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Embolism

General characteristics

General characteristics

Embolisms are clots of either blood, air (as in 'the bends'), fat, cholesterol, pus from bacterial die off, pieces of tumour or other debris that circulate in the blood and either partially or completely block a blood vessel. The resulting blockage may prevent blood from flowing to an organ such as the heart (heart attack), brain (stroke), lungs (pulmonary embolism) or legs (deep vein thrombosis). The emboli may travel in the arteries or veins.

Blood emboli often form in the veins (where blood flow is slower), forming into jelly-like clots which can pick up further debris and become quite large. It then circulates in the blood until it reaches a vessel too narrow for it to pass through and gets stuck causing a blockage. The organ or tissues will suffer damage through lack of blood and oxygen and parts of the tissue or organ may die and be beyond repair.

When a embolism blocks a vessel in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) the symptoms will be severe chest pain, difficulty in breathing, coughing, sometimes with blood present. Urgent action should be taken to dissolve the clot to prevent death or serious damage to the lungs. Fatty emboli form when pieces of plague break off from the inner walls of a damaged blood vessel and begin to circulate in the blood. Air emboli usually happen when a diver ascends too quickly from deep water. They can also occur as a result of a crushing trauma to the chest when air may enter the bloodstream or when air enters the blood during an operation. Emboli can also form after a bone is broken, bone splinters or fat may break off and enter the blood circulation.

Poor quality food intake, lack of fresh wholefoods in the diet, lack of exercise, obesity, heavy smoking, oral contraceptives, bone fractures and breaks, genetics, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases may all predispose to embolism formation. Obviously it is wise to rectify as many of these problems as you can to reduce the likelihood of embolism occurring.

Herbs and natural healing aim to reduce the chances of emboli forming and to thin the blood if you are prone to emboli formation.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Diet should be based on fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, sprouts etc. Consume at least 8-10 portions a day. In particular eat foods rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium (see 'minerals' in the natural healing section for more food ideas containing these nutrients).

Fresh carrot juice will provide plenty of calcium and magnesium for the day.

Fresh citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, grapefruits, oranges are all excellent foods for promoting healthy blood and circulation.

Avoid junk foods, sugary foods, salty, processed foods and too many starchy carbohydrates, all of which contribute to thicker blood and higher blood pressure.

Avoid all foods containing or cooked in processed fats and oils. Instead use cold pressed virgin oils and pure, unsalted butter.

If you are a heavy smoker or drinker , give up or cut right back.

Include plenty of blood thinning garlic, ginger, cayenne (chilli), black pepper and all members of the onion family.

Reduce your intake of red meats but increase your intake of oily fish instead for its building protein.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Cayenne (chilli) can be taken daily in medicinal quantities to help keep the blood flowing freely and prevent clot formation. Start with a quarter teaspoon in hot water 3 times daily as a preventative or when recovering from an incident.

Sage tea, drink it or rub on the affected area can dissolve congealed blood and clots. Use a teaspoon of dried sage in a pot with a lid and pour on enough water for one cupful. Stand for 5-10 minutes and drink hot 3 times daily. Sage is capable of safely dissolving clots without breaking them into smaller ones (which would continue to cause trouble whilst in circulation).

Hawthorn berry tincture can be taken in water 3 times daily for many years as a safe and effective heart tonic and helps to prevent blood clot formation.

Meadowsweet, ginkgo, cleavers, alfalfa, red clover, cleavers and nettle can help to thin the blood generally, improve circulation throughout the body, provide useful nutrients and prevent clot formation. Use equal parts of each herb and drink at least 3 cups daily.

If the embolism is of septic origin use the anti-microbials such as echinacea, myrrh, golden seal and barberry to increase the bodies ability to deal with the effects of the infectious material.

Fenugreek seeds help to thin the blood making it less sticky and is capable of dissolving and dispersong circulating clots.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Engage in regular gentle exercise such as walking, yoga, tai chi etc. Keep you blood moving!
Anything that encourages relaxation and relieves stress, such as massage, meditation, pampering bodywork etc. will be helpful.

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