The Faster-Healing Formula

After a car accident, a sports injury or even a lifting strain at work, there are certain nutritional supplements that will help the healing process and facilitate chiropractic adjustments. When patients come to see me after a severe injury, they are experiencing pain and inflammation. While the adjustment is paramount to the patient’s speed of recovery, the soft tissue damage will impede the response. I can try all I want to adjust their vertebrae, but their muscles are not going to let me. I’ve found the sooner my patients can start taking the supplements, the sooner they will recover. I recommend supplements because, unfortunately, when you’re injured, you can’t usually get enough food to give your body what it needs to make it a therapeutic dose. The supplements may also be available in combinations at your health food store.

Stopping inflammation

One of the least beneficial things you can do for your injury is to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. While products like Tylenol, Advil and Ibuprofen stop inflammation, they also stop the healing process. They block the entire cascade inflammatory response system that naturally occurs in the body. When you injure yourself, you want the body to send nutrients to the area. The natural alternatives you can take are bioflavonoids and proteolytic enzymes.

Bioflavonoids are plant compounds that give plants their color and are found in fruits vegetables and certain tree bark. They make oranges orange, blueberries blue and cherries red. They are powerful anti-oxidants that help injured bodies cope with oxidative stress. Proteolytic enzymes, especially bromelain (found in pineapple), have also demonstrated to be effective anti-inflammatory agents. They work to digest the protein by-products of inflammation.

Relieving pain

Nutrients that will help ease pain during an injury are ginger, turmeric and natural oils such as those found in fish, evening primrose and borage. Commonly used for inflammation and digestive disorders, ginger and turmeric have also proven to alleviate symptoms of pain in the joints. Essential fatty acids, found in fatty fish and some plants, help regulate a number of biological processes, including blood-clotting, blood pressure, heart rate, immune response and the body’s reaction to pain.

Rest and relaxation

To help the muscles relax and to get a better night’s rest, there are several nutrients to take without having to resort to drugs: Calcium, magnesium, valerian root, passion flower and kava kava are all natural remedies that improve sleep quality and relieve insomnia due to anxiety and pain. These herbs and minerals have a calming effect on the nervous system and in order for the body to heal itself, it needs adequate rest. They are to be taken only as long as necessary.

Long-term health

For ongoing nourishment of damaged cartilage and ligament tissue and for a healthy production of collagen, you should regularly be taking: bioflavonoids and vitamin C, glucosamine sulphate/HCL, zinc and manganese. Bioflavonoids help build collagen and aid in the absorption of vitamin C — one of the most powerful nutrients in enhancing the immune system. Glucosamine sulphate/HCL, compounds derived from sea shells, helps in the synthesis and maintenance of connective tissue and cartilage growth around the joints. Zinc and manganese are also critical nutrients in immune mechanisms.

Foods to avoid

Especially after an injury, avoid all caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of protein, such as you find in red meat. Caffeine and alcohol will dehydrate the body when you really need to be able to flush out your system. (During this time, you should also be increasing your water intake to 80 ounces per day.) Caffeine also makes your muscles tighter and tenser. Consuming too much protein will render the proteolytic enzymes ineffective, as they’ll be busy digesting your food and not the protein by-products of inflammation.

Once my patients follow this nutritional regimen, it makes the adjustments that much easier to do. They don’t have the same trigger-point response. Their muscles are relaxed and it doesn’t hurt to get an adjustment. The rate of healing becomes 10 times faster. It’s remarkable.

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