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Awareness Magazine
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Tendons & Ligaments Need Special Care to Heal Completely

Sprained Ankles, Plantar Fasciitis, and Bruises

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 rebuilding.

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 the repair.

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 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  His blog can be found on