Simple ankle injuries are bound to happen from time to time. It’s a fact of life. All it takes is one good accidental misstep for someone to roll their joint and suddenly be crippled from pain. You’ve probably heard about ice, heat, elevation and ace bandages. All good remedies, but what you may not have heard about is a little tool that you can keep in your arsenal called a poultice. Specifically, a comfrey poultice. Comfrey has long been used as not only a treatment for broken bones and sprains, but also skin ulcers and inflammation. Comfrey can help to heal ulcers or inflammation of the skin so well due to its active ingredient called allantoin. Comfrey also contains special alkaloids called pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are extremely potent enough to be absorbed through the skin to aid in bone and joint health. For this reason, herbalists and naturopaths now recommend comfrey to be used as an external treatment only, as the high potency of these alkaloids can cause harm to the liver if ingested.
So how do you go about making one of these poultices for a twisted/sprained ankle? Lovetoknow.com has a handy recipe for making one from scratch, and also includes other resources about where to find commercially-made comfrey preparations.
“To make a comfrey poultice, crush or mash about two tablespoons of comfrey leaves in very hot water. Place the mashed ball of hot comfrey leaves inside a piece of cheese cloth or cloth and tie the ends together with a rubber band to make a little packet. Place it against the wound. Use it for ten minutes on, then wait an hour before applying it again. Don’t use it for more than ten days in a row, and try to avoid using comfrey preparations several times in one year.”
Comfrey poultices have historically been very effective at reducing inflammation and swelling in a sprained ankle. However, there is a second tool that can be used effectively to your advantage.
We had mentioned elevation earlier. Why do people recommend elevation for a swollen foot? The answer lies in the lymphatic system. We know that the lymphatic system is the channel that flows throughout our bodies and carries lymph from place to place. Oftentimes, inflammation and stagnation as a result of illness or injury results in fluid being unable to move upwards towards the lymph nodes and the heart, resulting in pain and swelling. Elevating an ankle above the heart is one way to combat this in an ankle injury. However, the further up you can get your ankle, the easier it is to reduce swelling. I myself severely twisted my ankle during a freak misstep about two weeks ago. I iced it immediately to reduce the pain, and wrapped it up in the ace bandage for compression for when I had to go to work on my feet for eight hours the next day. As soon as I got home that night, I did my nightly routine of hanging completely vertically upside-down from the bends of my knees from the pull-up bar we have in our kitchen doorway (for visual reference, see below photo example). The next day, I noticed the pain in my ankle had gotten better. I thought nothing of it, and did the same routine that night as I usually do. Then, the next day, I noticed the pain was almost gone. Now keep in mind, I had done almost nothing except for an ace bandage while on my feet, and hanging upside down. The key was in the elevation! My ankle was so far above my heart because I was completely upside down, the elevation and compression (most likely coupled with the immediate icing of the ankle immediately upon twisting it) is what ended up healing the injury!
Image credit: alifelessbeige.com
Just another adventure in learning about the wonders of the lymphatic system. 🙂 Stay happy and healthy, friends!