Sunday, 29 January 2012

Bruises, how, why and healing

Bruises are a fact of life, from stubbing a toe to knocking an arm. I am the worst for badly bruising my fingers, don't know why, but I seem to be good at big swollen black fingers and normally have at least 1 bruised finger every few months. This month as part of mt apprenticeship I have been looking at elder bark for bruises, however my favorite herb for treating bruises is fresh chewed golden rod leaves. This favorite almost came by accident, In the beautiful spring day eve Last year. I was splitting wood in the garden and got my pinkie (little finger) a treat within minutes it was 3 times the size and a deep purple and black in colour. I had read about Golden rod somewhere being good for bruises and as it was the first thing I saw, I picked a few leaves had a good munch and put the spit poultice on my finger, I left it in place for a good 20 mins wrapped in gauze. My finger was very sore and throbbing, but after an hour the swelling had started to go down.. It was the next morning when I had completely forgotten about the incident when it popped into my head, surely there should be pain still, low and behold my finger was normal in size and the bruising almost completely gone with no pain what so ever. My friend who was staying at the time was completely astonished for she had seen the severity of my poor bruised pinkie ( she had suggested I go to get it x rayed just in case I had broken it). This was the time she realised my love of herbs wasn't poppycosh, but they really could be helpful. I have since made double infused oil from golden rod leaves and flowers, both together and separate, but found these a lot less effective, so from personal experience it really is best to use fresh leaves. I have also used elder bark oil, yarrow oil and a few other herbie concoction, but the fresh golden Rod always comes out on top. Yes my children and friends still think I am a crazy herb lady, but they can see it works so use the concoctions themselves.

A bruise is formed when there is significant trauma to the surface of the skin, blood vessels in the skin burst and bleed, thus producing swelling and colour. In order to explore brises we need to first look at the skin and its properties, The skin is the largest Organ of the body consisting of two main layers the epidermis (outer layer) and the dermis (inner layer) The thickest parts of the epidermis are on the soles of the feet and the palm of the hands. There are no blood vessels or nerve endings in the epidermis, these are found in the dermis which are bathed, like most cells, in interstitial fluid ( the fluid that allows substances such as oxygen to pass from the internal transport systems to the cells). The outer layers of the Epidermis are constantly being replaced however complete replacement of the epidermis takes about a month. Dermis is strong and elastic, It is formed from connective tissue. The structures in dermis are blood vessels, lymph vessels, sensory (somatic) nerve endings, sweat glands and hairs.
The skin is a relatively waterproof layer which protect the more delicate structure, It acts as a barrier against, invasion by microbes, chemicals, physical trauma e.g mild trauma, ultra violet light and dehydration.
Trauma to the skin produces an inflammatory response, Its purpose is protective to isolate, inactivate and remove the causative agent and damaged tissue so that healing can take place. The signs of inflammation are redness, heat, pain and swelling. The first response is increase blood flow to the traumatised area, This is caused by the local release of a number of chemical mediators from damaged cells. The appearance of a bruise changes over time, and you can tell how old a bruise is and where it is in the process of healing by observing its color. Generally, your skin should look normal again in about two to three weeks after an injury.
When a bruise is brand new, it will appear reddish due to the color of the blood that leaked from the capillaries under the skin.
At one to two days old, a bruise will take on a bluish or purple color. The swelling at the site of the bruise will cause oxygen to be cut off, and hemoglobin, the substance that carries iron in your blood, will turn blue.
At six days old, a bruise will turn a greenish color as the hemoglobin breaks down and the area begins to heal itself.
At eight to nine days old, a bruise will then turn yellow or brown. This is the final stage in the body's re-absorption of the blood.
Hence I was very surprised when my little bruised pinkie was perfectly fine within 15 hours.

Many other herbs can be used to treat bruises, Arnica is a favourite for many , often used as a homoeopathic remedy or a cream ( however shouldn't be used on open wounds) Many midwives recommend it to lady's before and after birth to help reduce bruising during the birthing process.
Finlay Ellingwood MD recommends in the absence of arnica, echinacea may be applied "which stimulates an active capillary circulation and promotes recovery. Yarrow is also a well know herb for healing wounds bruises or open, in the field it was know as "soldiers woundwort" according to A Modern Herbal , by Mrs Grieves.


  1. brilliant, informative and pretty in pink! Kaz

  2. Lovely article, Carlie - I really like all your personal experience stories!

  3. How wonderful your experience with goldenrod leaf! Thank you for sharing it. Wonderful post, Carlie xx

  4. Wow, so much to learn. Great piece & very interesting read. Thank you for sharing so generously, I really enjoyed reading all.

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  6. Beautiful post. I use arnica all the time - I keep it in my purse. It saved my son from having surgery when he broke his arm.