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Very few people go through life without encountering some form of acute trauma at least once. Whether it be something expected (like an elective surgery or childbirth) or unexpected (like an accident or infection), the body needs time to heal and repair. Luckily it is very good at doing this job, especially when you already have a healthy lifestyle, but there are plenty of things that you can do to help it along!
Having all of the following around your home will make dealing with unexpected traumas more manageable; if you have time to plan before an expected one, even better. Of course, always heed your doctor's advice and only resume the activities listed below when given the go-ahead by the practitioners who know your health situation.
You can't build a house without raw materials like bricks and lumber, and your body can't rebuild damaged tissue without the nutrients found in food and beverages. However, digestion takes a lot of energy, so choosing easy-to-digest, nutrient-dense food will provide you with the greatest benefit. Be especially mindful of protein, calories, and water, and consider staying with liquids for a bit to take away the stomach's need to mechanically break down what you're eating. A few ideas:
- Bone broth: Truly liquid nutrition, bone broth can be drunk like a beverage and contains a variety of minerals, vitamins, and collagen that promote healing. It is very easy - though slightly messy - to make at home, but you may also find homemade bone broth at farmers markets or boutique stores. Shelf-stable bone broth at supermarkets is going to be the least nutritious and may contain more sodium.
- Blended, cooked vegetable soups: Vegetables are obviously very good for you, but in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), raw vegetables are difficult to digest. Lightly cook veggies and then puree them to make a creamy soup. Adding extras like well-cooked beans or meat to the mix will provide even more protein.
- Smoothies: Another way to get blended nutrition is through smoothies containing fruits, nut butter, protein powder (this is our favorite), and whatever else you'd like to add. TCM also says that cold temperatures weaken the digestive system, so let smoothies sit for a bit if they contain frozen fruits.
All of these are for foundational nutrition, but you should also listen to your body's own cravings. It may want something more bland like soggy oatmeal if the digestive organs need even more of a break, or something sweeter because that taste aids digestion. If you needed antibiotics, consuming probiotic-rich foods and drinks like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, or kombucha can help to replenish your microbiome.
Just as important as nutrition is rest. You will probably need to sleep more as you recover from a trauma, and you may find that you need to take more breaks (or even naps) throughout the day to let the body catch up. Ease into your normal activities slowly, giving yourself the grace to not accomplish as much in a given period of time.
Many traumas require rest initially but then do better with movement in the long run, which is something to discuss with a practitioner who knows the details of your circumstances.
Professional care can make a world of difference in recovery, and you may benefit from having multiple types of therapies.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture can aid in the healing process of any almost any condition, and building up Qi and Blood before an expected trauma is also a great idea.
- Physical therapy: Any trauma that impacts mobility should warrant physical therapy afterward to ensure that strength, flexibility, and mobility return to normal levels.
- Chiropractic: Falls, car accidents, and other traumas that cause the bones to shift out of alignment will very likely improve with chiropractic care. (In case you didn't know, chiropractors can manipulate almost every joint in the body, so there's no need to have a full spinal adjustment if that scares you.)
- Massage: Like acupuncture, massage puts the body into the rest and digest state where it prioritizes healing and can also loosen muscles that tighten after a trauma.
Each essential oil has its own unique compounds that create specific reactions in the body. There are MANY single oils and blends that can be useful in this arena - and you can easily make your own combinations as well - but these are some of our favorites.
- Frankincense: It's said that Young Living founder Gary Young went through a bottle of Frankincense a day. It is arguably the best oil for overall longevity and cell turnover and is often used in meditation and yoga for its grounding properties.
- Copaiba: This tropical oil is wonderful for overall inflammation.
- Peppermint: Peppermint is a multi-tasker! It can settle digestion, increase energy and focus, decrease Heat, and tingle like Icy Hot when applied to achy muscles.
- Thieves: The body's defenses can be lower when it is recovering from a trauma, so use Thieves to support the immune system.
- Lavender: Called the "Swiss army knife" of essential oils, Lavender is especially good for sleep, stress, and skin health.
Outside of essential oils, there are plenty of other supplements that can boost the healing process. For example, turmeric promotes circulation and decreases inflammation, and topical and/or oral homeopathic Arnica and Calendula ease wounds and burns. A Licensed Acupuncturist can also prescribe herbal formulas to correct any imbalances that may have occurred as a result of the physical trauma.
The body and mind are intimately connected, and if you do not feel like you are healing well, stuck emotions may be impeding your progress. If you know you experienced psychological trauma along with the physical, a therapist or counselor can help you work through it. Even if that's not the case, you may still have unresolved emotions. Are you afraid of not getting better? Are you angry at the situation that you're now in? While you don't want to wallow in these feelings, you do need to let yourself feel them and then appropriately process them, for instance by journaling, praying, or meditating. Sometimes getting rid of the emotional blocks is the missing puzzle piece to full recovery.
Did your trauma necessitate that you undergo anesthesia? Take pain killers? Receive steroids? While all of these are indispensable in the very acute stage, you may feel their effects afterward. Drinking warm water with a slice of lemon in the morning can be a gentle flush for your body, as can eating greens when your digestive system is ready. If you've mostly recovered and are feeling strong, you may want to look into a more intense detox if you're still feeling lingering effects.
Life happens, and when you're dealing with an acute physical trauma one of the best medicines is a positive attitude. Continue to do the things you love that are still within your capabilities, get outside if possible, and surround yourself with aspirational media. Accept kindnesses from family, friends, and strangers, and use the downtime in your recovery to relax. The body is miraculous in its ability to heal - as soon as you're injured a myriad of cells begin to work to get you better! - and most of the time all it needs is a little faith and patience from you. Do whatever you can to assist it, and look for any lessons the experience is trying to give you.
Kathleen Ketola is a Licensed Acupuncturist and the owner of Beachside Community Acupuncture. She loves providing affordable acupuncture to the residents of Addison, Dallas, and Farmers Branch, Texas, and educating the general public on how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat everything from pain to infertility to stress and beyond. Click "Book Now" at the top of this page to book an appointment or feel free to contact her at (214) 417-2260.