Most of us have experience with inflammation, lymphedema, and vertigo. These are common ailments that can come up on their own, as a consequence of an illness, or as a symptom of an illness. In addition, most babies experience seborrhea or cradle cap.
It is easy to find medications to treat these conditions, but there are also ways to treat them naturally. I will start by describing each of these conditions, and then give some simple and even nature-based remedies to incorporate.
Inflammation occurs whenever there is an injury or infection in the body. Our bodies respond with heat, redness, swelling, and pain to trigger the body to repair the injury and/or fight the infection.
The inflammation site heats up as local arteries dilate, bringing an increase in blood flow to the affected area. The increased blood supply brings in white blood cells and other immune support cells, which help heal and fight infection. The resulting increase in heat, speeds up the metabolic rate of the cells, and produces a faster healing process. Heat may also hinder the activity of pathogens or microorganisms that infect the body. Redness also occurs because of the increased blood flow to the affected area.
Swelling occurs because capillaries in the affected area become more permeable, allowing more of the blood to come in contact with the injured site. Blood contains plasma, platelets, white blood cells, nutrients, oxygen, and others that have an active role in fighting disease and healing. An increase in permeability in the capillaries means more immune factors and nutrients can reach the affected area. The increase in fluid in the injured site causes swelling.
Pain results either from the toxins released by the pathogens, or by swelling. When the body tissues in the affected area swell, they press on nerve endings in the area, causing pain.
Remedies for Inflammation
Symptoms of inflammation signal the body that it should immobilize the affected area and rest, which help in the healing process. Rest is one of the best natural remedies we have for inflammation.
There are also many anti-inflammatory herbs that we can consume. We can consume turmeric Curcuma longa as tea, tincture, supplement, spices, or essential oil. We can also consume infusion, extract, tincture or supplement of burdock Actium lappa. Other herbal options include white willow bark Salix alba, echinacea Echinacea angustifolia, and ginger Zingiber officinale.
Eating a diet that has antioxidants, bromelain, and essential fatty acids provides great support to reduce inflammation. This includes eating spinach, blueberries, strawberries, onions, garlic, pineapple, papaya, and fish and seafood. Reducing processed foods, sugars, and salts is also beneficial.
Lymphedema is a short-term but severe edema or swelling resulting when a region in the body collects excess fluids (Marieb & Hoehn, 2013). It can occur when lymph flow is blocked due to surgery, infection, trauma, cancer treatment, or other serious condition.
The lymphatic system is responsible for returning fluids that have leaked out of the blood stream back into the blood (Marieb & Hoehn, 2013). When blood reaches the body’s tissues and exchanges oxygen and nutrients, it also releases proteins and other substances into the tissues. Lymphatic vessels absorb excess tissue fluid and drain them away through the lymphatic system (Campbell, 2003).
Lymphedema occurs because injury or treatment may have altered or removed lymphatic vessels and or lymph nodes, which alters the flow or removal of lymph. It results in swelling, skin tightness, or decreased flexibility in the affected areas.
Remedies for Lymphedema
Lymphedema can be supporting by good nutrition, such as by reducing intake of salt and fat; increasing fiber consumption through whole-grains, and higher amounts of fruits and vegetables; and drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol.
Incorporating herbal protocols that support the lymphatic system through anti-inflammatory, diuretic, alterative, and antiseptic actions is also recommended. Cleavers, Galium aparine, has these effects and can be consumed as capsules, decoction, fluid extract, infusion, juice, tincture or ointment.
Managing weight and doing 20 to 30 minutes of low-impact aerobic activity at least three time per week can also help. In addition, a person suffering from lymphedema should avoid further infection, as added infection could worsen the condition; not provide further strain to the affected area; avoid wearing tight clothing or accessories in the affected area, and instead wear comfortable clothing; avoid high temperatures, which could worsen the swelling; keep the affected area in an elevated position to encourage drainage of fluid; avoid lying on the affected side for too long, as this could further increase fluid accumulation in the area; take caution when traveling, particularly for long periods of time as a fluid retention is more likely to occur; and ensure the skin around the area is clean and moisturized.
Vertigo, or dizziness, is the sensation of being in motion or spinning when not that can often be accompanied by nausea and vomiting (Jasmin, 2012). There are two types of vertigo, namely peripheral vertigo caused by a problem within the inner ear, and central vertigo caused by a problem in the brain. I’ll focus on peripheral vertigo.
Possible causes of peripheral vertigo include injury, inflammation of or pressure on the vestibular nerve, certain medications, benign positional vertigo, labyrinthitis, and Ménière’s syndrome (Jasmin, 2012).
Remedies for Vertigo
Lifestyle changes can improve vertigo, such as decreasing fluids in the body with diuretics or low-salt diet, keeping still and resting, avoiding sudden movements or too much activity, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption, and practicing relaxation techniques through yoga, tai chi, or medication (Schwartz, 2011).
Holistic methods can prevent ear infections, including proper sleep and rest, as well as increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, good quality proteins, and whole grains, while reducing intake of dairy sugar, white flour, and processed foods.
Herbal recommendations include application of warmed garlic oil, clove oil, or warm mullein Verbascum thapsus oil into the ear. Antiseptic herbs are also recommended, such as burdock Arctium lappa, calendula Calendula officinalis, cayenne Capsicum annuum, echinacea Echinacea angustifolia, eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus, lemongrass Cymbopogon citratus, myrrh Commiphora myrrha, thyme Thymus vulgaris, and yarrow Achillea millefolium (Petersen, 2014). These can be used as teas, tinctures, extracts, supplements, and essential oils.
Seborrhea or cradle cap is a result of overactive sebaceous glands on the skin, and first shows up as pink lesions that gradually turn yellow or brown and produce oily scales. Sebaceous glands produce sebum, which is an oily substance that lubricates and softens skin and hair (Marieb & Hoehn, 2013).
In infants, cradle cap is a fairly common condition, and an estimated 70% of infants suffer from it. The infection happens in areas where sebaceous glands are the largest and most prevalent, which is on the face, neck, upper chest and back, and scalp (Berk & Scheinfeld, 2010).
Remedies for Seborrhea
In infants the situation often resolves itself, but it can be treated with a mild shampoo daily and brushing the baby’s scalp with a soft brush to soften the scales.
We can incorporate lifestyle, dietary, and herbal remedies, all of which provide simple remedies, for common conditions like inflammation, lymphedema, vertigo, and seborrhea. As with any type of remedy or treatment, make sure to consult a healthcare practitioner, not only to ensure the remedy is right for you, but also to ensure you are consuming the right product at the right dose.
Berk, T. & Scheinfeld, N. (2010). Seborrheic dermatitis. Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 35 (6),348-352. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2888552/
Campbell, J. (2003). Campbell’s Physiology Notes for Nurses.London, England: Whurr Publishers Ltd.
Jasmin, L. (2012). Vertigo-associated disorders. Medline Plus- Trusted Health Information for You.Retrieved on April 23, 2014 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001432.htm
Marieb, E.T., & Hoehn, K. (2013). Human Anatomy & Physiology (9thed.). Glenview, IL: Pearson Education.
Petersen, D. (2014). ACHS NAT501 Anatomy & Physiology I. Portland, OR: American College of Healthcare Sciences.
Schwartz, S. (2011). Meniere’s disease. Medline Plus- Trusted Health Information for You.Retrieved on April 23, 2014 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000702.htm