Most of us experience aches and pains from time to time and we regard them as nothing more than an annoyance. Your body’s inflammatory response, however, works as a natural warning system, telling you that all is not well. Swelling and stiffness restricts movement and use of the affected body part, thereby protecting against further injury, while giving you a chance to recover.
The injured part of the body may feel warmer due to increased blood flow to the area, which speeds up the metabolic rate of surrounding cells, helping them go into ‘repair mode’ more quickly. Placing ice on it actually slows down the initial part of the healing process. All of these reactions – swelling, pain, stiffness, heat, and so on, develop for a reason. Swelling and stiffness in a joint, ligament, or tendon, reduces movement in the area because it cannot heal properly without adequate rest.
During the initial healing phase of an injury, the swelling and increased blood flow essentially ‘holds the area together’. Reticulin, a type of tissue that is produced to protect and hold together an area of broken fibers, is secreted quickly to facilitate healing. Once the reticulin has been released, collagen fibers are then released to make the structure strong and stable again. The healing process itself helps to explain why over-use injuries are so common. The body requires time to heal and if you ignore your body’s warnings these symptoms worsen, forcing you to pay heed.
While icing is often advised and can help break the cycle of chronic inflammation, it’s actually not a bad thing to let the body do its thing for a while to heal naturally. To help with the initial healing phase, you can try using a natural tonic that promotes healing from within. You can even drink it a couple of times a week in the absence of any injuries, just to minimize the risk and severity of injuries. It also enhances the functioning of the immune and circulatory systems.
Juice of ½ a lemon and the skin (be sure to buy an un-waxed lemon for this, as the skin contains many more nutrients than the juice and pulp alone!)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (red chili pepper)
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ inch grated ginger
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
- Juice the lemon and pour the juice into a pan
- Add all of the other ingredients, including the skin of the lemon, and pour in ½ cup of hot water
- Simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes
- Remove the lemon skin and pour the liquid into a mug
- Add a teaspoon of honey if needed to sweeten
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