Sticks and stones may break my bones… Or a shopping cart. That’s right folks, my first broken bone is from hyperextending a finger when it was caught in the holiday rush. I’m trying to embrace the awkwardness that is a splint on my dominant hand and research all of the things I can be doing to promote fast and full healing, aside from physical therapy and care from my orthopedist “the hand guy.” I am lucky that I don’t need a lifestyle makeover, this just involves a boost in daily practices to reduce inflammation.
Nutritionally what I want to accomplish is healing tissue. So, vitamin C (Bruise easily? You’re probably deficient), selenium, vitamin A, vitamin E, and zinc are important. These are all wound healing and antioxidant effects. Magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium play a role in bone health and muscle development. Remember, you want therapeutic dosages which are substantially higher than the RDA you are used to, and there are differing opinions on dosages. For example- Phyllis A. Balch, CNC recommends 5,000 to 20,000 mg. of vitamin C daily to help with injury repair; Michael Murray N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno N.D. recommend 500- 1,000mg of vitamin C 1-3 times daily to help with injury repair. Consult a health care professional/reference you trust. I’ll list some of my favorite references (Seriously, when I get researching I am lost behind a stack of books; and I still want more…) at the end. An alkaline body environment promotes healing so limiting acid creating foods like coffee, sugar, dairy products, alcohol, and vinegar should be minimized or avoided. Let’s be honest though, if obsessing over alkaline foods is a chore for you, you will stress and fail. Instead, focus on eating more alkaline foods in your meals and keeping easy snacks around that follow the rules. When you make a choice to eat something acid forming enjoy it, don’t beat yourself up, and if you are up for it have some apple cider vinegar or lemon water to promote a return to balance. Opinions are mixed concerning apple cider vinegar or lemon water being health promoting but people have been doing it for a long time seeing results (folk medicine!) and while there aren’t any clinical trials I can find supporting the practices they certainly aren’t harmful.
Curcumin has shown remarkable efficacy in clinical trials with respect to reducing inflammation, along with a host of other great anti-cancer and body-healing properties. Turmeric poultices are one option, as well as a supplement with bioperine (black pepper extract) for optimal absorption. (I make a turmeric face mask too for reduction in age spots, and dark circles. Plus, glowing skin. Just add some turmeric powder to yogurt or milk (cow, goat, or coconut) and smear it on!)
MSM, chondroitin sulfate, and glucosamine sulfate are essential for healthy joints and the synovial fluid that keeps things nice and cushy around them (You may recognize this combination from many arthritis preparations.)
Luckily, I haven’t needed much pain relief but chamomile, hops, milk thistle, st. john’s wort, valerian, are all present in various tea blends I consume regularly and have nervine and inflammation reducing properties, which help reduce pain. For an added medicinal boost, you can use a tincture (bonus for making it yourself)
The classic folk herbalist Juliette de Bairacli Levy has a classic muscle or joint rub that I find helpful everyday as a quick rub on overworked feet or shoulders (bonus points if you have someone to do the massaging!) and also injured areas: “Steep a heaped teaspoon of powdered seaweed and one teaspoon of cayenne pepper in hot apple cider vinegar, add six drops oil of pine.”
Healing Earth Vermont Herbals makes my favorite muscle/joint rub. Someday, I will make my own, but until I do this has everything I want to see included: st. johns wort, comfrey, cayenne, devil’s claw, bladderwrack, angelica, wild yam, horsetail, mustard, ginger, benzoin, Vitamin E, and essential oils of lavender. rosemary, sweet marjoram, eucalyptus, black pepper, cajeput, and myrrh.
Moon Valley Organics also makes a dang fine muscle rub that I can purchase locally with organic arnica, organic cayenne, organic habanero, organic safflower Herb, organic ginger, organic lobelia, organic clove oil & orange essential oils, and natural vitamin E made from sunflowers.
I love muscle rubs. They fill in for the fact that I always want/need a massage and facilitate relaxation and further benefit to stretches. They also make life less painful when I’m not stretching as much as I should. (Come on self, 10 minutes a day, it isn’t hard.)
Don’t go break a leg now, but happy healing if you do.