Injuries such as sprains and strains often result in pain, swelling, bruising, inflammation, reduced range of motion, and downtime from activity. There’s also a psychological impact that occurs with injuries. An individual can experience the very same symptoms when recovering from surgery, along with the possibility of stitches and potential side effects from anesthesia.
Healing injuries and recovering from surgery can take weeks and in some cases several months. The good news is there are several drug-free natural remedies to ease pain, reduce inflammation and heal injuries faster than expected.
Cold Therapy. Icing, cold-water massage, ice baths and cryotherapy are inexpensive methods to reduce swelling, inflammation and relieve pain. Hippocrates, a Greek philosopher and physician known as ‘the father of medicine’ wrote about the benefits of cold therapy to manage pain and swelling in the 4th century B.C. The Roman physician Galen described the use of cold compresses for analgesia following soft tissue injuries in the 1st century A.D.
Mindfulness meditation and mindful breathing have been shown in clinical trials to reduce chronic pain by 57%. Accomplished meditators can reduce chronic pain by over 90%. [Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. June 2016]
Another study found evidence that mindfulness-based interventions such as meditation, yoga, and stress reduction lower the perception of pain, increase mobility and improve functioning. [Asian Journal of Psychiatry. Feb 2018.]
Calm your nervous system. This encourages healing and recovery by stopping the fight or flight reactions such as increased cortisol, tense muscles, lowered levels of dopamine and serotonin, and inhibition of digestion. As you recover from an injury, remember what it’s like to feel healthy in the area that was injured. The human body has an amazing capacity to rejuvenate and your brain can either hamper its progress or help it.
Use the power of your mind to visualize recovery and healing.
Music or sound therapy. A study in the journal American Journal of Orthopedics found that music therapy decreased pain and sped up recovery time in patients recovering from surgery.
Calm, slow, gentle music (Solfeggio frequencies, classical music, binaural beats, singing bowls) was shown to produce the most positive results and facilitate relaxation and pain reduction.
Studies suggest that music can impact multiple neural networks simultaneously and can assist with rebuilding connections between various regions of the brain. Studies also show that the brain releases dopamine while people listen to music.
Use food as medicine. Anti-inflammatory, organic foods play a vital role in healing, relief from pain, and will encourage faster healing and tissue repair. Turmeric, ginger, cherries, berries, pineapple, leafy greens, plants, herbs, spices, vegetables, olive oil and coconut oil.
Protein is essential to repairing damaged tissue. While you’re healing, you’ll want to take in more protein than usual. Grass-fed whey protein, plant-based-non-GMO protein, collagen peptides, homemade chicken soup, eggs, grass-fed pasture-raised organic meat, wild fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.
Ginger water or ginger tea relieves post-op nausea from anesthesia, reduces inflammation and aids digestion.
Manuka honey and raw honey have anti-microbial properties that rapidly clear infection, reduce inflammation and promote healing for mild burns, sunburns, or small wounds.
Many of the most common go-to OTC pain relievers such as NSAIDs come with some very harmful side effects. Instead, opt for safer, effective and more natural alternatives.
Proteolytic enzymes (papain, bromelain, trypsin, chymotrypsin, serrapeptase) are my #1 go-to for acute injuries. Taken on an empty stomach, proteolytic enzymes are highly effective to reduce systemic inflammation, swelling, bruising and pain, accelerate healing for acute injuries, tissue damage, post-operative swelling, and inhibiting platelet aggregation.
Proteolytic enzymes can reduce healing time by as much as 50 percent!
Arnica is a must-have for any home medicine cabinet, office, first aid kit and while traveling. When used immediately after an injury, arnica reduces bruising, swelling, pain, muscle soreness, and accelerates healing time. Arnica gel, cream or oil can be applied topically to the skin and massaged into the affected area.
Arnica can also be taken orally as a sublingual pellet. Take arnica before and after surgical procedures (general or dental), childbirth, over-exertion, and psychological and emotional trauma (feeling emotionally battered, beaten or bruised).
Calendula is great for sprained muscles or bruises and reducing the pain and swelling associated with musculoskeletal injuries. Topical application of calendula helps speed up healing of mild burns, cuts, scraps and wounds, reduces inflammation, and alleviates insect bites.
St. John’s Wort has many benefits beyond antidepression properties and emotional support. It is also used to help relieve physical tension and pain. Topical St. John’s Wort such as oils or tinctures are used for the treatment minor wounds and burns, bruises, contusions, muscle strains, scrapes and more.
St. John’s Wort can be used as a go-to for painful issues such as neuralgias, sciatica, Bell’s palsy, head and spine trauma, pinched nerves, after surgical and dental work, as well as injuries to any area that is rich in nerve endings [Winston, 2007; LaLuzerne, 2013; McIntyre, 1996].
Magnesium. Transdermal magnesium results in faster regeneration of injured tissue while reducing pain and inflammation.
Aloe vera gel accelerates the healing of burns, cuts and wounds by stopping pain and reducing inflammation
Essential oils: lavender, peppermint, frankincense, clove, galbanum and vetiver are beneficial oil for reducing pain, swelling and inflammation.
Colloidal silver has potent antimicrobial properties making it useful for cuts, scrapes and other topical wounds.
Witch hazel is a mild astringent that works to soothe skin irritation, itching, and burns. Witch hazel helps to repair broken skin making it safe to use on cuts and scrapes.
L-glutamine powder taken on an empty stomach boosts immune function, promotes healing and reduces risk of infection in post-surgical patients. Physical trauma, illness, injury, and major surgery can increase the body’s need for glutamine above and beyond what can be synthesized internally. Glutamine supplementation is beneficial for those who need extra support for protein re-synthesis, tissue repair and regeneration.
Activated charcoal and bentonite clay help bind toxins from anesthesia and excrete them through the stool. Charcoal and clay are helpful as a natural remedy in the event of food poisoning too.
Probiotics are important for immunity, GI health and optimizing the microbiome especially if you’re required to take antibiotics for any surgical procedure.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric has been used as a medicinal food for thousands of years. Curcumin is most commonly found in curry powder, but research has shown that supplementation of 500mg twice daily can reduce swelling, tenderness and inflammation.
Omega-3 fish oil. Research has shown that consuming 2-3 grams of omega-3 fish oil daily can positively influence bio-markers of inflammation in the body.
Vitamin C speeds the healing of wounds, strengthens collagen and tissue, and supports the adrenal glands.
Zinc is an important mineral to support strong immunity, repair damaged tissue and stimulate wound healing
Self-myofascial release using a foam roller is a simple and inexpensive preventative tool to reduce risk of injuries, keep tissue healthy and breakup tight fascial knots.
Alternative therapies can restore movement and range of motion, improve the quality of the body’s tissue, accelerate healing, and increase strength in weak muscles. Consider acupuncture, chiropractic, PRP injections, hyperbaric chamber, prolotherapy, cold laser therapy, massage and physical therapy to heal injuries faster.
Sunshine, sleep, nature, rest, breathing, prayer, gratitude and a positive attitude are free. These are critical components to healing injuries faster.
Looking for a personal recovery program? I’d love to help you via a personal one-on-one telehealth-telemedicine consultation.