Last weekend I did a spectacular backwards somersault off a mountain path, much to my son’s delight. Luckily I came to a halt before reaching the sheer drop, my fall being broken by several Bilberry bushes which were thankfully very springy! Apart from a slightly sore neck and shoulder the next day, there was no harm done, but it did make me think about how I’d have made sure I healed quickly if I’d really hurt myself. Of course, I’d have used herbs!
Herbs For Broken Bones
Most people don’t think to see a Medical Herbalist for help with recovering from sprains, strains or broken bones, but herbs can be really helpful. As well as helping a person to deal with the shock and trauma of an injury, they can significantly reduce the healing time. A 2018 study found that Comfrey root provided useful antioxidants and helped skin cells to regenerate more quickly (1). However, concerns about levels of a constituent called Pyrollizidine Alkaloids (PA’s) have meant that UK based Medical Herbalists can no longer use Comfrey root. The leaf is also very effective and safe to use externally in creams, oils, or poultices (2)
Comfrey’s other common name is ‘Knitbone’ because it was well known for speeding up the healing of broken bones. Bonesetters used to poultice fractures after they’d been reset, and provided that there were no open wounds, the bone would heal very quickly from the outside in. In North America, Native Americans would sometimes use a different herb, Boneset in the same way. Herbalist Matthew Wood describes Boneset as working in the opposite way to Comfrey, healing it the bone from the inside out. When a bone breaks each end releases chemicals which help it to reconnect it with the other. Boneset appears to aid this process, although it also contains PA’s. Despite an independent research project on the safety of PA’s being completed by the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, Herbalists are still divided about the risks and benefits of using these herbs even in the short term for tissue healing.
Another option, without PA’s, is Elder. This is a common remedy in Asia, and becoming more well known in the west thanks to Herbalist Stephen Buhner. Elder is being increasingly used by Medical Herbalists to treat Osteoporosis too. It’s freely available throughout the UK, but needs to be prepared in a specific way before use as it could make you sick otherwise!
Besides the damage to the bone itself, herbs can help to regenerate the surrounding tissue and any nerves affected by the break. Of course it’s important to get any fracture examined and reset in hospital before seeking herbal treatment, but even if we can’t apply herbs directly to the site, they can be taken internally to encourage quick and easy repair. Breaking a bone can make a person feel generally unwell for a while, so herbs can be used to treat the individual symptoms that they are experiencing at the time.
What To Do If You Break A Bone
So if you’re ever unfortunate enough to break a bone, and need to get fixed as soon as possible, get in touch to book a mini appointment once you’re out of hospital. Longer treatment programmes are also available to help you if you suffer with osteoporosis, so if that’s you, book a free call to find out more.