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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Herbs for an Injured Wrist

As promised some time ago, I will go into detail about how I used herbs to heal a badly sprained wrist.

I am not suggesting that you do the same. Always consult your medical practitioner if you have an illness or injury. 

If you are interested in using herbs for your own medical needs, please educate yourself first!
Herbs do not work the same way that drugs do. There's no easy replace drug A with Herb B chart. Nor should there be.

These are resources that I use and trust:
Read this first! 
- a free site. If you like what you see here, the monthly subscription site is well worth the price! It's at - 

I like the list of herbal books found on the Methow
Valley Herbs site, and any listed here will be a book that can be trusted. My personal favorite for the beginning herbalist is "Rosemary Gladstar's Recipes for Vibrant Health." There's nothing in here that can hurt you, and it's easy to get started with her

I've been studying herbs for 6 or 7 years now, and have become something of a kitchen table herbalist. I've  created a home health kit with a number of salves, tinctures and teas that I have made myself using recipes found in the good herbal references and the websites noted above. 

There are herbs that I use every day (ginkgo, hawthorn, and olive leaf) and those that I use as needed for coping with stress (skullcap, passion flower, or catnip - it depends on what's keeping me from relaxing.) 

I also have a few emergency herbs on hand for use in extreme, but not go-see-a-doctor situations (comfrey leaf, not root for injuries,  and Oregon Grape for infections.) I was quite proud of having purchased a bottle of California poppy tincture just in case I needed something for pain. OTC pain relievers are hard on the liver. 

My mistake was in storing the emergency supplies on the bottom of the stack of's hard to move boxes with one hand. And, I found that I could not open the sealed bottle of poppy tincture, so I did have to resort to the bottle of Advil that I had purchased on sale and with a coupon...just in case.

Along with frequent visits to my chiropractor the first 3 days to asses the damage and reassure both of us that no bones were broken, I did use ice to reduce the swelling. And I attempted to make a poultice with the comfrey leaves. That was messy, since my arm was bruised and swollen from fingertips to elbow. 

I finally just poured a cup of leaves and a kettle of hot water into a basin that was large enough to stick my entire lower arm into. After adding cold water to fill the basin I left it on the edge of the sink, and every time I passed by it, I stuck my arm in. I soon found that the cool water and comfrey slurry  was more comforting than ice packs. It worked wonderfully well to reduce the bruising and the swelling. 

Between soaks, I used a commercial arnica ointment that reduces pain. Over the course of the first week, I used a tube of the ointment, and a bottle of 24 Advil. 

Every day I went to work for 4 hours - a bookkeeper can't just take January off until W2s, 1099s and quarterly taxes are done. My chiropractor suggested using the fingers as much as possible. My typing speed and accuracy suffered, but the daily exercise kept them flexible. 

On the third week the bruising was gone, and the swelling  confined to the wrist and thumb joints. I added 2 products from a California herbalist, which I purchased here:

The Busted Joint Ointment and Elixir contain herbs that repair ligaments and tendons. They are amazing products and I will never be without a spare tin of ointment and bottle of elixir if I can help it. Yes, I could make my own version, but these are so nice, and work so well. I continue to use both as my wrist regains the range of motion that I thought I'd never see again. 

It's a slow process, but I am content that, at least for me, it has been the right choice. I am certain that had I gone to the fire station the morning I fell, I'd have wound up in ER and likely been sent to surgery. 

Many people think that's what I sh0uld have done. I'm content to take the slower, non-invasive and so much less expensive route.  

Healing should take time. I believe that one of the worst things about modern medicine is that we think it's normal to rush a recovery...have the surgery, take the "magic" pills, rush back into our daily lives. Our bodies know better. Give a hurt a chance to repair itself...follow the desire to just go to bed and let nature make the the healing process with sleep, nourishing food and healing herbs.

Don't force the body to heal. Allow it to happen. 


Sunday, May 26, 2013

I'm Back

On January 2nd I slipped on black ice and sprained my right wrist pretty badly. It's one of those injuries that would have healed in a couple of weeks when I was 20.  At 54 it's not been as fast or as easy.  As a result, I had to step back from some of my normal activities. 

It's only been a week since I was able to start the car by using my right hand to turn the key, and I'm really excited about that since that means I'm on the road to full recovery.

Instead of worrying about what I could not do, I've been taking the enforced rest as a gift of time and an opportunity to really think about a number of important issues in my life.  

When it comes down to it, do I actually believe what I say I believe?

And how do the answers to those questions affect how I live my life?

Immediately I was faced with 2 big life questions - one involving my health care choices and the other about my work ethic .

I was on my way to work when I fell. I'd actually driven because the weather was sketchy. I only stopped to run one errand, and I'd been careless.  Before I'd even managed to get to my feet it was evident that my dominate hand was swelling and that the level of pain I was feeling meant that I was going to have to seek help. There were no other people on the street, and there's a fire station 3 blocks away. I knew that I could get emergency treatment there...but I'd be passing my chiropractor's office first. 

Now, I worked as a nurse's aide in nursing homes and a rural hospital for many years.  I've passed both Red Cross and Wilderness First Aid courses a number of times. I know how to assess an injury. As I walked I made note of the fact that I could move all my fingers, they were warm and pink, and had excellent blood return. I wasn't bleeding, and there were no deformities that indicated a broken bone. I chose my chiropractor.

It was the right choice for me.  Others might have chosen differently, and it's certainly not for me to make that decision for anyone else. A fair number of friends and relatives thought I'd made an error in judgement. I disagree.

I was prepared to go to an ER if at any time I felt that "modern" medicine would have served me better. Again, I'm comfortable making that assessment. And my chiropractor was looking for reasons to send me to the ER because he doesn't want to be responsible for my making a bad decision. In this instance, his thorough examination (fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck and back) confirmed what I already bones were broken. It was an injury that could safely be handled at home. How I did that with chiropractic care, herbs and excercises will be the subject of another post. 

The point of today's ramble is that in the question of health care, I do actually believe and practice what I say I believe. The short version is that modern medicine is great - when it's needed. For most of life's ills and injuries it might not be the best choice for everyone. If you don't feel that you can make your own decisions about your health, then by all means find a doctor that you trust. 

But if you are like me and do think you are trained and capable enough to handle the situation at hand, then don't let the opinions of others sway you into heading to the doctor for their comfort. You have that option at any time. If you are always  assessing the situation to see that what you're doing is working, and that the situation is not getting worse, then I think self-care is a valid choice. 

The work ethic question actually caused me more discomfort with my beliefs. I'm the bookkeeper. January is not a good time for the bookkeeper to have a bum arm. 

On top of the routine day to day tasks that keep a company running, January brings quarterly tax filing, reports to unemployment and  other state and federal entities, and the need to get W4s and 1099s in the mail. 

And I don't like to call in sick. Taking pre-approved time off is fine. Calling in is unprofessional and causes others to have to do your work. Perhaps it's all those years in health care that have trained me to suck it up and go to work no matter how I feel.

This has probably been the one area where my beliefs did not hold up. I've come to realize that I was wrong about this first job is to take care of myself. 

Yes, people I work with were inconvenienced during the early days of my recovery.  It seemed to bother me much more than it did them. My supervisor came at my call to pick me up when I found that I could not drive.  Her daughter helped get my car to my house. Another co-worker faithfully picked me up for 2 weeks when the mornings were frosty and I was terrified of falling again. People helped out without my asking.

I worked 4 hour days for a whole week, then 6 hour days for another and used vacation time as needed. No one complained. I got the taxes and reports filed, W2s and 1099s out on time, bills paid and January payroll done. Much of the routine work did not get done until mid February. No one complained. Most of the pressure to be a "good employee" was coming from me. 

I'm working on changing that belief's a work in progress. I'll let you know how that goes...and I'll touch on the self-care I did in a future post, and even delve into the areas of religion and politics as time goes on and I am able to respectfully articulate the answers to those questions.

My Favorite Fiction Authors and Books

  • Suzanne Arruda- the Jade del Cameron mysteries: "The Mark of the Lion" "Stalking Ivory", "The Serpent's Daughter", "The Leopard's Prey" and "The Golden Cheetah"
  • Ken Goddard - "Balefire" and others
  • Stephen White - the Dr. Alan Gregory books are all great. "Kill Me" is my favorite.
  • Harlan Coben - anything he writes is great
  • Elizabeth Peters - Amelia Peabody mysteries

My Favorite Nonfiction Authors and Books

  • "Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature" by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown- 2nd edition coming soon!
  • Gavin De Becker - "The Gift of Fear"
  • "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales- the best survival book I've ever read! Not a how-to, its more of a who does,and why.
  • Candice Millard - "The River of Doubt -Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey"
  • Anything that starts with "Peterson's Field Guide To..."
  • Tom Brown, Jr. - "The Tracker" and others
  • Mark Elbroch - "Mammal Tracks and Sign" and "Animal Skulls"