By Patrick Jones, DVM
Warning: Contains graphic images of wound healing. But they get better. :)
I received an email from a gentleman in Februrary. He had seen my post about Miracle Max and wanted to know if I could help his wife. We'll call her Susan.
Susan had had a mass removed from the top of her head. The surgeons had taken a large circle of scalp and left nothing but the bone underneath. Because of the size of the defect, closing the wound was not possible.
The proposed solution for this problem was to take a large skin graft from Susan's bottom and graft it to the scalp. While this certainly would have covered the open wound and solved the problem, it would have left poor Susan with a permanent hair style like Friar Tuck, two painful surgeries and a large scar on her bum. Susan and her husband suddenly became very interested in alternative medicine and no wonder.
They asked me if herbs might help the wound to heal without surgery. I said that I'd seen worse cases and that it was certainly worth a try. I made some recommendations of herbs I thought would be beneficial to support the body in healing itself. Susan and her husband got the herbs and faithfully followed a regimen of daily herb poultice use.
The big player here was comfrey. In addition to soothing mucilage, comfrey contains a chemical called allantoin. Allantoin is a strong stimulant of cell division and thus accelerates healing. In my experience with veterinary patients and human clients, comfrey use decreases healing times measurably.
The body, when given the nutritional and herbal support it needs, has remarkable healing power and Susan's body was no exception. The wound contracted and filled in and, within a few months, all that was left was a small scar.
The Herb Poultice Applied Directly to the Wound
There are several good lessons to learn from this case. It is, in my opinion at least, a perfect example of how modern medicine and herbal medicine can and should work hand in hand.
The physicians that removed the mass from Susan's head did exactly the right thing. People often approach me about helping them to remove skin masses and cancers from their pets using herbs. While there are some plants that can be used for such things, none of them is remotely as efficient or effective as a scalpel. I often tell my clients "Stainless steel scalpel blades are all natural and have no side effects." The herbal alternatives to the scalpel for such cases are messy, sometimes painful and can occasionally leave disfiguring scars. It ain't the apocaylpse yet folks. We just don't need to use less than optimal solutions for our health problems.
Susan managed her case perfectly in my opinion. She went to a physician who made a correct diagnosis and used the best technique available for removing the mass. Doctors are great at diagnosing and ought to be used whenever possible. People fond of alternative medicine often spend a great deal of time and money using the wrong therapies because they never had a correct diagnosis in the first place. It's pretty tough to get a bullseye if you're aiming at something other than the target. Modern medicine has literally made a science out of diagnosis. They have amazing tools and skills in this area. Use them.
Susan was also wise enough to immediately realize when her doctors were not the best solution. Her surgeon was suffering from professional myopia, the inablity to see solutions that don't involve his own profession. As a surgeon, he saw only one solution for Susan's head wound...more surgery.
Modern doctors are, as I said, fantastic diagnosticians and mechanics for the body. They are very adept at repairing trauma, suppressing unpleasant symptoms of disease and killing pathogens and cancers but they have few if any tools to actually promote healing or to restore the body to it's natural condition of vibrant wellness. It just isn't part of their training or tool box.
Susan's surgeons could certainly have "solved" her wound problem. But only her own body, with a little help from the herbs, could heal her.
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