First I suppose I should explain why I am writing about this topic. It just so happens that I was forced to learn more about natural remedies to use when dealing with a injured knee due to personal experience. I had recently been incorporating more walking and some running into my routine to recover my body from recent physical and mental stress. All the pieces of the puzzle were in place, great new shoes (which you will see in the pictures below) to accommodate my fallen arches and over-pronation and a routine that was just intense enough to get my physical body back into shape after some health challenges while giving me some much needed mental focus and relaxation. All that being said this was still a strain on my body and I could feel some tension in the medial (inside of the leg) ligaments in both my ankles and knees. This has been a recurring problem for me in the past due to my posture while exercising and compensating for the extreme pronation in my feet (tendency for the weight to roll to the inside of the foot). I thought that in time my body would adapt and strengthen as needed, then it happened…
I was merrily going about my evening relaxation routine, lounging in comfy clothes and getting ready to wind down with a good book when my kittys were anxiously waiting to come inside for dinner. At this point I was actually singing aloud some silly song I had made up about the cats coming in for dinner and I as I came up the two steps from our sunroom completely in another world of joyful delusion boom I hit the floor! Remember that part about the comfy clothes? well I was wearing a pair of sweat pants that albeit extremely cozy were about three sizes too big and too long consequently I tripped on them with all my weight landing on my left knee. At the time my merriment turned into a comical cry but I really thought nothing of it and picked myself up, along with the plant that suffered some damage on my way down, and continued on with my evening feeling some mild discomfort that faded by morning.
As I am often guilty of doing I went on with my exercise routine as planned and ignored the lingering pain in my knee until it got to the point where the swelling was unbearable and I could barely walk without a limp.
Finally I made my way to the doc’s office and she confirmed either a mild tear in my MCL (medial collateral ligament) or a severe strain and prescribed a combination of rest, anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals. and supporting my knee with a brace until pain had subsided and the ligament was healed. Never one to give into medical convention I threw out the prescription for the anti-inflammatory drugs and my mind began racing of how I was going to heal this naturally with diet, supplements, home remedies and figure out a way to adapt my workout routine to accommodate an injury. So here’s what I did….
A friend and colleague mentioned that in Iran her family has used a traditional method of healing injuries to joints and bones with a paste made from egg yolk and tumeric. Being a nutritionist and lover of any natural home remedy I was very excited to try this and found amazing results. So simple and inexpensive this is a fantastic remedy to reduce swelling and inflammation, relieve pain, and speed the healing process.
All you need is one egg yolk, I used organic omega 3 eggs, and about 2 Tbsp. of tumeric powder, again I used organic tumeric to get the most healing benefits (in fact I use only organic spices to retain the potent healing properties often lost in traditionally processed irradiated spices, but that will be a topic for another post!)
Simply mix the egg yolk and tumeric into a paste and apply to the affected joint (do not apply to broken skin or open wounds).
I suggest doing this over a towel you don’t mind ruining and using some gloves. I learned this the hard way after cleaning up stubborn tumeric stains from our kitchen floor and having bright yellow stained hands for a good part of the day!!
Then wrap the joint with a cotton cloth to cover, an old t-shirt cut into strips works best (organic white cotton is preferable to avoid dyes etc. penetrating the skin) and follow up by wrapping with a tensor bandage to give the joint some extra support.
You can leave this on for as long as possibly comfortable. When at home I left it on all day, worked out with it on, and even wore it under my pants when out and about seeing clients. When you are ready to remove the bandage I suggest doing this outside to avoid tumeric egg yolk crumbles all over your floor and bath tub, again a lesson learned the hard way. Your skin will be a glorious bright yellow hue, but don’t panic this will wash off in the shower and fade over time.
On the advice of my mother who always has home remedies for anything that ails you, I also took epsom salt baths daily with an added boost of a product called Alka Bath, which is a detoxifying mineral bath salt combination with semi-precious stones and by far one of my favorite products ever! After the baths I followed up with a castor oil massage on the affected knee, again on the advice of my wise mother. These treatments significantly helped with the pain, discomfort, and swelling phew!
In addition to an already 80-90% raw, extremely clean diet I wanted to add some specific nutrients that support joint and ligament health, specifically vitamin C, zinc, amino acids, and foods with anti-inflammatory properties. I went through my fridge and pantry and found some great foods that contain high levels of these nutrients and focussed on adding even more of these into my daily routine. Here are some of the gems I already had in my kitchen to aid my healing…
Pumpkin seed oil, which is high in zinc (this raw pumpkin seed oil is made from Styrian pumpkin seeds which is the best I have ever tasted, the actual raw Styrian pumpkin seeds are super yummy too!!) goji berries, golden berries, and red peppers all extremely good sources of vitamin C, bee pollen which is an excellent source of amino acids as well as a whole host of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes necessary for healing (Honeycombe Botanicals has the best bee pollen I have ever tried!!) , coconut oil which has amazing anti-inflammatory properties, and raw cacao which also has significant anti-inflammatory properties and an abundance of antioxidants necessary for healing.
As well as incorporating these foods I also have either a green juice, super smoothie or both daily, which is always a part of my routine but even more important when in the healing process.
A typical green juice for me might include…
organic leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, arugula or other baby greens
organic parsley or other herbs such as dill or cilantro
organic freshly squeezed lemon juice
a pinch of sea salt, himalayan salt or Herbamare
and here’s what’s in my super healing smoothie…
1/4 cup Vega One
1/4 cup Sun Warrior Raw protein
1-2 tsp. Amazing Grass Superfood Greens (one of my favorite greens powders)
1 tsp. MSM powder (this helps with inflammation and pain)
1 tsp. of Vitamin C powder to aid healing
1-2 tsp. of Wurzelkraft (another one of my favorite superfood products which contains all the vitamins and minerals present in the body)
1 cup distilled water
And for the supplements.. here are a few of the things I added…
You will notice that I mention supplementation last because I strongly believe that natural supplements are wonderful additions to any protocol but they should be secondary to a healthy diet and lifestyle modifications. The supplements I have chosen to add to my healing regime are mainly to reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness in my knee and provide a combination of proteolytic enzymes and essential nutrients needed to heal and remineralize the tissues in the knee joint.
I am also a huge fan of using homeopathic remedies to stimulate the body’s natural self healing process….
Traumeel and rhus tox were the right remedies for me however, you should always choose homeopathic remedies based on individual symptoms and it is best to consult a homeopathic practitioner to find the best remedies for your constitution and manifestation of symptoms.
And lastly this is how I modified my workout routine…
At first I could barely put any weight on my left leg so I thought this would be the perfect time to work on upper body conditioning and core strength. Before my workout I made sure my knee was supported properly with a tensor bandage and flexible knee brace, which is very important to prevent further injury (although I do not have the extra brace on in the picture below as my knee was feeling pretty good that day).
Then I used a combination of pilates and yoga mat exercises combined with upper body circuits with high reps and low weight done in a seated position. My traditional workouts, prior to injury, generally consisted of more functional fitness type moves with compound exercises but in this case I had to draw on my old school knowledge and figure out a way to get in cardiovascular training and strength conditioning without the use of my whole body. Once I could put more weight on my knee I also incorporated upper body cardio moves, boxing style which really got me working up a sweat. In the end I had some pretty fierce workouts without the use of my lower body, my core and upper body are very grateful for the experience.
So what did I learn from all of this? I definitely have reinforced a sense of confidence in my body’s own ability to heal, which has never failed me. I have learned that sometimes you need to be pushed out of your comfort zone and routine to learn new things about yourself and what you can achieve. I have learned that I have a culinary medicine cabinet in my kitchen just waiting to be called upon if needed and I have all the tools necessary for making self healing home remedies, with the exception of eggs and a few extra supplements, right in my own pantry. One of the biggest realizations was understanding that the importance of appropriate time for rest and time for movement need to be acknowledged, I suppose the Universe will keep reminding me of this lesson until I get it right! And finally for the most important lesson, retire those baggy sweat pants…I haven’t worn them since, boxer shorts and a warm blanket have become my new comfy cozy.
Michelle Waithe, BaSc., RHN, PTS Holistic Nutritionist at Fuel
The organic food movement has found a secure footing amongst the sea of conventional produce but some people may not be fully convinced about the benefits of organic food and what it really means. People often ask me why they should spend more on organic produce, with the argument that just eating more fruits and vegetables is a big enough jump in their efforts to realize a healthier body. Skeptics have a strong voice in questioning organic claims with good reason, as the average consumer is bombarded with conflicting messages about food on a daily basis. We are all too familiar with the concept that something is good for us, as advocated by one sounding board, only to be discredited by another such authority. From a holistic point of view avoiding any artificial chemicals in my food is reason enough for me to choose organic but there may be some other convincing evidence to sway your vote towards the organic campaign.
“An organic product is an agricultural product that has been certified as organic. A product can be certified if it is produced using the methods outlined by the Canadian Organic Standards.”
“Products that make an organic claim must be certified by a Certification Body that has been accredited, based upon the recommendation of a CFIA designated Conformity Verification Body. The Certification Body must certify the product to the Canadian Organic Standards.”
The purpose of such definitions is ensure regulation so that the consumer is confident that they are getting what they pay for and not being mislead by false claims. Now, the purpose of this is not to conjure up ideas of conspiracy theories or make people weary about the validity of organic claims but rather to remove the mysticism of organics and inform you about why they are the healthier choice from a nutritional stand point.
All the buzz about eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables is due the ability of phytonutrients to protect the body. As it turns out this makes perfect sense when you understand the role of these powerful compounds as part of a plant’s infrastructure. Besides adding beauty and wonderful aromatic qualities to our food, phytonutrients play a much larger role, they are actually the immune system of the plant. Phytonutrients help plants fight off invaders through a carefully orchestrated combination of releasing odors and parading saturated pigments that discourage pesky critters. So how does this all tie in with organic vs. non-organic? Simply put, when plants are sprayed with pesticides they are given an ‘artificial immune system’. If there is no threat from outside invaders due to a cloak of chemical protection, then there is no need for a plant to develop its own natural suit of armor in the form of additional phytonutrients. While these are still present in plants sprayed with pesticides, otherwise produce isles would be filled with colorless, odorless heaps of plant matter, the optimal level of phytonutrients is never developed because there simply is no need. You can liken it to a child whose parents never allow them to be exposed to ‘germs’, they will often have a weakened immune system over their life span because it was never given the chance to fully develop at an early age. So when you are eating blueberries for their beneficial blue pigment from the anthocyanin group of phytonutrients, you are getting much more for your money savoring an organic blueberry and believe me you will taste the difference too!
If you are not yet completely convinced that organic produce is better for you and the planet then at least start off by avoiding the ‘dirty dozen’ when it comes to conventional produce. The dirty dozen is a list of the top 12 most sprayed fruits in vegetables which, in my opinion should always be bought organic
For a complete listing of pesticide levels in foods and other prominent health and environmental issues the Environmental Working Group is an excellent resource.
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is a wonderful way to improve your health and fuel your body but if you want to reap the most benefit organic is the only way to go!
Wishing you a fresh, nutritious, and delicious day!
Michelle Waithe, Holistic Nutritionist at Fuel