As a Herbalist and Licensed Massage Therapist I have seen many people transform their lives after injury through a natural approach to their healing. This is not always an easy path, as it takes determination, trust and consistency. Healing won’t happen overnight in most cases, but we can focus on the goal to ease our suffering with body aches and pains in the meantime.
Not only will Massage itself help with body aches and pains, massage is well known to help with circulation and the flow of Lymph throughout the body. Your lymphatic system is responsible for creating and storing white blood cells to help combat diseases and infections that can affect the body. You may notice swollen lymph in your neck when you have a cold, this is your body's response to an infection and is typically a good sign, though it can cause some discomfort. Here are some Herbs that can help the function of the lymphatic system and in turn help boost your immune system.
Cleavers is an herb that you may find popping up in your garden or near moist streams and rivers. A good way to identify this plant is by its square stems and velcro like leaves. An easy way to consume this plant is by using a premade tincture or fresh in smoothies. When I take this herb, I often imagine their little prickly fingers helping to gently massage the inside of my lymphatic system, moving out waste and allowing the white blood cells to go where they need to go. This is a wonderfully cooling herb that will help reduce swelling in the lymph and can be used internally and topically on the affected area.
Redroot is another cooling and antiinflammatory lymphatic that can help with drainage of fluid from stagnant and congested tissues. Red root can help to treat benign cysts and will help to reduce swelling in affected areas of the body. Redroot is often thought of as an anti-infective agent, but it is not, and would need to be combined with other herbs that can fight off the infectious diseases that may be the root cause of such a problem. Since red root is a bitter herb and it can reduce portal vein congestion, it is sometimes used in small amounts to help with the processing of fats when you may have overindulged at dinner. Red root is used as a tincture, capsule, decoction/tea, in syrups, and can even be used topically as well. There are some contraindications with this herb, do not use 2 weeks before or after surgery, do not use it if you have a blood clotting disorder, use with caution if you are pregnant, nursing or going through chemotherapy.
Alder is a tree that you will often find growing along rivers and streams in Humboldt County and beyond. Alder is mostly white when you cut the bark but just wait a few minutes, the bark will turn red. Surprisingly Alder seems to pop up in cleared forest land and places that may need remediation. Alder is not only lymphatic but it is an antimicrobial medicine that can help with swelling and inflammation in the body and topically on the skin. Alder is astringent and you can make a strong tea of the bark and you can soak your feet in this to help reduce swelling after a long day standing or hiking. The Alder catkins are high in protein and are edible; they are considered a survival food. The bark is most commonly used to create tinctures for internal use, but the whole plant is medicinal.