Preparation & Recovery
Most of us will face surgery at some point in our lives. Natural remedies can help you plan and prepare, which will ease pain and anxiety. Even if there is an emergency and you are not able to prepare for surgery, you can still use these strategies to help you recover successfully.
Clean out your digestive system
Do a day-long fast (no other foods but plenty of water as well as taking your regular medications) of a smoothie made of raspberries and carrot juice a day or two before your procedure. This will clean out your intestinal tract and help you return to normal, healthy digestive function post-surgery. Prepare another raspberry/carrot juice smoothie as your first meal post-surgery. It will stimulate the intestines to recover from the effects of anesthesia (which intentionally stops all normal movement of the intestines to minimize surgical complications). Drink 8-16oz daily after your procedure until you feel like your bowels are moving normally. This is not an appropriate tool for a diabetic because of the sugar content of the smoothies.
Take probiotic drinks, foods or supplements with ALL meals/snacks after a surgical procedure. Continue daily once your bowels are moving well and your digestion feels normal Continue for about 10 days after you have finished taking all prescription pain medications and antibiotics.
Soak your feet
It is very helpful to soak your feet in a foot bath with tincture of chaparral (Larrea tridentata) after any intake of anesthesia and painkillers. Daily foot soaks with ½-1 teaspoon of chaparral tincture in the water is a very effective way of removing the residuals of these medications from your system. Anesthesia also has a longer-term effect of causing dry mucous membranes, itchy skin, dry mouth, brittle hair and nails and vaginal dryness. Footbaths for 3-5 days generally resolve these side-effects. If you start to taste the chaparral in your mouth or smell it in your urine, it’s time to stop using it; your body doesn’t need it anymore.
Use castor oil, arnica, and ice
First and foremost, follow your medical practitioners’ advice about wound care. In addition, apply castor oil and arnica topically anywhere there has been trauma, but no open wound. Arnica can be applied as often as is needed to reduce pain locally. Castor oil (or our Repair, Daytime, or Nighttime salves) should be applied twice a day until the tissues are strong again. Icing painful or inflamed areas allows soft tissue to expel waste and to enable good nutrition to get to areas that need repair. This can be repeated as needed, and once your pain is manageable, continue applying both 2xday to speed up healing. Once your stitches have been removed and the wounds are completely closed, you can use the arnica, castor oil and salves on the scars.
Castor oil Packs for Liver Congestion
Medications, immobility and the stress of surgery often leads to liver congestion and bloating in the belly. A safe, quick, and comforting way to get the liver moving and working better is with a castor oil pack.
Put a thick layer of castor oil over the area of the belly where the liver sits (the upper right-hand portion of the abdominal cavity, beneath the ribs). Cover with a dense cotton or wool cloth.
Put a heat source (electric pad etc.) over it with moderate heat, comfortable enough to leave there for 30-60 minutes at a time.
Repeat 1-3x per day.
This will open up the tubules of the liver which get clogged with byproducts of medications. Look for dark and sticky stools; these are normal if the castor oil is working properly. It looks similar to blood in the stools, but it’s just old, dirty fats clearing from the liver. Applying the oil and heat to the entire belly is an excellent way to ease any cramps in the belly/digestive system and can safely be used over the lower back and belly as long as any open wounds are closed and stitches are removed.
Post-Surgical Scar Tissue Management
Much of post-surgical pain is associated with dense, tugging scar tissue at or near incision sites. Once your incisions are closed and stitches are removed, apply castor oil packs daily over the scars and/or surgical area. You can add arnica to the castor oil before or after you remove the heat if there is pain in the area as well. For dense, keloid scarring, a clay pack over the scarred area followed by rubbing a little castor oil generally softens and flattens all scars. Applying a few drops of castor oil and rubbing it in well twice a day over scars is also effective, but packs work better.
Use our Injury Kit
All the components of our Injury Kit are designed to repair wounds/injuries and manage pain without medications. Tissues which are intentionally injured during surgery respond to this just as well as injuries from closed wounds and accidents.
Drink Green Smoothies
Smoothies with lecithin, flax seeds/oil, any fruits you love, freeze-dried greens, natural sweeteners, and probiotic powder are an excellent way to add easily digestible minerals and vitamins to your diet. Your body will need these in higher quantities in order to repair tissues and recover quickly from surgery.
*Depending on which surgery you receive, you may need to be careful about ingesting too much fiber. Make sure to follow your doctor’s dietary instructions.
Aches and pains before and following surgery and the inactivity required during the entire process respond well to therapeutic baths. You can take baths to prepare for surgery, as well as after a procedure; make sure your doctor has cleared you to bathe!
Mix a handful each of sea salt and baking soda (both are generally sold for cooking) in a bathtub. Set the water at a comfortable temperature and soak for about 20 minutes. Move and rub any areas of your body where you are aching/sore or know you have congestion while you are in the water. Rinse off with clear water. Apply arnica, castor oil and/or salves on clean, dry skin after your bath. This will also relieve muscle cramps, as it is good for balancing electrolytes and hydrating the system. If mobility issues prevent full-body bathing, consider using a small pan and soaking only your feet, as this is an excellent way of removing water-based waste products from the entire system.
Massage & Acupuncture
Before and after surgery we generally have overall body pain due to the way we change our movements to ease pain. Therapeutic massage and acupuncture can be excellent tools to get you back on track. They are excellent complements to occupational and physical therapy.
Cascara Sagrada for Constipation
Constipation is a common side effect of morphine and anesthesia. If the raspberry/carrot juice smoothies don’t quickly resolve your constipation, take 2 capsules of Cascara Sagrada (available at most natural health stores) at bedtime with a small cup of water. If your bowels don’t move by morning, you can up the quantity to 3-4 capsules. The stools will be a little darker, but should be hydrated and easily passed. Continue by weaning down on the number of capsules until you can skip doses and still have regular, morning bowel movements.
Brown Rice for Poor Appetite
Cook up a pan of brown rice until it is very soft, use no salt or other flavoring. Make sure you use good quality filtered water. Eat in ¼ to ½ cup servings, drinking water, broth, miso and diluted juices for hydration until a normal appetite returns.