Tendons & Ligaments Need Special Care to
Sprained Ankles, Plantar Fasciitis, and
Can All Benefit from a Few Herbs
By Steve Frank
Tendons attach muscles to bones and Ligaments hold bones and tendons
in place. Fascia guides muscle groups and allows them to slide over other
structures. They all have a few things in common. Predominantly, they are all
made up mostly of collagen. This means when they get damaged or excessively worn, they need to be
repaired by fibroblasts.
Fibroblasts are like little elastic-tissue factories in your body that
combine a couple of amino-acids with a vitamin C molecule to produce collagen.
Fibroblasts are controlled by an
enzyme produced in your liver when
it is told to do so by your
brain. Your brain takes the clue from pain in a region to determine that it is
time to turn-up the fibroblast activity.
When you pull or strain a ligament, mash/stretch or damage a tendon, you often get micro-tears in the tissue. The tissue may not be torn in half or may not even be pulled completely from the bone. But it will require collagen repair to
regain its full strength and be able to handle full tension. When the damage
occurs, there is local pain and inflammation. This acts as a signal to your
brain to have the liver produce more of the enzymes used to increase the
activity of the fibroblasts (those little collagen factories). These collagen
factories produce materials to repair the damage.
Taking anti-inflammatory drugs inhibits this process and although it
feels good, limits the extent of the repair. Advil, steroids, and NSAIDs fall
into this category of making the injury hurt less but stopping the natural
repair process. If you must take pain pills, it is best to use acetaminophen products like Tylenol to control pain. These don’t stop the inflammation
process that is critical in keeping
the collagen production going.
In most injuries, there are little
blood clots that form in the connective tissues. These micro-obstructions block
the flow of nutrients and vital repairing constituents to the region. These blockages inhibit the repair. As we age, more of the small micro-capillaries in these
tissues are also blocked with plaques. Massaging the damaged tissues can help
clear these blockages. There is however, a great deal that can be gained by
applying some simple herbs to the region.
Arnica Montana is a lovely yellow
flower that grows in the Rockies blooming in late July. Its name means, “lamb-skin
of the mountains” because the leaves are as soft as lamb-skin. There are
other types of Arnica (about four) and they are all quite useful, but this is
predominantly what we have here on the Front Range. Enzymes within Arnica
break-up micro-clots in damaged tissues and are very enabling in the healing
process. Also, it contains constituents called prostaglandin blockers that
relieve pain. When this is
combined withthe natural salix
of White Willow bark, the pain relief is terrific. Of course the ability to break-up micro-clots means that your bruising will dissipate far faster
and you will get greater flow to the region.
Comfrey and Plantain contain a
constituent called Allantoin which actually stimulates the fibroblasts (little
collagen factories) and gets them to produce more collagen. By continually
applying this to damaged tissue (ligament, tendon, fascia or bone) the process
of repair will continue… for as long as you keep applying it. If you apply these two herbs to a soft tissue
injury for 4 or 6 weeks, a very complete repair can be generated long after the
pain and inflammation are gone.
Rosemary and Thyme increase circulation when it is applied to
tissues and Witch Hazel increases flexibility. This is very
important when healing tissues as the area can hold residual trauma. Residual trauma immobilizes portions of muscles and
this increases the load on adjacent fibers and puts them more at risk of
damage. The increased circulation allows more nutrients to the cells that are
If you put all of these herbs together
with a little vitamin C for collagen production and a little peppermint leaf
for soothing, you have a wonderful combination to facilitate complete healing
of soft tissues. You can make a water
decoction of these herbs and
apply them to the damaged area several times per day or put the decoction in a gel so it can be easily applied and
rubbed into the skin. This will make your damaged Tendons, Ligaments and Fascia
as-good-as-new after an injury and will actually reduce recovery time dramatically.
Knees, ankles, wrists, elbows, shoulders… You name it, they will all benefit. The
important thing to remember is to use it long after the pain stops to complete
Support the repair process by oral administration of vitamin C, D, E and A. And don’t forget to stay
away from anti-inflammatory
meds. They terminate the repair process prematurely and you won’t need them if you use these herbs.
Note: This combination of herbs
in a water-based decoction, gelled and ready to treat can be procured from Nature’s
Rite, LLC at www.MyNaturesRite.com It is called Bruise-Strain-Tear Repair.
Steve Frank is an Herbalist from the Front
Range of Colorado with many years of experience in treating musculo-skeletal
injuries with indigenous plants and herbs. He has studied the actions of these
natural remedies in the clinic and the laboratory so that he can bring you the
best that science and ancient wisdom have to offer. Frank can be reached with questions at stevef@NaturesRiteRemedies.com His blog can be found on www.MyNaturesRite.com