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Frostbite

General characteristics

General characteristics

Frostbite means that the tissues and flesh have quite literally been frozen.
As the extremities (nose, fingers, toes, cheeks and ears) become cold, the blood vessels constrict reducing blood supply to them in an attempt to direct and conserve heat around the abdomen and vital organs. The blood vessels to the extremities will then periodically dilate to bring fresh warm blood to them, then constrict again to preserve heat. If the exposure to cold continues, the brain will sense impending hypothermia and will constrict the blood supply to the extremities for longer and longer periods so that cold blood from them is not returned to the abdomen. This is when freezing of the tissues occurs.
The freezing of the tissues can cause lasting and more permanent damage, depending on the severity of the cold and the duration it is suffered for. It causes the blood vessels to freeze and burst their contents into the surrounding tissue, which also freezes. Often cells are destroyed completely but they may recover with gentle and careful warming. Sometimes more damage occurs on thawing as the broken vessels further leak blood into the surrounding area leading to painful inflammation. Complete cell death for long periods can lead to the need for amputation.
Frostbite can be described in degrees; first degree affects the skin only, with no lasting damage; second degree means deeper damage of the layers of skin and causes blistering and darkening of the skin; third degree presents as complete penetration and freezing of all layers of the skin and causes cell death.
Warming should be done very gradually and never by exposing the skin to direct heat.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Keep your diet fresh and wholesome, rejecting all processed and junk like foods.

Include plenty of foods to boost circulation such as onions, garlic, chilli, ginger, mustard, radish etc.

Foods that are rich in vitamin C help to speed up the healing process and also help heal the damaged blood vessels too. Fresh blackcurrants, kiwis, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit etc. could be consumed daily in a freshly squeezed juice until full healing has taken place.

Avoid smoking and alcohol as these both lessen blood circulation.

Many foods are also good at healing skin when made into a poultice. Uncooked cucumber, potato and radish can be blended or mashed into a paste and applied to the skin to help heal the frostbitten skin.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Bathe the affected parts in a warm tea of comfrey leaf, myrrh and horsetail for their potent tissue healing action. Use a teaspoon of each in a mug of boiling water and when cool enough, apply liberally to the skin with cotton wool or a soft cloth

A tea consisting of rosehips, nettle, sage, chamomile, peppermint and a pinch of cayenne will provide many helpful nutrients and promote effective blood circulation. Use equal parts of the dried herbs (except the cayenne) and drink up to 3 cups daily. Don't scrimp on the cayenne though as this will get serious bloodflow to where its needed.

Make a paste to apply to the skin using a handful of mullein flowers and boiled marshmallow root with some olive oil. Simmer the marshmallow root for 10 minutes to soften it then whizz both in a blender or mash in a pestle and mortar. Make into a paste consistency and apply twice daily to the affected skin parts. Marshmallow root is a very efficient healer of skin and tissue that has been damaged by freezing or cold.

Fresh or high quality shop bought aloe vera gel is excellent at healing and preventing infection.

If the healing process produces nerve pain then drink st johns wort tea 3 times a day, a teaspoon per cup.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Keep the affected body parts gently moving regularly to encourage good circulation to the area when you feel in danger of becoming frostbitten.
An effective poultice can be made by mashing a raw onion into a paste-like consistency and applying to the frostbite. This is an old tried and trusted remedy from the Norwegians.
Dip or bathe the affected parts in distilled witch hazel several times a day.

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