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Posts Tagged ‘bone’

Remember that scene in Forrest Gump where the mean boys are chasing Forrest and Jenny is there yelling, “Run, Forrest! Run!” Yeah, I remember it well.  Why? Because, once upon a time, I had an older brother and sister standing on the other side of the yard yelling, “Run, Tam! Run to me!”.

They thought they were really funny.

No, I didn’t have big metal braces like Forrest, but I did have to wear corrective shoes. I was very pigeon-toed and I couldn’t run more than a few steps without tripping over my feet and landing face first in the dirt, at which point my older siblings would roll on the ground laughing at me. It is a very disturbing memory, but that is another issue…

Eventually, I no longer had to wear the corrective shoes, but my ankles never grew quite right. They have, for as long as I can remember, been weak and prone to sprains. A simple misstep would result in a painful roll, followed by swelling and pain for a couple of days. I could always rotate my ankles and hear/feel a popping. Most noticeable, though, was when my legs were at rest, both of my feet would naturally fall inward at an almost right angle. Keeping them straight was a very uncomfortable effort.

So, it was no surprise when I stepped off the 4-wheeler and landed wrong, rolling my ankle and hearing a series of cracks and pops. As I lay there on the ground trying to keep the blackness and pain at bay, I just kept telling myself, “Breathe. The pain will fade any second…”

Yeah, not so much.

This time around, I had really done it. I tried to deny that it was anything more than a sprain. It is, after all, gardening season around the farm. I absolutely do not have time for a broken ankle. My ankle didn’t get the message, though.  By the end of the day it looked like this:

Swollen ankle Day 1

That was on July 23. Everyone was kind of freaking out and letting me know that it was probably broken and I should at least go see a doctor.

You all know how that worked out, right? Of course, I was not going to the doctor. I really have very few people left in my life that are willing to argue any medical points with me, but there are one or two willing to broach the subject. Both of them asked me the same question…”Why not just go have an x-ray so you know for sure?”  The answer was quite simple.

It seemed silly to waste hours in a germ/disease-filled doctor’s office so he could send me to have an x-ray taken, thereby exposing myself to radiation, only to be told that, yes, it is fractured/broken. The doctor would then offer me some preventative antibiotics and a round of pain pills, cast it, and tell me to come back in a few weeks to do it all again.  There are numerous problems in this scenario.

First, a hospital or doctor’s office is the best place in the universe to pick up some seriously nasty illnesses. Not to mention the hours wasted sitting and waiting for your turn with a doctor who is uninterested in the anonymous patient sitting in front of them.

Second, radiation exposure is ALWAYS a risky thing to do. Yes, x-rays are sometimes necessary, but this was obviously not a messy break. The ankle was straight, I could put weight on it, I still had full range of motion…and, even if it was broken I wouldn’t have let them reset it. I will explain why in a second. Needless to say, I didn’t feel that an x-ray could tell me anything I didn’t already know. Plus, as someone with moderate thyroid issues, any extra radiation exposure would have more dangerous consequences for me.

Third, ‘preventative antibiotics’ is a term that makes me cringe and laugh all at the same time. Preventative antibiotics for me is a good diet, an herbal supplement and general clean living. I spend my life in the search for a safer, healthier way of life for my family and me, which includes ways to keep our natural Immune System in good working order. This includes eliminating things like toxic cleaning and beauty supplies, eating organically-grown foods, avoiding processed foods, getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine. I am operating on the firm belief that my Immune System is operating at a perfectly capable level. Should an infection develop, I know how to fix that without prescription antibiotics, so what is the point?

Fourth, I am unbelievably claustrophobic. No, seriously. You can’t imagine. So, the thought of being in a cast gives me a case of the heebie-jeebies like you wouldn’t believe. Yeah, I know…whatever. I was NOT going to have a cast put on. Besides, that would have prevented me from being able to get at the break with my poultices and salves. Nope. Not gonna happen.

And, finally, the pain pills. Do you really want to even get me started? I never, under any circumstances, for any reason think that prescription pain pills are a good idea. Never.  Have I taken them? Yes. Would I ever take them again? Highly unlikely. No, this is not just to prove what a badass I am. I understand pain. Broken bones, natural childbirth, surgery…I even drilled through my finger once and had to have shards of metal pulled from the wound…I get pain. I understand the need to feel a single moment of relief from pain that makes you want to curl up and fade away.  But, the downside of finding that relief in a prescription pill is so huge and monstrous that it just isn’t worth it. Addiction, organ damage, bone damage, brain damage…and the truth is, most pain pills just take the edge off and make you loopy or tired. There are so many natural pain relievers available that the thought of taking a scrip med for pain is ludicrous. The natural choices may take a few minutes longer to work, but their effects are often longer-lasting and also provide healing benefits.

So, there you have it. There was no need to go to the doctor. I could splint it myself, prevent an infection, deal with the pain and heal it up much faster all by myself.  Here’s my little secret, though…I was kind of scared. I knew, in theory, that it was possible. I had seen it done. I have read case after case of herbs that worked for healing bones on a spectacular level. This was me, though, and, after all of my spouting off about the power of natural medicine, this was something of a test. Of my faith. Of my ability. This was a ‘Live it or leave it’ moment. I chose to live it.

The first thing I did was remind my husband how to make a poultice. I am quite determined to make an herbalist of him yet, and he did a fine job! He mixed up the herbs and added the oils and heated and wrapped and doted on me. I slept with the poultice on the first night. By morning, the pain was minimal. Definitely bearable if I was very still. I applied my Bone Salve several times a day and soaked my foot in an Epsom bath. I applied ice and drank herbal tea that had herbs to heal bones in it. I stayed off that sucker for almost 2 whole days!

Then, I needed to be mobile. I got lucky because our neighbor had just healed up from ankle surgery and had gadgets and gizmos that he was willing to let me borrow. Like this crazy boot:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGetting in to the boot is an exercise in fine motor skills and patience, but once you get through all the straps and velcro, it is a truly beautiful contraption! It was comfier than I expected, provided amazing support and allowed me to hobble around for short periods without a lot of pain. I kept it on for a whole week…almost. After the first week, I only wore it when I felt like I needed it.

It took a good 3 weeks before I was back to almost-normal. I most often forgot to apply the poultice, but I took bone-building herbs and tea, and used lots of Bone Salve. By the third week, the swelling was gone, most of the bruising was gone and I had full functionality of the ankle. I was pretty impressed.

Now, here is where I want you to really pay attention. I attribute a majority of the healing that is happening to a combination of herbs. The most important one, though, is one that the FDA has declared, “dangerous”.  They state liver toxicity resulting from the use of comfrey. 4 cases of it with sketchy details as the basis for their theory.  I won’t make you sit and read all the studies, but should you be interested in how they arrived at this conclusion, this is a fantastic starting point that is fairly easy to read. Like most of the herbs labeled ‘dangerous’ by the morons at the FDA, Comfrey has been used for thousands of years, across a broad spectrum of nationalities, with no bad press until the last few decades. The studies conducted have been on inbred lab rats that were given several hundred times the dosage of the questionable constituent needed for a human.

Comfrey

Comfrey

For the sake of argument, let us say that they are correct, though. Let us pretend that there have been 4 cases of liver damage over the last 300 years. Hell, let us say there have been 40 cases. Compare that to the antibiotics and pain pills the doctors try and feed you at every opportunity. Need I say more…?

Next, compare the risk of comfrey to the benefits of comfrey. Of course, I have read the reports on how comfrey has been used over the centuries, not just for healing bones, but for a variety of ailments. Safely. With no reported negative consequences. Dr. Christopher has a wonderfully explicit history of comfrey here that is well worth the read!

For the sake of time and space, though, we are just going to stick with comfrey’s ability to help heal bones. One of the many historical names is ‘boneset’.

It has been reported to have the ability to pull shattered bits of bone back into their proper place. It is also a cell proliferate, which means that it has the ability to generate new cell growth, as well as repair damaged cells. Can you imagine? A plant that is actually capable of repairing a shattered bone? These aren’t a few isolated reports we are talking about. It is hundreds. Thousands.

The stories that really hooked me, though, were the ones that talked about comfrey’s ability to repair old wounds and breaks. Ones that had already reset themselves. It was said that comfrey could realign bones that had healed improperly, or that had been wrong since birth. I will admit that even I was a bit skeptical of some of these claims. However, I never really expected to be able to test the claims. Ain’t life funny?

I have now reached the 6 week point. This is the point at which I would be expected to return to the doctor’s office, had I opted to go that route. As I lay in my bed the other night studying my ankle and admiring the fact that I no longer had a greenish-black kankle, I noticed something unbelievable. Remember when I said that my feet used to turn inward at a right angle?  Let me elaborate. My left ankle was so turned in when at rest that my big toe would rest against the inside knob of my right ankle. My right ankle was not nearly as turned, but it did have an obvious bend.

That is no longer the case. Check this out!

crooked foot

My ankle is straight. For the first time since before I can remember, my left ankle is straight! Do you see that?

Then, I rotated my ankle. The double-jointed popping thing was gone. Poof! Vanished!

I started paying attention after that, and realized that I am walking different, too. It is a hard thing to describe. Where once I had to walk carefully because there was a ‘loose’ feeling in my ankles, that was no longer a problem. My ankle felt firmer. More stable. I also noticed that my heel and the side of my foot were a bit sore. I have always walked slightly on the inside of my feet and my heel and outer edge of the foot never had to bear much weight. Not anymore.

The moral of the story? There isn’t one really. This is more about my renewed amazement at the power of herbs and the bodies ability to heal itself when given the proper tools. And, not just heal, but heal in a way that makes it better and stronger than before.

After 6 weeks, I still wear the boot occasionally because I have a penchant for over-doing it when my to-do list is getting out of control. I still use the salve to help soothe the ache that comes with damp weather or over-use. I still take it easy on my ankle because I know that it is still healing. But, that’s the whole point…it IS healing. Spectacularly.

But, still…maybe, just maybe…this was simply another fluke. A one-time thing. So, I am going to be my own guinea pig. Seeing as how my right ankle is still a little bent and much weaker than it should be, I am going to spend a couple of weeks using the poultice and bone salve on it. I’ll let you all know how it goes!

 

 

 

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Degenerative Bone Disease.  It sounds painful, doesn’t it?  It is a phrase that I have been hearing a lot of lately.  At first, it was just the 35 and older crowd -mostly women-  that kept saying they had been diagnosed with it, but gradually the victims have gotten younger.  In fact, just recently I heard about a 9-year-old little girl that had been diagnosed with it.

So, this then, is the newest medical ‘trend’.  Frightening.  Even more frightening is that most doctors are telling their patients that there is no way to reverse the disease or the damage it has caused.  Instead, the best they can hope for is to control the pain with some prescription meds.  ‘Experts’ tell you that osteoporosis drugs are the answer.   Forget the dangerous side effects.

Degenerative bone disease is, for all intents and purposes, the same thing as osteoporosis.   This is caused from a lack of calcium, vitamin D and other bone-building vitamins and minerals.  Many people run to the health food store and stock up on some multi-vitamin that claims to have these ingredients in it, hoping to prevent this disease.  You all know what I think about vitamin pills, right?  This is not the answer.  It is difficult for the body to process vitamins and nutrients that are not organic.  Raw.  In their natural state.  In order to prevent this disease, you have to get these essential elements from your food, not from a pill.

But, that’s not where this blog post is going.  We were talking about Degenerative Bone Disease. So, here’s how it works ~  our bodies, when kept in good working order, are designed to heal themselves.  Skin, tissue, bone and blood will all repair and replenish themselves, returning to perfect working order even after the most severe damage.  We have already dealt with healing skin and tissue, so lets talk about healing bones.

Like most people, I had always assumed that bones, once broken, never truly healed.  Not back to the way they were before.  In fact, when I broke my wrist I remember the doctor putting on that awful cast and telling my mom how careful I would have to be because that would always be a weak spot in my bone.  Later, I learned that it was not the broken spot, itself, as much as the area just above and below the healed fracture that was the most vulnerable.  Either way, things would never be the same.

Then, I decided to go and become an herbalist.  In earning one of my herbalist certifications, I was introduced to the possibility that the bones are, in fact, capable of healing completely.  Just like they were before they were damaged.  With the proper treatment and healing methods, even a shattered, fragmented mess of bones could pull itself back together so you’d never even know it was harmed.  Did you notice the big, dark italicized letters?

The body, when it is deprived of the things it needs to function (things like calcium and vitamin D), will start to pull these things from it’s storehouse – the bones.  When that storehouse is depleted, the shell becomes brittle and fragile.  Bones may break more easily, or even break off a single chip at a time.

It is not just depriving the body of the things it needs that is the problem, though.  There are many other things that will cause the body to lose these essential elements faster.  They will actually pull them from the body.  Iodized salt, white sugar, caffeine and many prescription and OTC medicines are some of the worst culprits.

Coincidentally, it seems that in most cases of osteoporosis, or degenerative bone disease that I have heard about, bad diet  and a history of prescription meds are prevalent.  Without exception, when I asked about their eating habits many of them ate canned or boxed meals on a regular basis, were at least minimally overweight, and consumed high levels of meat, sugar and caffeine.

So, what to do to fix things?  Treat the osteoporosis like it is a broken bone.  Give it what it needs to repair and regenerate stronger bones.  Of course, this isn’t always an easy thing.  For some of us, switching to a raw food diet is just not an option.  However, switching to a partially-raw-food diet is.  That doesn’t mean to eat a rare steak, either.  I’m talking raw fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains.

Here are some of the best foods and herbs to help your body help itself to heal from broken bones or even degenerative bone disease:

Bananas, cantaloupe, eggplant, cucumber, peppers, strawberries, avocados, cabbage, green foods (broccoli, kale, spinach)

And, don’t forget these bone-building herbs:

parsley, horsetail, red clover, alfalfa, kelp, rose hips, dandelion

But, you still need some vitamin D.  Vitamin D is critical because it allows the body to absorb calcium.  Without it, there is little chance of reversing bone damage.  If you ask most people, they will tell you that your best source of Vitamin D comes from milk and other dairy products, or from one of those great-tasting cereals off the grocery store shelves enriched with Vitamin D.  They would be way off the mark.  In fact, there is very little evidence that dairy products help at all with vitamin D.  In fact, most modern research shows that dairy products hinder the system in many ways.  That’s a post for another day, though…

So, what to do?  Simple really.  Step outside.  You know how I’m always spouting off about fresh air and sunshine?   10-15 minutes of sunlight on the face and hands every other day will provide you with the proper amount of vitamin D, among many other benefits.

Here’s the surprise, though.  You would think that brittle bones mean you should stay away from exercise to avoid injury.  This isn’t the case, either.  Gentle exercises like yoga or tai chi will help strengthen not just the bones, but the entire body.  It will stimulate the organs of the body to work properly, which in turn will allow the body to heal itself.  It will help calm and focus the mind, which has been shown to speed the healing of the body.  Plus, it just makes you feel good!

Finally, de-stress your life.  Stress has been shown to promote health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers and other digestive disorders, depression and even with how the body absorbs and uses the vitamins and minerals it is given.  I know, sometimes that is much easier said than done, but  if your health is at stake then maybe now is the time to re-evaluate your life.  Decide what is truly important and let the rest fall to the wayside. Take time to watch a sunrise.  Take a drive in the country.  Spend a night with friends.  Laughter really is the best medicine.

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