Elevation and Poultices: Tips for Healing a Sprained Ankle

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.”

Image credit: beekman1802.com

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!

~ Anna

Beating Allergies the Natural Way With Nature’s Sunshine

How  many of you (I’m speaking to you, southerners!) are dreading the beginning of spring because of the oncoming pollen storm? If you don’t want to spend the entire spring season in a Benadryl haze, you may want to look for an alternative method to beating allergies. HistaBlock® (90 caps)

Image credit: Nature’s Sunshine.com

Nature’s Sunshine makes a wonderful supplement called HistaBlock, which contains nettle leaves, bitter orange fruit, quercetin and bromelain. Quercetin is a naturally occurring flavonoid found in foods such as capers, buckwheat, watercress, sweet potatoes, red kidney beans, and more. According to Dr. Axe.com, “Quercetin plays a role in regulating the immune system’s response to outside stressors through cell signaling pathways called kinases and phosphatases, two types of enzyme and membrane proteins needed for proper cellular function.” This is why it makes such a useful addition to a natural supplement that is used in fighting outside irritants, such as pollen and other allergens.

Nettle leaves are a powerful anti-inflammatory herb that contains compounds that counteract the body’s production of histamine. Likewise, so is bromelain. Its anti-inflammatory properties can be very helpful in reducing inflammation throughout the body, but in particular, has been shown to help greatly in reducing swelling in the airways and respiratory system. Bromelain is most commonly found in pineapples. If you’ve ever heard people say that drinking pineapple juice is a good way to help get rid of a cough, this would be why!

If you’ve decided that you would like an extra boost to this supplement, drinking pineapple juice or even mixing pineapple juice into a nettle leaf tea could definitely be of additional benefit. Trader Joe’s sells a pineapple juice that contains NO artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, added sugars, or extra water to reconstitute concentrated juice. All the pure pineappley benefits, without the health-food store price!

Image credit: Trader Joe’s.com
The quality ingredients found in HistaBlock make for a powerful anti-inflammatory supplement that has proved itself among users to be very helpful at reducing allergies throughout springtime. So before you think about relying on OTC drugs, perhaps consider an herbal remedy instead!

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and we are not doctors. We are simply relaying what we know as natural health practitioners to be true of these herbs.

Stay happy and healthy, friends!

Strep and Yeast Infections: A Two-Part Story With a Two-Part Happy Ending

Part 2

Thanks for tuning back in to Part 2 of our two-part post on natural remedies for dealing with strep throat and antibiotic-induced microflora upset. Today’s post is about the latter issue. I last mentioned that I had not only developed an effective method at beating strep throat, but also a method for beating the chronic vaginal yeast infections I had developed as a result of heavy antibiotic use. Spring/summertime of 2015 found me dealing with an overgrowth of candida albicans (AKA, bad yeast!) that left me not only itchy and painful, but red and swollen beyond belief insofar that I was actually frightened to look at myself in a mirror. To add injury to injury, it would turn out that I was allergic to any and all over-the-counter medications, which would cause severe burning and pain. Every time one of these nasty infections popped up, it would send me running to the doctor to get the prescription medication pill, as it was the only thing that would take care of the problem.

Luckily, I happened to be working for one of the top naturopaths in the country at the time. She was renowned for recommending Nature’s Sunshine brand supplements to her clients, which we carried at her retail store in which I worked. She told me that when if taken every other hour, JP-X is capable of helping the body flush itself of a yeast infection in just 12 hours. Yes – you read that right – TWELVE HOURS! If you’re skeptical, read on.

JP-X is used primarily for kidney and bladder function. The reason why lies in the juniper berries and uva ursi root that JP-X contains. Juniper berries act as a mild diuretic are used to treat urinary problems. They also contain detoxifying properties that can help relieve inflammation. Uva ursi is not only a diuretic and anti-inflammatory as well, but is also a muscle relaxant. Uva ursi has shown to be effective at soothing and strengthening irritated and inflamed tissues. These calming, anti-inflammatory properties, as well as diuretic properties, benefit the vagina as a whole because being able to flush out infections via the urinary system will effectively help to shed excess candida overgrowth of the vagina.

Image credit: Nature’s Sunshine.com

My naturopathic mentor also explained to me that if JP-X was to be taken every other hour, Caprylic Acid Combination needed to be taken the alternating hours. Nature’s Sunshine Caprylic Acid Combination is useful for fighting candida overgrowth for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is that caprylic acid in and of itself is effective at dissolving excessive yeast. Caprylic Acid Combination also contains elecampane root, which is an expectorant and can aid in fighting harmful organisms. For this reason, it is primarily used on its own as a respiratory remedy. Also included in Caprylic Acid Combination are black walnut hulls, which are extremely rich in anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties, making them a necessary ingredient in this supplement. Finally, red raspberry leaves are included as well, due to their strong refrigerant properties, meaning they are effective at cooling the body when inflamed and feverish.

Image credit: Nature’s Sunshine.com

My mentor encouraged me to be sure to drink plenty of water all day long in addition to taking these supplements every hour on the hour. At this point, I was in so much pain and discomfort that I wasn’t even hesitant anymore. I faithfully followed the regimen, and was astonished and relieved to discover the swelling and pain reducing more and more with every single trip to the restroom.

So there you have it, friends! This is the story of how I actually cured my own yeast infection in just one day.

Because I knew exactly what it was that was causing my candida upset, this method proved safe for me to be able to handle in a pinch when I was desperate for a cure for the most recent yeast infection. If you find yourself suffering from reoccurring symptoms of candida overgrowth and are not sure why, the issue could lie in diet and a problem with intestinal microflora. If this is the case, a candida cleanse may possibly be in order. DO NOT use this method of relieving yeast overgrowth if you are unsure of why you are experiencing symptoms, or are unsure if your system can handle taking upwards of 5 or more supplements a day. When in doubt, visiting a master herbalist, naturopath or consulting your physician is always recommended.

Stay happy and healthy, friends! ~ Anna

DISCLOSURE: Please note these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. I am not a doctor. I am simply sharing my experiences.

Strep and Yeast Infections: A Two-Part Story With a Two-Part Happy Ending

Part 1

I was going through a particularly stressful time in my life about two years ago, during the spring of 2015. I had just dealt with a breakup and my then-partner was moving out of our house. It was a particularly hairy situation, and one that I forced myself to power through until it was over. So naturally, my body did what bodies do – it took on the stress of the situation for me. I ended up suffering from a nasty, severe case of strep throat that left me bedridden for two weeks and unable to eat. Round 1 of antibiotics seemed to take care of the problem temporarily, but it would turn out that I was far from out of the woods. It kept coming back, over and over. Over the course of three or four months, I suffered from what seemed like case after case of strep throat. In reality, it was most likely a reoccurring case that never went away completely. I can’t even remember which of these cases were supposedly bacterial and which were supposedly viral. At any rate, the doctors I kept going to see continued to throw antibiotics at me. If you know anything about maintaining a healthy balance of microflora, you know that repeated rounds of antibiotics can and will spell disaster – as antibiotics have been known to wreak havoc on any kinds of bacteria they cross paths with – good or bad. Of course, this is beneficial when dealing with bacterial infections, but in my particular case, not so much. In order to have a healthy established microflora system, we need these good kind of bacteria.

Enter part two of this vicious cycle – my body began developing a chronic string of severe vaginal yeast infections (more on this in our next post – stay tuned!). The yeast infections weren’t the only painful side effect. The last round of antibiotics ended up sending my esophagus into a random case of spasms so painful I could have sworn that I had a boulder sitting in my chest. After going to the emergency room with chest pain and having an EKG run on me, it was deduced that the antibiotics were the cause.

I left the emergency room and decided that enough was enough. I had researched holistic methods of ways to beat strep throat naturally, and was determined to make it work. Of course, I have to give this attitude of determination credit for helping me overcome as well. I immediately drove to my local health food store and purchased items that I knew could be put into a cocktail of immunity boosting, virus-kicking power!

If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that I am not a cook and do not follow recipes to a tee. So, here is my very rudimentary recipe that has worked very well for me in the past and is my go-to every time I come down with a sore throat.

 

You will need:

  • A clove of garlic, chopped as fine as you can get it
    garlic
    Image credit: Reference.com
  • As much cayenne pepper as you can tolerate
    cayennepepper-web
    Image credit: Broscience.com
  • As much honey as you want to taste
    honey
    Image credit: Fairtradeusa.com
  • Enough apple cider vinegar to mix with the honey to make it into a liquid
    acv
    Image credit: Bragg.com
  • Fresh lemon juice
    lemon-juice
    Image credit: Nutritionsecrets.com

The process is simple: mince the garlic as fine as you can, and add the rest of the ingredients into a mortar and pestle. Use the pestle to grind the ingredients as finely as you can into a syrupy mixture, and ingest this mixture until it’s gone. Repeat until symptoms have dissipated!

If you feel that the mixture is too strong to be able to handle, you can always mix this with a cup of Traditional Medicinals Lemon Echinacea Throat Coat Tea and sip on it intermittently throughout the day.

tea

Image credit: TraditionalMedicinals.com

The beauty of this method is that adding more and more fresh lemon juice or honey to cut the spiciness of the mixture will only add more health benefits!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post coming up next week to learn about the remedies I discovered to help me with the yeast infections I mentioned that happened as a result of the antibiotics.

Stay happy and healthy, friends! ~ Anna

Tasty Tuesday: Fried Tempeh and Vegan Mac n Cheeze

Tasty Tuesdays are back! My name is Anna, and I have been newly hired as the social media director at here at Light Hand. For those unfamiliar with Light Hand, we are a holistic health center and muscle therapy business located in Greenville, SC. I am thoroughly excited to begin assisting with the social media pages, and in particular, the LH blog. This post in particular is my first one!

One of the ways in which I’m a lot like our owner Theresa is that I’m quick to assert that I’m a cook. “I like to toss things in a pot. I tend to stray from a recipe.” Additionally, I also cook totally vegan, and I find this method to be particularly true of vegan food. Since deciding to rid my kitchen of animal products, I’ve found myself being pulled towards finding vegan alternatives for favorite comfort foods, as this is what helps to lessen cravings for cheat food! 😉

I’ve since developed a recipe for my favorite go-to comfort dinner: “chik’n-fried” tempeh strips with vegan mac and cheeze! Most of the recipes for vegan mac and cheeze that I’ve come across call for making your cheeze sauce out of either veggies that have been simmering for a half an hour, or pre-soaked nuts in a blender. While these are certainly more nutritionally sound than my recipe, they also most likely require a trip to the grocery store beforehand, or more time and energy at home than one may have to spend. This recipe is a simple compromise between making a homemade sauce out of homemade nut milk/cooked vegetables, and the instant boxed mac-n-cheeze (not to knock these either – I keep several of these on hand at home for when I want some in a real pinch!).

Fried Tempeh

Ingredients:

  • Tempeh – any brand or type will do. Smiling Hara makes a variety of tempeh that suits all kinds of dietary needs – soy-free, gluten-free, you name it! My own personal go-to is 1 package of Trader Joe’s $1.99 organic 3-grain tempeh, which comes in an 8 oz. package. Therefore, this recipe is suited for 8 ounces’ worth.

tempeh 1

Image credit: Rosey Rebecca.com

tempeh 2

Image credit: The Glowing Fridge.com

  • Nutritional yeast – I typically use a very generous amount – usually around 4 tablespoons or so. I usually buy my nutritional yeast in bulk at Whole Foods, as NY is oftentimes a staple in vegan cooking!

 

nut yeast

Image credit: One Green Planet.org

  • Sea salt/Himalayan pink salt for additional nutritional benefits – this part is a serious guestimation, just add as much as you want!
  • Water!

Step 1: cut the tempeh into vertical strips, thick enough to the point that they don’t disintegrate, but thin enough that boiling it will still penetrate it with flavor.

tempeh_1

Step 2: fill a pot with about two inches of water. Add all of the ingredients to the water, stirring to make sure the nutritional yeast and salt are mixed well.

tempeh_2

Step 3: let boil until the amount of liquid in the pot is almost gone, and the remaining liquid is thick and gravy-like.

Bonus: if you’d like, you can leave a small amount of this liquid to add to your cheeze sauce – or you can just pour it in a mug and drink it. It has a DELICIOUS, chicken broth-like flavor that I personally drink on its own because I love it THAT much.

tempeh broth

Step 4: Pull tempeh out of pot and let dry off. Heat a few decently-sized globs of coconut oil in a pan, add the tempeh strips, and keep frying and flipping until both sides are golden brown. Pull strips out, (save the melted coconut oil for future frying!) sprinkle with salt and enjoy!!!

frying tempeh_1

frying tempeh_2

Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheeze

Ingredients:

  • Macaroni of choice – any kind will do! Of course, you can substitute regular pasta for gluten-free, just be sure to follow the cooking directions on the package precisely so as not to over-boil the pasta and cause it to turn to mush (an easy mistake to make when cooking gluten-free).
  • Vegan shredded cheddar cheeze – my go-to brand is Daiya! veg cheeze

Image credit: Daiya Foods.com

  • Coconut cream – Trader Joe’s makes a coconut cream that is very affordable.

coco cream

Image credit: Pinterest.com

  • Vegan butter – Earth Balance is my go-to brand for this.

veg butter

Image credit: Go Dairy Free.com

Step 1: Bring a pot of water to a boil for your macaroni.

Step 2: Cook your pasta.

pasta cooking_1

pasta cooking_2

Step 3 – sauce preparation:

Melt down coconut cream into a liquid over low-to-medium heat.

cheeze sauce_1

Add your vegan cheeze, vegan butter, nutritional yeast, and optional “tempeh gravy”.

cheeze sauce_2

cheeze sauce_3

cheeze sauce_4

Vegan cheeze can be difficult to melt down at first, so you’re going to need to use a whisk until it blends.

cheeze sauce_5

Keep stirring the sauce. If you find it to be too runny, add more nutritional yeast until the sauce reaches good consistency.

cheeze sauce_6

Add your cheeze sauce to your macaroni, and you’re ready to serve!

cheeze sauce_7

cheeze sauce_8

final

Image credit: Anna Mintz Photography

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