Battle Scars, Bruises & Balms
As I write this, forearms black and blue from the conditioning exercises we did in class the other day – feeling strangely pleased with them, they were hard-earned after all – it’s come to me that I haven’t often sought remedy for bruises, except, say, on three or four occasions when I’ve taken a really hard clatter to the face and ruined my dazzling looks. (Ouch! That’s pushing things a bit too far.)
So note here, I’m no connoisseur of contusions, doctor or shaman. What follows is assortment of salves you may like look at.
As ever research shows there are differences of opinion on the effectiveness, and even the validity, of certain treatments and so it is not the purpose of this post to debate them all here, although comments are welcome at the posts end.
Rather I’ll don the mask of authority and leave it to you to experiment and find which work best for you.
Apply icy pressure, pronto. The theory is if you can apply ice as soon as you can after blunt trauma, the cold will constrict blood vessels and help keep the bruise from spreading.
Recommended is wrapping the ice in a damp cloth, a dry cloth doesn’t transmit the cold as effectively, for no longer than 10 minutes to avoid a reflex reaction (known as the Hunting effect) where the blood vessels dilate and blood is again pumped into the injured area, causing further bleeding and swelling. Repetition is also advised, every two hours for 24-48 hours after injury.
Coldhot Comfort Cold and Hot Pack Can be stored in a freezer or heated in hot water to give penetrating warmth to soothe the aches and pains – and bruises!
Painkillers, Paracetamol/Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Aspirin. For best results follow the instructions for dosage that are listed on the label. Although anti-inflammatory, aspirin is not wholly recommended. Fine for pain, aspirin, as an anticoagulant, prevents blood from clotting as quickly, and may even cause blood to spread more extensively underneath the skin. So avoid aspirin until you are sure the bruise has started to heal.
The same has also been said of Ibuprofen, so you may want to lean towards the use of Paracetamol/Acetaminophen for bruises. However, please investigate further.
A warm compresses. Applying a warm cloth or heated pad a day or two after an injury helps disperse the extra red blood cells into the tissues. Merely hold the warm cloth in place for about 20 minutes, 3-4 times a day to aid blood flow and thus the removal of clots.
Apply a dab of zinc oxide. Zinc oxide cream is used for a wide variety of skin conditions (including nappy/diaper rash) and is said to reduce inflammation, as well as draw out infectious toxins and increases the healing process of your skin.
Try a little arnica. Seemingly this herb stimulates the production of white blood cells, which can help to clear bruising, as well as promoting fluid drainage and the release of toxins, thus reducing muscles soreness and pain. If you are taking arnica for muscle soreness, stay well hydrated to help flush the loosened toxins out of your body. And note: arnica is deadly in large doses, and shouldn’t be taken internally due to its toxicity. It is also advisable not to use it on broken skin as it can cause irritations.
Reach for vitamin C & K cream. Bruises occur more frequently in people who don’t get enough vitamin C. Well known for boosting immunity, Vitamin C helps rebuild collagen, which makes small blood vessels less fragile and helps reduce bruising. It also helps toughen up older skin.
As a preventative vitamin C certainly has some value, but as a curative you may like to consider vitamin K, which the body needs to break down blood and reabsorbs it, thereby helping fade the bruise and restoring the skin to normal colour. Vitamin K also strengthens blood vessel walls, making you less prone to bruising.
Become an oyster lover. Shellfish as well as beef and chicken are excellent source of zinc. This mineral may help keep blood cells from leaking out of the blood vessels following injury, according to Joseph Bark, M.D., chairman of the Department of Dermatology at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. You may also want to take a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement that contains zinc.
A Dab of Comfrey Tea. Comfrey and comfrey root have been used from very ancient times, and are considered in nature’s greatest healers. Modern researchers have discovered that it contains allantoin, a chemical that promotes skin repair. Allatoin is an ingredient in a number of commercial skin creams.
Healing vinegar (try also apple cider vinegar). Apply vinegar to the bruise using a cotton ball. Vinegar increases blood flow near the skin’s surface, so it may help to dissipate the blood that has pooled in the bruised area.
St. Johns Wort. This is known to have done wonders for bruises. The anti-bacterial and astringent properties make it apt for treating them. Add few drops of St. John Wort tincture to an organic oil or cream and apply it on the bruised area.
Believe it or not Cabbage… contains anti-inflammatory properties, which applied in emaciated form on bruises, or swelling, can help the healing procedure.
Parsley? Yes parsley, a herb which has an abundant supply of vitamins and works as a therapeutic treatment for the wound. Apply crushed parsley on the bruised area. Keep doing this till the blue or black marks disappear.
Pineapple Juice did the trick. When I had my last really bad black eye, I dabbed a cloth in concentrated pineapple juice every-so-often and I have to say that I found the results quite fruitful! (Sorry for that.) As nutritionally packed members of the bromeliad family, being high in the enzyme bromelain and the antioxidant vitamin C, both of which play a major role in the body’s healing process, this is a common treatment boxers use for black eyes. Bromelain can also be found in supplement form.
A soothing bath with Witch Hazel. Hardly a wicked witch, this remedy helps in circulation of the blood and in the healing process. The bark, leaves, and twigs of Witch Hazel are all high in tannins, giving this plant astringent property. Astringents are substances that can dry, tighten, and harden tissues. Witch hazel also contains procyanadins, resin, and flavonoids, all of which add to its soothing, anti-inflammatory properties.
Dit Da Jow. Aka Fall-Hit Wine. Oh, sage martial artists! You should know this one, an analgesic liniment rubbed into the skin, Dit Da Jow is often a martial artists unique blend of many aromatic herbs such as myrrh and ginseng, which combine to stimulate circulation, reduce pain and swelling, and improve healing injuries and wounds. Composed of cooling herbs to reduce swelling and inflammation as effectively as ice; and warming herbs that kill pain, promote circulation, and break up accumulations of stagnant blood and fluids, Dit Da Jow can be bought online and through martial artists catalogs or it can be directly obtained from a Chinese pharmacist or master.
In ending…a few days later. My bruises are gone – as quickly as they came, almost it seems – forearms and wrists and hands still tight and sore from the battering I gave them – and I didn’t use anything to soothe them except for some painkillers immediately after training followed by a soak in a sink full of cold water. More than this I have a hot bath every day and I’m sure this has aided the speedy disappearance of my bruises.
Fortunately as a practising martial artist I haven’t had too many problems in terms of injury and although I have a lot of bruises from time to time, I am, generally speaking, quite a quick healer.
Note here, however, we are not all the same, and should your bruises be especially large or dark, you might want to consult your doctor so that they can keep check on it, as very severe bruising can set up blood poisoning if left untreated – especially if you are a very keen trainer and bash them again.
For my part I mean to practise Wing Chun for as long as I am able, I mean to endure, and so continuity of training is very important in how I progress. I don’t want any interruptions or injuries holding me back.