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Bruises

General characteristics

General characteristics

Bruises (also called contusions or ecchymosis) occur when blood vessels are injured and rupture the blood they contain into the surrounding tissues. The skin at and around the bruise will be tender to touch and at first appear reddish or purple then fade to blues, greens then yellow as the blood is cleared away by normal body repair systems.
Bruising can occur from a blow to the skin, through vigorous exercise or as a result from an internal bleed. They occur more regularly in the elderly as skin and vessels become more fragile but can also signify a deeper problem like liver disease if they occur without an external cause such as a fall or bump. They can result from taking blood thinning medicines such as aspirin and warfarin, haemophilia, vitamin K deficiency and from steroid use.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

If you are prone to bruising or to speed up healing then eat a well balanced diet including plenty dark green and leafy foods like broccoli, kale, cabbage, alfalfa sprouts, seaweeds, etc and all other foods and herbs containing vitamin K. Vitamin K encourages blood clotting factors which means vessels will bleed less on rupture and clot quicker.

Foods that are rich in bio-flavanoids and vitamin C are also very useful as they increase the strength of blood vessels and decrease bleeding time so include as many as possible in the daily diet. These include all berry fruit like bilberries, blueberries, black and red currants, grapes, cranberries, strawberries, the citrus fruits, kiwis, sweet peppers, apples and legumes amongst many others. See also'vitamins' in the 'natural healing' section of this site for more foods containing vitamin C and bio-flavanoids.

Lemons are full of vitamin C and bioflavonoids. A useful drink to help strengthen capillaries and blood vessels is made by cutting 6 organic lemons (leaving the skin on) into small pieces and placing them in a pan with 2 pints of water. Bring to the boil then take off the heat. Cover and allow to cool and steep overnight in the fridge. Next day pour the whole lot into a bottle with a lid and strain off 2-3 cups daily. Store in the fridge.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Mash up a fresh comfrey leaf or make a simple poultice using dried comfrey leaves wilted with hot water and place over the whole area of the bruise. Replace every few hours or so. You can also add a teaspoon of soaked calendula (marigold) petals to this poultice for even better results.
Arnica tincture is another useful herb to heal bruising. Soak a pad in the tincture and place over the bruise.
Make buckwheat, elderberry and alfalfa tea ( equal parts) and drink a cup daily if you are prone to bruising. Buckwheat contains a substance called rutin which strengthens the walls of the blood vessels and alfalfa is rich in vitamin K.
Make some hyssop tea using a teaspoon of the herb and bathe the area with it. Hyssop is particularly beneficial for black eyes. Other useful tea washes include yarrow, st johns wort, boneset, rue, buchu and fenugreek seed powder.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Ice compresses help to calm inflammation and alleviate pain. You can also alternate between ice packs and a hot water pack if the bruise is a result of a twisted ankle for example. This hot and cold treatment can bring rapid relief from pain and inflammation and greatly enhances the body's own natural healing processes.
Soak a cotton pad in apple cider vinegar and hold over the bruise for an hour or so to speed up healing and help ease pain and inflammation.
Or you can do the same with distilled witch hazel to shrink the tissues around the bruise and speed up healing and ease inflammation.
Soak a normal teabag and place it over the bruise to reduce inflammation and speed up healing. Especially good for black eyes.
Soak the affected area in very salty water, using sea or mineral salt, to alleviate swelling.
Use cabbage leaves as a poultice. Soak a cabbage leaf in hot water until it wilts then apply to the bruise warm.

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