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!

Embracing and Reversing PCOS – The Beginning of a Journey

Hi! My name is Anna. 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 enjoying my job assisting with the social media pages, and in particular, the LH blog.

I am a young woman in my early twenties, who has been struggling with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome since puberty. What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a reproductive disorder that affects individuals of all ages.

I turned 22 years old last month. Of my 22 years, I have only been menstruating for 6 of them. That’s right – I did not start menstruating until the month before I turned 16 years old – this makes 6 years on the nose. I always sensed that there was something “off” about my reproductive organs, as I noticed all the young women around me – at school, church, what have you – begin to start their first periods, while mine never showed itself. Upon my first period, I remember being joyful that it had finally showed up, and I was glad to start having regular cycles so that I could finally “join the club”. Unfortunately, this did not happen. My period didn’t show up again for another 7 months. I took comfort in the fact that “it takes a while to adjust when you’re young.” The irregularity continued into the spring of the next year, when my cycle took a turn for the worse. I remember it being very heavy – heavy enough that I was constantly wearing thick, “overnight” sized pads and soaking at least 5 or 6 of them in a day. This continued on for longer than a menstrual cycle should last. I believe once it was over it had totaled out to be around 20-30 days. I was convinced that I was hemorrhaging and would surely die. My mother, a seasoned veteran of PCOS herself, told me that this was, unfortunately, characteristic of this disease, and as long as I wasn’t in extreme pain or passing out from blood loss, that I would be fine. She was right. A few weeks later, the bleeding subsided and I went to the gynecologist for the first time, where I had a pamphlet on PCOS thrown at me along with a prescription for birth control pills.

Fast-forward four years, and several extremely vague “diagnoses”, and you have me at age 20, still convinced that I had to take the pill out of medical necessity because I was always going to have this problem. It wasn’t until I was working as a retail associate for one of the top naturopaths in the country that I began to realize that I didn’t necessarily have to accept my illness as a chronic condition that I would always suffer from. It was then that I made the decision to go off the pill and begin the journey towards managing the illness and reversing the symptoms with natural, holistic remedies.

And no, to answer your question – the issue of infertility still had not crossed my mind. In my opinion, there is enough emphasis on how to reverse infertility that is associated with PCOS, and there are not enough resources for women like me, who suffers from “lean” PCOS (more on that in our next post) and couldn’t care less about whether or not childbearing is in my future. This is in no way meant to shame anybody for wanting to bear children, nor is it meant to spark a debate about procreation. What I am saying here is that, in my particular case, I found that there was hardly a community I could surround myself with of people who want to reverse their illness for one reason and one reason only – to be HEALTHY for themselves and only themselves. To rid themselves of painful, cystic acne, embarrassing hirsutism, to know that their reproductive parts are working correctly, and YES – sometimes because they genuinely WANT to experience healthy, plentiful menstruation purely because it’s a sign of health and vitality. Enter this blog. This is not intended to be some flowery, pastel-pink public venting journal about how we’re all only to care about plying ourselves with enough pharmaceutical medication to be able to produce children. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve researched a medication or supplement that I’ve considered taking only to be greeted with Google results that read “____ for fertility” or “_____ to help conceive”.  My goal here is to take individuals affected by this disease with me on my journey towards healing. If you are skeptical of alternative medicine, you may be shaking your head, wondering how this is going to turn out in the end. You may be scorning me from the other side of your computer, tablet or smartphone, thinking “but what happens when it doesn’t work?” Well, luckily, that’s been my biggest fear in beginning this journey. Yes, I said luckily. I’ve been blessed to go into this knowing that it could result in the realization that quite possibly none of the therapy, supplements or lifestyle changes that I’m about to implement will take effect. What I do know that I’m going to gain from this is an understanding. A deeper understanding of my illness will result from incorporating things that may work, and ruling out things that don’t. I now refuse to ignore the fact that this illness exists within me, and instead have faced it head-on. Here it is, and here I am. Together, we will face the challenges, roadblocks, small victories, and I’m sure many, many tears that are to come over the course of this journey. Thank you for joining me. I’m glad you came.

Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment… Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life – and see how life starts suddenly to start working for you rather than against you. Eckhart Tolle

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

Muscle Therapy, Massage Therapy, Well Being