If you have a habit of taking aspirin or some other kind of NSAID drug though, this combo here, Tulsi, Meadowsweet, and Ginger, can actually resolve some of the damage that that’s causing. And also ideally make it so that you don’t have to take that so frequently. So that would be, I guess not an interaction, but it would be a way of.

Katja (01:08:48):
Like a complement.

Ryn (01:08:48):
Yeah, for sure. All right. Well then for nighttime we have kind of different goals, right? Here we are trying to induce good sleep and to enable deep sleep. And so Wild Lettuce is going to take the forefront in this formula. We can add a blend that’s three parts Wild Lettuce, two parts Chamomile, one part Ginger, and then one more part. It can be Meadowsweet again. It could be Willow. It could be Alder or Birch. You’ve got options here.

Katja (01:09:17):
And Jamaican Dogwood would not be inappropriate in this.

New Speaker (01:09:19):
Actually. Yeah, that might be really nice. It might be even better. So the Wild Lettuce as a sedative, as a direct pain reliever, as a relaxant. For any elements of tension that are making it hard for you to sleep. And then the Chamomile in there, a nice relaxant, it’s got those aromatics, it’s going to help it to taste better. And again to relieve some of that digestive and mental tension, it’s really handy. Especially because a lot of people before bedtime, maybe you ate a little too close to bed. And a little like struggling digestion going on in there. So between the Chamomile and the Ginger, we’re going to get that moving again. And of course their complement of nice anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic influences that they have. And then, yeah, I think you’re right. Let’s go with Jamaican Dogwood in that last piece there. I think that really fits well with sleep.

Katja (01:10:13):
I mean the Meadowsweet is lovely. And also it depends on the kind of pain. I’m thinking about when I was getting braces and my mouth felt terrible because it was all chewed up from the braces. Then actually Meadowsweet is the one I would want in that situation, as opposed to Jamaican Dogwood. So maybe kind of make that decision based on what kind of pain you’re working with. But the pain of actual cuts, you know, like actual wounds, you might prefer the Meadowsweet.

Ryn (01:10:48):
Because Meadowsweet has that astringency too. And you know, by a similar token, I guess if you were looking at this and saying, yeah, that seems good, but I could use even more relaxant effect, then put in Kava in this place and really get that going. So play around a little bit with different elements in the formula. Always feel free to experiment. And like you said up top, our formulas are not in stone. They’re a place to start.

Katja (01:11:15):
Yeah. They’re a suggestion.

Ryn (01:11:18):
Yeah. So, you know, start with that. And start thinking broadly about what are the other patterns in your life that might need to change and how herbs can help you to do that. And we’d love to hear if any of these thoughts are helpful for you as you try to resolve chronic pain in your own life or the lives of people that are around you.

Katja (01:11:36):
Yes. Well, actually right after we wrap this up, we are going to film a video for our podcast supporters. If you are interested in becoming a supporter, we send a video out every week that’s fresh new content that is never before been seen. And this week what we’re sending out is we’re going to talk about our friend, Sam, who makes this amazing sprain and strain salve that is one of my favorite pain relieving, like,Ow, you pulled a muscle or whatever, kind of topical applications. And so we’re going to talk about that in the video right after this. Iif you are interested in becoming a supporter, you can find all of the archives of all the supporter videos that we’ve ever done before. Plus every week you’ll get a new one in your inbox. And you can check all of that out at commonwealthherbs.com/supporters.

Ryn (01:12:43):
Yeah, we do appreciate it.

Katja (01:12:48):
Yes. Thank you.

Ryn (01:12:49):
All right, let’s get some shout outs to cat in Seattle who loves to listen to the pod and was looking for help finding a clinical herbalist out that way.

Katja (01:12:58):
Yeah. And also Lauren who just joined the new Herbal Business Chapter group of the American Herbalist Guild on Facebook, which I’ve been chairing or whatever the word for that is. I’m the chapter leader for this group and I’m really excited about it.

Ryn (01:13:21):
If you’re on Facebook, you can type AHG business chapter

Katja (01:13:24):
herbal business chapter. Yeah. And if you are starting an herbal business or you’re thinking about starting an herbal business, or if you’ve been in business for a really long time, the purpose of the group is just to support one another. And you don’t have to be a member of the AHG to join the group. The AHG just sponsors it for the whole herbal community. So I think that’s really, really cool. And so Lauren joined and said that she loves to listen to the pod. And it’s just so much fun to hear from other business herbies. I love that.

Ryn (01:13:58):
Yeah, for sure. We got a shout out to Barbara who’s been listening to the pod and just signed up for the immune health course. She’s so excited and so are we, honestly.

Katja (01:14:07):
Yeah. The immune health course is really good. And it’s actually my favorite to date. But I’m pretty sure that the nervous system and emotional health course is going to be even more favorite. Yeah. I’m really excited about it.

Ryn (01:14:22):
All right. And then we have some shout outs to Mx. LB, Mx. Mitch B, and Pilar in Mexico who all wrote us reviews on Apple podcasts recently. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Katja (01:14:36):
All right, well, that is it for this week.

Ryn (01:14:40):
Yeah, that’s it for us. So, we’ll be back next week with a little bit more Holistic Herbalism podcast for you. Until then, take care of yourselves, take care of each other, drink some tea.

Katja (01:14:51):
Drink some tea.

Ryn (01:14:51):
And we’ll see you next week.

Katja (01:14:54):
Bye bye.


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