In a previous post we discussed some tried-and-true Chinese remedies for nosebleeds, conjunctivitis and burns. In this post we will continue to cover some simple and effective strategies you can use for sprains, strains and bruises.
Sprains and Strains
For the first 12-24 hours, Chinese medicine and Western medicine agree that the best thing to do is apply ice to a sprain or strain, to reduce swelling and inflammation. However, after 24 hours Chinese wisdom instructs us to start using warmth and herbal therapies to promote healing. The continued use of ice or cold therapies retards the flow of QI and Blood and impedes the healing process, so consider switching to a heat pack or other warming therapies after this time.
Effective remedies you can use at this time include:
1. Chinese herbal liniments such as Zheng Gui Shui (my favourite, pictured). Chinese grocery stores and herb shops have a wide selection of liniments to choose from. Liniments work by invigorating the Qi and Blood to promote healing and remove any blockages; they are topically analgesic to relieve the pain, and they also relax the tendons and muscles.
2. A tofu poultice. This is very effective for reducing inflammation. Mash some soft or silken tofu with a small amount of white flour (to bind) and spread it over a thin cloth (e.g. cheesecloth), then apply to the affected area. Apply a layer of plastic wrap or a clean bandage over the poultice to keep it in place and retain warmth. Leave until it is dried or the symptoms have subsided, and reapply as neccessary using a fresh cloth and fresh tofu. *Hint: This is even more effective if you mix in a little fresh grated ginger.
3. A taro root or potato poultice. Mash some cooked taro root OR potato with a small amount of white flour (to bind) and apply it in the same way as the tofu poultice described above.
4. A buckwheat poultice. This is great for pulling out water and reducing swelling (and thus pain). Boil buckwheat until it is very soft. Wait for it to cool, then apply it as a poultice following the instructions for the tofu poultice above.
A bruise appears after blood is forced out of the blood vessels and subsequently pools in the tissues, causing pain from the pressure of the extra fluid. So our primary aim is to move the Qi, Blood and Fluids. There are several simple ways to do this:
1. Vinegar - you can use any kind of vinegar as a wash over the affected area. This is very stimulating to the local circulation.
2. Alcohol - any kind. As with vinegar, you can use this as a wash to stimulate the local blood circulation.
3. Liniments - for example Zheng Gu Shui (as described above under strains and sprains).
4. Make your own simple liniment by steeping a handful of Hong Hua (safflower), and/or herb Dang Gui (angelica sinensis), and/or Ze Lan (bugleweed) in a litre of grain alcohol. You can use one herb invididually or a mixture, and you can buy these from your local Chinese herb store. A quicker alternative is to make a decoction of these herbs in water. You can use either the resulting liniment or decoction topically only to bathe the area.
If you are interested in making your own liniments, you can read: "Secret Shaolin Formulas for the treatment of external injury" by Qian De, or "A tooth from the tigers mouth" by Tom Bisio.
Thats all for Part Two.
Click here for Part Three - Bites and Stings
Click here for Part Four - Herbal Ice
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