Sticks and Stones Can Break a Bone
Almost all broken bones, when correctly assessed and set, will heal up just fine. The human body is beautifully outfitted to create and lay down new and healthy bone, provided there is adequate nutrition and absorption of nutrients. Right near the break, the healthy bone will start to manufacture different kinds of cells to promote healing. Osteoclasts will take away tiny bits of bone at the site and reabsorb the calcium salts into the blood. Osteoblasts will mobilize substances to actually do the repair of knitting the bone together.
Typical healing time is about six weeks, but some bones take longer. Those that have less circulation to them, such as the neck of the femur (thigh bone) and the inferior aspect of the tibia (ankle portion of the large leg bone) can take a bit more time. It’s important to note that healing a fracture can take considerably longer in people that smoke; the compromised circulation of smokers is to blame and can greatly affect not only the length of time but also the quality of the bone healing.
Homeopathic help for fractures
Because most fractures heal well and cause few symptoms once the bones are set and cast, in most cases, no homeopathic remedy may be indicated at all. For those that need more specialized help with a fracture, a naturopathic doctor can take a full history of their current complaint and aim to understand it in the context of the whole person. Naturopaths pay close attention to symptoms of the fracture, but also to mental and emotional symptoms, and physical general symptoms such as body temperature, food desires, thirst, temperament, etc.
Natural bone healing remedies
Below are the more common homeopathic remedies used after an acute fracture. Each remedy also has many other applications in practice. Keep in mind that a person could need any one of a much larger number of remedies. NDs have to match the patient and their symptoms to the best possible remedy at that moment in time.
Arnica: Arnica brings down pain and swelling that accompanies any injury or wound, and it works best when given as soon as possible after the injury.
Hypericum: A good remedy for fractures to areas that are rich in nerves especially the fingers and toes. Hypericum can help when there is great pain in those areas attendant to a break.
Bryonia: This remedy might be indicated some days after the accident, when the shock and trauma have passed but any motion brings on tremendous pain. The person wants to stay perfectly quiet and still to help prevent jarring. The person is usually irritable and cranky, and prefers to be left alone.
Calcarea phosphorica: This remedy is the first to come to mind if, after an appropriate amount of time in the cast, an X-ray shows that the bone healing has not come as far as it should have. Those needing it tend to be irritable, restless and in a sour mood.
Eupatorium perfoliatum: The common name for the plant source of this remedy is “boneset” and the remedy is indicated when there is deep or aching pain at or near the site of a fracture. Eupatorium might be indicated at the time of the break, but also some weeks later if the pain has persisted. The person may also have general aching in the body, even in areas distant from the break.
Ruta graveolens: This remedy is known to help cure bone bruises and for the healing of injuries to the periosteum—a rather dense, fibrous material that covers bones and is the place that tendons and muscles attach. When a bone breaks, these areas are also impacted, and the bruised painful feeling can remain. People needing Ruta tend to be restless.
Symphytum: The common name for the plant source of this remedy is comfrey (also “knitbone”), and the remedy is best known for helping broken bones rejoin and heal. Some homeopaths give it routinely after a bone is set, and is also has a good effect when pain remains in older, already healed fractures.
Healing nutrients: Many nutrients are needed for healing, including vitamins A, E, C, K, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper, so a high potency multiple vitamin-mineral is recommended. Bone broths are excellent for the bio-available nutrients and lots of high calcium foods like dairy and leafy greens help aid healing. If for any reason a person has a deficient diet, due to lack of knowledge, eating disorders, compromised access to healthy food, or difficulties absorbing nutrients (perhaps from mal-absorption syndromes, inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis, or other causes), additional guidelines on diet and supplementation can be given. Proper nutritional intake and absorption are key to timely and complete bone healing.
Amy Rothenberg, ND, is the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, 2017 Physician of the Year, a licensed naturopathic doctor with offices in Enfield, CT and Northampton, Massachusetts. For information about The New England School of Homeopathy’s new class starting in Western Massachusetts this fall, see nesh.com. For information about Dr. Rothenberg’s practice in Enfield, CT, nhcmed.com.