Is it any wonder everyone wants to get out of the hospital as soon as they’ve arrived? Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are dangerously common; new viruses surface with frightening regularity. Horror stories of Staph infections and amputations can make the hospital stay after surgery scarier than the procedure itself.
Post-surgery recovery can be another time of great concern. Did the staff sterilize the medical equipment carefully? Did they follow guidelines to prepare properly for the surgery? Even when medical staff follow procedures by the book, something as simple as your doctor’s necktie – which an Israeli study found to be an unknown source of contamination in hospitals – can derail your recovery.
Even if you decide to undergo surgery (and there are many surgical procedures that have been proven to be largely unjustified, such as coronary bypass surgery, so make your decision carefully), you can take steps to speed your recovery even before you go under the knife. Good nutrition and supplementation helps ensure that small wounds heal quickly. Healthy immune systems also protect you from infection. In addition, the following herbs and supplements are well known for helping the body heal more quickly following surgery or trauma.
• Zinc: Best taken prior to surgery, zinc reduces wound healing time, rapidly reduces wound size, and bolsters immune function to help ward off infection. Topical zinc, such as calamine lotion, also inhibits bacteria growth on the surface of skin, helping to prevent infection. As zinc deficiency is common in the United States, most doctors recommend 30 mg/day, taken orally for four to six weeks, to bring your levels up to par before surgery. If you undergo surgery in a zinc deficient state, your recovery time will be lengthened, so be sure to test and supplement your zinc levels, if necessary, well before any planned surgical procedures.
A good resource for getting a comprehensive blood test that may help highlight nutritional deficiencies is the Life Extension Foundation (www.LEF.org)
• Vitamin C: Another important component for full post-operative recovery is vitamin C. According to the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, levels of this vital compound actually drop in burn victims, post-op patients, and other victims of physical trauma. The minimum required intake of vitamin C to maintain healthy bodily function is about 300mg to 1g per day following surgery or other procedures.
Vitamin C is required to make collagen, the connective tissue in the skin that helps healing and prevents blistering. Vitamin C strengthens scar tissue and also helps reduce tissue death after burns. It also helps to strengthen the immune system and fight off infection.
But don’t take processed, synthetic forms of the vitamin. Ascorbic acid is not the same thing as full-spectrum vitamin C. Get your vitamin C from nutritional supplements or superfoods made from plants. Good sources are rose hips and Pure Camu — a product from the Amazon Herb Company that’s made from camu camu berries (the highest natural source of vitamin C in the world). (See http://amazondreams.amazonherb.net/Pure_Camu_Solo.aspx )
The Amazon Herb Company also makes a high-grade Camu C Serum product that’s excellent for wound care. It’s positioned as a high-end skin care product, but many people use it directly on wounds to speed healing. See: http://amazondreams.amazonherb.net/Lluvia_CamuSerum.aspx
• Bromelain: An enzyme found in the stems of pineapples, bromelain is useful for reducing post-op swelling. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and boosts the immune system to reduce pain, bruising, tenderness, frostbite, and burns. It is a natural supplement that works the same way as Ibuprofen, the well-known over-the-counter drug. The only difference: bromelain will not harm your liver.
If you decide to take anti-inflammatory supplements following surgery, however, remember that inflammation is not always a bad thing. In fact, inflammation is your body’s way of bringing blood and nutrients to the area that needs healing. Conventional doctors tend to take the view that all inflammation is bad, but that’s an outmoded, limited view of the body’s adaptive response to trauma. Inflammation actually serves an important healing purpose, so don’t go crazy trying to eliminate it with drugs or supplements unless there is a strong medical reason for doing so (check with your doctor to determine what’s right for you).
A great rainforest herbal product that eases inflammation is Recovazon offered by the Amazon Herb Company. It eases inflammation and speeds injury recovery. I’ve personally used it to heal from sprains and bruises earned during gymnastics and martial arts.
• Chlorella: Japanese studies have found Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) to be especially effective in speeding up cell growth, a major factor in the natural repair of wounds. Various other studies reveal CGF helps heal ulcers and promote bone and muscle growth. When taken internally, it also acts as an immune-booster. Topically, it functions as a protective cleansing compound for skin.
Chlorella is found in numerous superfood products, including Rejuvenate! from Health Products Distributors, Inc. at http://www.IntegratedHealth.com
You can also find chlorella in a variety of superfood products at any health food store. Chlorella varies widely in quality. One of the best brands of chlorella is Yaeyama (from Japan).
• Gotu kola: This herb has been used for centuries in Asia as natural medicine. Gotu kola – also called marsh penny, Indian pennywort, and British pennywort – helps in the treatment of scars and wounds with infections that have not yet reached the bone. The herb can be used both internally and externally while components of gotu kola have been shown to increase levels of antioxidants and help repair connective tissues.
For more information on herbs and supplements that help heal wounds, visit SupplementReference.com and its sister sites. You’ll find information on supplements and herbs that can help with wound healing, immune function, inflammation and much more.
Always ask your naturopath or physician about which herbs or supplements may work best with your particular health circumstances. Avoid processed hospital junk food and eat fresh, healthy foods that are rich in natural plant fats, full-spectrum nutrients and trace minerals. (Buy organic.) Olive oil is excellent for easing inflammation following surgery.
Stay positive and relaxed, and let nature run its course. Remember: Your body is a self-healing system. It knows how to repair itself. All you have to do is give it the proper nutrition, relaxation and good circulation.
Also worth noting
Silica helps heal skin, ligaments, tendons and other tissues. Get a high-grade liquid form of silica from www.Eidon.com
Sunlight accelerates wound healing quite dramatically, probably by producing vitamin D in the skin. Patients who are exposed to sunlight heal far faster than those who are not.
Phototherapy can also help wounds heal quickly. Various phototherapy devices use infrared LED lights to bathe the wound in healing light. The cellular DNA responds by speeding up the repair process.
Avoid junk food during the healing process, especially processed fats such as hydrogenated oils and homogenized milk fats. They interfere with healthy cell wall construction.
Colloidal silver can be used topically to prevent infections. It works better than antibiotics and offers no opportunity for bacteria to build up resistance. Some people take colloidal silver internally as a replacement for antibiotics (that topic is a whole article).
Acupuncture can help speed wound recovery. Needling the tissues near the wound can boost local circulation and help eliminate scar tissue