An effective “prescription” for PAIN (no drugs required!)

When I read this study, a giant light bulb—like what happens in cartoons—went off above my head.

It’s such a simple, yet vitally important concept, that I truly can’t imagine what would happen if people applied it more universally…

Especially towards those suffering with pain.

In fact, if doctors applied it, rather than relying on prescription drugs, perhaps it would move us away from the opioid crisis we are experiencing.

Being more mindful

I’m talking about empathy. More specifically, being more empathetic to those around us.

What an idea, right?

According to a new study, which of course was conducted in Europe, researchers found that when physicians showed empathy toward their patients, the sensation of pain decreased.

Researchers recruited 20 patients with chronic pain. Using functional MRI (fMRI) scans, they analyzed how a physicians’ demeaner influenced the subjects’ sensitivity to pain—and how it affected the central nervous system.

(The central nervous system is responsible for receiving, processing, and responding to stimuli, such as pain.)

Half of the subjects were subjected to pain stimuli while they were alone. The other half, while a doctor was present.

Ultimately, the patients who were alone reported greater pain than those who were in the presence of a doctor… even though they were subjected to the same level of pain!

Not only that, but when the patient spoke to the doctor prior to their fMRI, they also felt the physician truly understood their pain. Therefore, they believed their doctor was better able to estimate their level of pain.

This lit up all kinds of regions in the brain known to react to pain.

In other words, simply connecting with one’s treating physician could make all the difference on those pain scales.

Bedside manner matters

Now, when I was training to be a physician, bedside manner was already going by the wayside. So, I can only imagine what it’s like in the real world—outside of my office. (I have heard many horror stories.)

Thankfully for me, I realized how important the patient-doctor bond is pretty early in my journey. Because let’s face it… most people go to the doctor when they aren’t well. And when you aren’t feeling like yourself, people often feel afraid and vulnerable.

That’s why it’s so important for me to make sure I interact with my patients in a way that helps calm some of those non-medical issues, too.

Sadly, this empathetic attitude and communication gets lost—as many doctors simply run out of time. After all, corporate America has made healthcare a money-making business… not a people business!

If you’re struggling to connect with your current primary care physician, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns. If they’re not willing to fill your cup, so to speak, it may be time to move on.

You might also consider finding a holistic practitioner in your area—or at the very least, one who practices complementary medicine, like I do.

The American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) is a great resource. All you have to do is plug your zip code into their search engine at, and their exhaustive database will do the rest of the legwork for you.


“Functional MRI Shows That Empathetic Remarks Reduce Pain.” Medscape, 07/19/2023. (