Injury healing and tissue repair- Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at the role of inflammation in wound repair and the management of inflammation. Part 2 is about tissue perfusion. A lot of this information is applicable for preventing tissue damage in the first place and explores practises that ensure better recovery. Injuries, wounds etc obviously come in many different forms, so this information is general only.

What are tissues? Tissues are groups of cells that are bound together or are working together as a team to do a special job. You could think of cells as being the bricks in the house, and tissues as being the walls i.e. the bricks/cells combine together to form the walls/tissues. Just as cells combine to create tissues, tissues combine to create organs. Using our house building analogy, an organ would be a group of walls working together to become a room! And all of our organs working together as a team are the equivalent of the house as a whole.

Good tissue perfusion is a good blood supply to the tissues. Good tissue perfusion is really helpful when it comes to repairing wounds and/or reducing excess inflammation. When enough blood is being delivered to our body tissues, the cells in our tissues are being nourished with nutrients and oxygen from our blood. As well as delivering what the cells need to survive and thrive, our blood also helps to remove waste products from the tissues and cells, which is just as important for maintaining healthy tissue and cellular function. Continue reading

St Johns Wort- safe use

St John’s Wort is probably one of the most researched and self-prescribed herbs around, so I thought I’d let people know some info for safe usage. These are some of the things I have to think about, as a professional, before prescribing:

Pregnancy and breastfeeding: while this herb appears to be safe so far given studies on both pregnancy and breastfeeding, I tend to err on the side of caution in pregnancy and use less or no herbs (or only miscarriage-prevention herbs), especially if there is any history of miscarriage.

There is a wonderful word we use in herbal medicine called ‘contraindicated’, which is the opposite to ‘indicated’. When someone says “St John’s Wort is indicated in ___”, this means “use this herb for this condition”. If a herb is contraindicated for a particular condition, it means DONT use it.

For example, St Johns Wort is contraindicated for people who have skin photosensitivity, and people taking high doses should be careful if they get a lot of sun exposure or artificial UVA irradiation.

St Johns Wort has been listed as contraindicated with the following drugs: warfarin, digoxin, cyclosporin, indinavir and related anti-HIV drugs, the contraceptive pill… and many others! This is because doctors are worried that something in SJWort may make the body metabolise prescribed drugs faster and thus reduce their effectiveness. It looks like the cause for this might be a specific phytochemical called hyperforin that is present in some subspecies of STWort and not others. Low SJW doses of no more than 2g per day, and/or a form containing less hyperforin (e.g. liquid herbal extract like the ones us herbalists use!) can make SJW safe to use with prescribed drugs, but it should still be done with professional supervision. I’ve certainly seen people get pregnant while on the pill due to taking SJW concurrently (at the same time). So basically, if you are on prescribed medication, don’t self-prescribe SJW- get professional guidance. Continue reading

Neuralgia

I was recently asked to talk about neuralgia by one of the members in our group “Ask the Vegan Naturopath”. Whenever my replies are longer than a few paragraphs, I prefer to turn them into blogs. 

Neuralgia is nerve pain, tingling and/or pins and needles from inflamed or damaged nerves.

Each client is treated as an individual and remedies are chosen that suit each unique case. The first thing to consider is the underlying cause, if it can be identified. Is the problem being caused by something structural in the musculoskeletal system tied in with injury or bad habits like poor posture and sitting too much? Is it damage caused by too much alcohol or drugs, or by too much glucose in the blood? Other causes might be too much artificial supplemented vitamin B6 or some kind of environment poisoning eg arsenic, mercury, lead, organo-phosphate residues from weed-killers and so on. An example of a nutrient deficiency that might cause nerve pain is vitamin B12 deficiency. Nerve pain can also be caused by infections like shingles. And the list goes on! Continue reading

Oats

Don’t you just love the look of this breakfast?! I’m not much of a cereal-for-breakfast person myself, but if I do have cereal, porridge is it! This is whole-oats porridge with rice milk, coconut yogurt, banana, apple, strawberry, mandarine, chai seeds, LSA (ground up linseed, sunflower and almonds).

I love food-herbs like oats. Food herbs are often also nutritive herbs, herbs that are packed full of nutrients; a whole-food multi-mineral/vitamin source. Oats is extremely rich in silicon, iron, chromium, sodium and magnesium. It also contains high levels of phosphorus and calcium, reasonable amounts of iron and selenium, and smaller quantities of iron, zinc, manganese and potassium. The magnesium-calcium-potassium team is a classic nervous system team and in herbs like this it’s present in beautifully synergistic or perfectly balanced ratio’s that the body loves. Continue reading

Synergy

From a nutritional perspective, synergism is the way certain nutrients within a food are interlinked and work together as a team. The fact that iron is absorbed better in the presence of vitamin C is a very simple example of synergism, but if I pick up my Nutrition Bible, the synergistic nutrients listed for iron are Vit B2, B12, citrate, copper, clic acid, histidine, lysine, molybdenum, and selenium.

In this, one of my favourite textbooks by Henry Osieki, Henry describes synergistic nutrients as those who “work together in particular metabolic pathways as well as cofactors that activate the nutrient in question.” He says that “supplementing a synergistic combination of nutrients with the nutrient in question will result in better health outcomes at (a)lower dose of the star nutrient for a condition.” Continue reading

Holism, reductionism and cultural relativity

It’s strange to think that the idea of everything being interconnected is considered by many scientific thinkers to be a novel, somewhat hypothetical, or even dubious idea. Science hobbles itself with it’s own scientific method, because it must isolate and separate whatever it studies from it’s environment in order to control the study process. And yet nothing in reality is ever separate from it’s environment.

A single cell is one of many, coordinating it’s activity and function within a tissue, and the collective structure and function of these cells is what creates the tissue they are part of. The tissue these cells are a part of, is one of many tissues which interlock and overlap to form an organ. The specific character of these tissues, and the way they interact, is what governs the structure and function of the organ they are a part of. And from here, it is the organisation of many organs, all structurally and functionally interconnected, that creates the human body as a whole. Continue reading

Coumarins

One of my favourite phytochemistry groups when I was studying naturopathy were the coumarins. I find it enchanting when the presence of a plant chemical can be guessed at from the taste, smell or some other observable factor, such as the soapiness of plants containing saponins. Continue reading

Saponins

Paleo proponents list ‘saponins’ in legumes as one of the reasons why we shouldn’t eat them. Wow! As a herbalist, saponins are one of my favourite herbal constituents. You can’t select one single action a plant-chemical possesses and then conclude that this one action sums up the entire purpose and existence of this plant chemical as a whole. Crazy stuff!

Saponins are part of many plant’s immune systems, protecting them from insects, predictors and fungal infections. I love the fact that the presence of saponins can often be identified without any lab equipment, simply by adding water and agitating: if soapy bubbles appear, you have saponins! We used to have a wattle tree outside containing saponins and in the wet season our pavers would get a fantastic wash-down from the combination of rain with fallen saponin-containing leaves. Continue reading

Agar Agar

IMG_0468Agar Agar (also known as agar, or kanten) is the mucilage content drawn from several seaweeds. As a herbalist, I’ve always been fascinated with mucilaginous herbs and foods. The action associated with mucilage content in an ingested herb or food is referred to as ‘demulcent’. If used topically on the skin, the action of mucilaginous herbs is referred to as ’emollient’. Emollients and demulcents are soothing, cooling, moistening and calming for body tissues they come in contact with.

This is a mechanical more so than a chemical action; mucilages are sticky, gooey, and almost mucous-like… hence the name! This consistency is what provides soothing to irritated tissues. The bit that always intrigued me during my naturopathic training was the idea that these mucilage-soothed tissues could send a kind of ‘calm and happy’ message to other mucous membranes in the body. Realistically, ingested demulcent herbs only come into contact with the digestive lining, and yet, their soothing effect can be felt in the lungs and the urinary system. No one knows for sure exactly how or why this is so, but it is possible that calmed nerve endings in in the gut-lining send a nerve-reflex ‘message’ to mucous membranes elsewhere. Continue reading

Lavender Cake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARECIPE

Base layer

1/4 cup of caramelised buckwheat groats

1/4 cup of walnuts 1/2 cup of almonds

4 pitted dates

Process everything together in the food processor. If your mix isn’t sticky enough, add more dates! Press this mix into the bottom of a baking dish. This is your base layer.

Middle layer

5 pitted dates

2 tablespoons of almonds spread/paste

1/2 tablespoon of tahini paste

1/2 cup of cashews a pinch of salt

Blend everything together in food processor. Taste test and more dates if it isn’t sweet enough for you. Pour/spoon into your baking dish, and spread it evenly over the bottom layer. Put the baking dish in the freezer so this layer can firm up while you make the top layer.

Top layer

2 bananas (you can use peeled frozen bananas if you like)

1 cup of blueberries

1/3 of a cup of organic dried lavender flowers(or less if you want a more subtle flavour)

4 dates

1/2 cup of cashews

Process all ingredients. Taste test for sweetness and add more dates or blueberries as needed. Spoon this mixture over the middle layer and spread it out evenly. Put this back in the freezer overnight. The next day, remove from freezer, let it thaw out for a short time (e.g. 5-10 minutes), and then cut into squares and serve. 

The Therapeutic uses of Lavender

As a herbalist/naturopath, I find lavender particularly effective for relieving stress, anxiety and insomnia when there is a lot of anger involved, such as feelings of irritation and frustration. It can provide either a stimulating or sedative effect, depending on what the body needs.

ACTIONS

*Anti-inflammatory

*Antipyretic

*Analgesic

*Antiseptic

*Nervous Sedative

*Immunostimulant

*Relaxant

USES

*Agitated depression or depression mixed with anxiety.

*Restlessness, anxiety, frustration, irritation, insomnia, over-active mind.

*Low back pain, abdominal cramps, flatulence, aches and pains, headaches.

*Dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath, cold limbs, chilliness.

*Fever, sore throat, sinusitis, asthma, cough, infections and inflammation in general.

*Nausea, constipation or diarrhoea, appetite loss, sore liver area.

*Topical for burns, sunburn, itching, bites, eczema, acne etc