More than twenty years ago, I got a call from a coworker. Anita had two daughters, ages six and ten. Shayna, the ten year old, had broken her arm in a roller skating accident five weeks before and it had not begun to heal. It was a clean break just above the wrist. The doctor was talking about doing exploratory surgery if the arm wasn’t on the mend by the following Friday and Anita was concerned. Why wasn’t it healing on its own? What could they do in a week’s time to help Shayna’s body begin to mend the bone? She was filled with questions and concerns.
Anita came by for tea the next morning and we spoke about some of the possibilities. I’m a big fan of using nutritious foods for helping the body heal itself. I suggested she should learn more about eating sea vegetables for their amazing healing capabilities. They are considered to be some of the most nutritious foods on Earth. She could buy kelp or dulse granules or flakes in the bulk section of our local co-op and put it in a grated cheese shaker. “Just shake a bit on everything Shayna eats, except maybe ice cream”, I suggested. “Because sea vegetables taste salty, they’re great on popcorn, rice, mashed potato, veggies, salads and sandwiches. You can cook with them too. Give a good shake or two into whatever you prepare for dinner each night.”
“That sounds doable”, Anita responded. “What other foods could help?”
We discussed dark leafy green vegetables. They are nutritionally dense, quick and easy to prepare and actually taste good. “My daughters both love kale,” I told her.
“Really? I can’t get my girls to eat kale, or any other greens, unless it’s hidden in soup or a casserole. What do you do with it?” she asked.
“I put it in most of my soups and casseroles, too. But we have at least one dark leafy green dish most evenings. In an iron skillet, I melt about a tablespoon of butter or coconut oil. Then I toss in three or four cloves of chopped (local organic) garlic. Remember to crush it with the side of the knife before chopping. This releases the healing benefits found in garlic. Mix with a wooden spoon. Mollie always loved to do this part for me. Then I add finely chopped kale and a tablespoon or two of water, and cover it with a tight fitting lid. Turn the heat to low and simmer it about seven minutes. Once the pan is removed from the heat, I squeeze a little lemon juice or just a tiny splash of umeboshi vinegar on top (or sometimes we choose another delicious vinegar), and viola, everyone loves it! ”
“We hear a lot about dairy products being good for our bones. But we’ve had a 50 year advertising campaign lying to us about what the research really showed. It’s best not to believe all we hear. Truth is,” I explained “according to some very large studies, when we drink just two or more glasses of milk daily, we increase our risk of osteoporosis, as well as hip and arm fractures. Yogurt and kefir are fermented milk and according to the research, fermented milk is the ideal way to get calcium and other nutrients from dairy products right into our bones.”
Anita smiled. “I once had a nurse try to explain that to me! I thought she was nuts.”
“Yeah, it’s hard to undo what we’ve heard and believed all our lives. Here’s another one. You want to eat yogurt with as little fruit or sweetener as possible, Most of those products in the grocers that are labeled as yogurt are nothing more than fancy sweet pudding.” I told her. “You want to taste the sour of the fermented milk. And we should all eat organic whole milk yogurt. The fat is all good fat; good for the brain, skin, cardiovascular system, etc. Try yogurt with cucumbers and fennel or curry powder.” I suggested. “Or try a little cinnamon with a few nuts or seeds sprinkled on top.
“And speaking of nuts and seeds; that is actually the next category of food that’s perfect for helping the body mend bone. When we eat nuts and seeds, we should ALWAYS choose organic. [This is more important than ever in 2008, as many non-organic nuts and seeds these days are irradiated, genetically engineered, roasted with rancid oils, etc] Soaking them overnight makes them even more nutritious and it becomes much easier for our bodies to digest and utilize the nutrients. And soaked nuts and seeds are delicious, too!”
Anita knew about sprouting. She and her daughters grew several types of sprouts regularly. But she hadn’t realized that soaking nuts and seeds overnight begins the sprouting process and therefore increases the goodness contained in these delicious foods. (For people with milder food sensitivities, this process can often help to reduce or eliminate any negative reactions.)
I asked Anita if she and her daughters had ever used comfrey salve or comfrey tincture. She said they had put a comfrey and St. John’s wort salve on bruises, cuts and scrapes. “I actually learned about it from you a few years ago,” she told me. “You suggested it when I burned my hand on a hot frying pan and it turned into a big puffy blister. You told me about St. John’s oil, but the co-op was out of it, so you mentioned the salve was probably the next best thing. It worked wonderfully. We’ve been using it ever since.”
I explained to her that, according to more than a thousand years of medical evidence, comfrey strengthens bones, skin and joints, and speeds healing. But it’s not legal for me to suggest anyone take the tincture or tea orally; although it’s very helpful to apply comfrey salve to the affected region. You can also add some extra comfrey tincture to the salve or just apply a few drops of tincture directly onto the skin, then rub the salve right over it.
I told Anita about my friend, Cassie and the tiny kitten she had recently rescued from a stray cat in the neighborhood. The young kitten fell three stories from between the rungs on the deck. Cassie rushed the kitten to the veterinary hospital where she was told her seven week old kitten needed thousands of dollars worth of surgery, or else they should consider putting her to sleep.
Cassie decided to bring the kitten home and I met her there. We made up a batch of comfrey tea and the kitten licked the bowl dry. Over the next two days, the kitten refused her organic wet kitten food, but licked the bowl clean every time we offered her a tablespoon or two of comfrey tea. We also soaked a washcloth in the tea and placed it around some of the kitten’s injuries.
I explained to Anita that they could also make a comfrey compress for Shayna’s injured arm by making tea, soaking a washcloth in it and applying it to the affected region just above her wrist. I also mentioned that this was helpful for sprained ankles, sore necks, elbows, knees, shoulders and even broken ribs. She said that with such active girls, that would likely be valuable information!
“Another way to use comfrey these days,” I offered, “is to use the homeopathic remedy, Symphytum Off. This is the Latin name for comfrey, and it’s a legal, safe and effective way to ingest comfrey. In fact, it is widely used in Europe for sprains, strains, fractures, broken bones and many other types of injury, as well. I usually look for the strength called Symphytum Off. 30c, but any strength can be helpful.”
Anita asked what other herbal teas could help. She reminded me that her daughters, like mine, enjoyed herbal teas, hot or cold, most afternoons when they got home from school. I told her that most green leafy teas would be high in minerals and good for her daughter’s healing process, with nettles and horsetail being considered very beneficial for bone health. They could also enjoy all of the following; alfalfa, lemon balm, raspberry, thyme and peppermint. Ginger tea may also be helpful for circulation and inflammation.
Knowing that Anita and her girls were strict vegetarians living busy lives, I suggested they may want to reduce or eliminate most soy products. I asked if she understood that unfermented soy had anti-nutrients, meaning that many soy foods may actually impede our ability to utilize macro-minerals, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. I explained about the nutritional benefits of fermented soy foods; miso, natto, tempeh and tamari (traditional soy sauce). For additional details, please check out: The Great Soy Debate.
Exercise is essential for bone health, and prevention is the best medicine, of course, for broken bones. Strong, supple bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles must be strengthened through regular movement, preferably an activity that brings us joy or satisfaction. Once we have an injury, it’s important to learn how to properly exercise during the healing process.
Relaxation, yoga and breathing exercises can also be helpful. Anita and her daughters frequently took yoga classes at our community center. I suggested that they spend twenty minutes a day doing simple yoga and deep breathing at home to support Shayna’s recovery. She was certain that the girls would love that idea!
About a week later, I got a call from Anita. She wanted me to know that they had visited the doctor and had Shayna’s arm x-rayed just six days after our talk over tea. She gushed as she exclaimed, “The doctor told us Shayna’s bone has almost completely healed! He wanted to know what we had done differently. He was very impressed.” She added, “I told him he should talk to you! I even gave him your card.”
Maybe he’ll call me someday.Home | Back to top--^