Injury healing and tissue repair – Part 1

 Managing inflammation

Inflammation is often what causes pain but it’s important to understand that inflammation is the bodies attempt to repair a wound and resolve or prevent infection. When there is a broken bone or broken skin, inflammation is the magical process that helps knit everything back together again.

A little bit of inflammation is natural and helpful, but quite often when it comes to healing, it can help to dampen the inflammation process slightly, because our Western/modern diet and lifestyle tends to tip inflammation into overdrive or to steer it in unhelpful directions that hinder rather than help healing.

In some scenarios, inflammation is a natural response to irritation and friction. For example, in osteoarthritis the loss of friction-avoiding, shock-absorbing cartilage means that bones start to touch and rub against each other. This causes inflammation. Friction-based inflammation can occur on a day-to-day basis when we neglect our posture, put too much pressure on the musculoskeletal system by being overweight or ignore injuries and continue to aggravate them rather than resting and getting help to recover properly. One of the most important things you can do to prevent inflammation is to avoid sitting too much, pushing your body too hard, and engaging in repetitive physical movements that result in wear and tear of specific muscles and joints. Continue reading

Herbs for skin, bones, nails, ears, sinus and mucous membranes.

For a beautiful person! As a vegan whole-foods naturopath, I love the biocomplexity and synergism of minerals embedded within whole-foods and herbs. Here are some of my favourite herbs and foods for mucous congestion (tied in with ear and sinus problems), nail and skin health, and bone/muscle health.  Continue reading

That Bitter Taste!

Why do herbalists love bitter herbs and foods?

Because they do incredible things in the body. What has always amazed me is that the tongue responds to a bitter taste by sending a message via nerve receptors in the tongue all the way down into the gut wall, stimulating the release of digestive juices and a hormone called gastrin. The value of bitters is completely dependant on you actually being able to taste the bitterness.

Many of us don’t give much thought to the range of tastes we have in our diet, and we tend to fixate solely on sweet, fat and salty. This causes imbalances in the body! Sweet food in particular can put the digestive and immune systems to sleep if they are over-used…or if you have a yeast sensitivity, sweet foods can wreak havoc, resulting in allergies and auto-immune disorders.

Bitters are also cooling, being perfect for ‘hot’ constitutions.

Bitters:

*stimulate appetite

*increase flow of digestive juices / absorption of nutrients

*reduce the risk of gut infections

*reduce food allergies

*improve bowel flora

*increase bile flow and dilution

*reduce gallbladder and liver disease

*balance pancreatic endocrine function (i.e. useful for blood sugar issues)

*repair the gut wall lining

I particularly want to point out the role bitters play in improving bowel flora and the health of the gut lining. I am so happy that the world around me is discovering fermented foods, but I hope they also realise that a diversity of plant foods and tastes can accomplish the same job. Meat, on the other hand, putrefies in the gut, feeding bad bacteria, but not good.

Bitters also have a balancing effect on other parts the endocrine system (not just the pancreas). I can’t remember how this works right at this very moment, but I suspect it is via the beneficial effect on the gut and liver. A healthy liver can somehow monitor what we need chemically and if there is a hormonal excess, it clears out old used up versions of these hormones and sends them to the gut, which, if it is working properly, can flush them out. If, on the other hand we need more of that particular hormone, the liver can do a very fine job of giving tattered hormones a makeover and getting in back into blood circulation. In other words, it sorts, recycles and cleanses. Isn’t the body simply amazing?