PLANTS WEREN’T INVENTED FOR OUR ILLNESSES
so there’s no “herb for” our problems.
Plants are individual little chemical beings, just like us, and so we all interact with them differently. For proof, look no further than all the different reactions and tolerances people have to coffee.
Having said that, plants can fall into broad categories, and one of those categories are things that can help us heal and recover from injury and inflammation.
Injury is just that- damage caused by outside forces, that can be a short sharp shock, or something worn down by chronic misuse.
The really short version of inflammation is that when there’s injury, roving construction crews notice it and send out the alarm for help, which descends on the site “ants on a cupcake” style. All these “construction ants” do the repair work, while the body ups things like circulation so fresh crews get delivered and the waste like damaged cells gets washed to the dumpsters/lymph nodes- this is where lymph swelling comes from, btw.
🌼 help prevent infection of open wounds, decreasing the immune system’s workload
🌼 decrease pain
🌼 cool a site when swelling gets too much
🌼 increase lymph flow when it’s not getting out of a site and things are getting crowded
🌼 normalize the inflammation response when it needs to increase or decrease but isn’t
🌼 support the healing of specific tissues like nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue, or gut lining
Now, I’d like to make it clear here that I’m talking about the kinds of injuries you’d commonly have no problem dealing with yourself. If it’s anything outside of your comfort zone, SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP.
So how, exactly, can herbs help your feet and pelvic floor (and everything else) heal? There’s a couple of specific herbs to tell you about, and a couple of common combos you’ll find at health food or herb shops.
Let’s take your feet as an example. You’ve been listening to this Paula person online, and you’re using your feet more, getting more texture in your walking surfaces, turning them to parallel several times a day, and things are getting a bit uncomfortable. Maybe your feet are tired and a little tender, maybe your hips and knees are getting used in new ways and are a little sore.
Another specific is Solomon’s Seal. It’s less common, but I mention it because it does such a wonderful job helping your connective tissues heal, which is normally very hard to do. Topically you can use it as an oil based remedy to rub in, and it’s also a delicious tincture to take internally. Both work well, separately or together.
Arnica and Solomon’s Seal are first to my mind as specifics when we’re talking injury, but it’s probably more common and accessible to talk about the products you’ll find pretty much everywhere someone is selling herbal remedies. You can absolutely make your own remedies, but when you’re first starting out, and if you find yourself in a pinch without your usual stash, a general healing salve made by most herbalists are great to keep on hand.
Any shop with herbal remedies that‘s worth its salt will have jars or tins of some kind of “healing salve”. This is a blend of oils infused with herbs like Calendula, Plantain, St John’s Wort, Comfrey, etc, that’s had something hard like beeswax added to it so it stays put. These are great things to rub on a boo-boo- not only will the herbs help speed the healing, but the rubbing action helps circulation which is good too. So long as a wound isn’t actively bleeding or weeping or obviously needing professional care, a healing salve can be your go-to initial remedy.
Next to the healing salves should be muscle rubs, which are very similar but have ingredients like Cayenne, Ginger, or Menthol. Massaging them into sore muscles or inflamed areas brings the same benefits as healing salves, these are just designed to penetrate more deeply and bring circulation to sore muscles.
On the topic of inflammation, there's SO MUCH to say! Don't get overwhelmed by how much information is available out there. Here's my Rules of Thumbs:
- Inflammation isn't always bad- it's the process your body uses to heal, so in some capacity it's very necessary
- Inflammation often goes overboard and that's usually not your body's fault, but during the overboard process it's also not the time to debate particulars!
- Inflammation will be caused by an injury, and can also be exacerbated by the healing. Treating it like it's its own isolated problem misses out on root causes.
- When it goes overboard my go-to's are Turmeric (either as supplements or as food- you can sprinkle Turmeric on or in soooo many things, and Golden Milk is fabulous) and Quercetin (also as supplements or as food; it's a component of all the alliums like Onions and Garlic)
- When you're deciding between putting heat or ice on an injury, go with your gut instinct. Heat will increase circulation and can speed healing, but swelling restricts that same circulation. Ice will reduce swelling and deaden nerve endings to ease pain and discomfort, but it will also restrict circulation and slow down healing. Use what feels right to you.
This is the quick and dirty list of First Steps to working with herbal remedies to help heal injuries and inflammation. There's lots more that can (and has been and will be) said! But when find yourself in the first throes of injury, these are my suggestions.