Me­gan Shep­pard

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Health | Feel Good Directory - Do you have a ques­tion for Me­gan Shep­pard? Email it to feel­good@ex­am­ or send a let­ter to: Feel­good, Ir­ish Ex­am­iner, Linn Dubh, As­sump­tion Road, Black­pool, Cork

I slipped and fell in Septem­ber, caus­ing a great deal of bruis­ing to my big toe joint. An x-ray ruled out a frac­ture. How­ever, the area is still quite painful, es­pe­cially in shoes with any kind of heel where it puts pres­sure on the toe joint. There is no sig­nif­i­cant swelling or bruis­ing re­main­ing, but the area is quite red at the end of the day. Is there any­thing you sug­gest that I should do to help with pain and move­ment of the joint? I cur­rently take ibupro­fen to help man­age the pain.

>> There are a cou­ple of herbal oint­ments that you may find use­ful in treat­ing both the pain and the un­der­ly­ing trauma to the toe. Cayenne oint­ment is great at re­duc­ing in­flam­ma­tion, in­creas­ing blood flow to the area, and help­ing with the pain.

Com­frey oint­ment has long been used to help heal sprains, strains, and frac­tures. Us­ing the two to­gether is a great idea since the cayenne oint­ment helps to draw the com­frey in deeper to work more ef­fec­tively. Com­frey, also known as ‘knit­bone’ and ‘bone­set’, has even been utilised by or­thopaedic sur­geons in the treat­ment of com­pli­cated frac­tures. It is thought that the anti-in­flam­ma­tory pro­tein al­lan­toin, found in the leaves and roots of com­frey, stim­u­lates the cells and pro­motes rapid heal­ing. Com­frey has been shown in tri­als to be at least as ef­fec­tive as anti-in­flam­ma­tory drugs in re­duc­ing pain, in­flam­ma­tion and swelling.

In­ter­nally, the best rem­edy to treat this type of in­jury is the home­o­pathic com­bi­na­tion called Ar­nica Sym­phy­tum. Home­o­pathic ar­nica (Ar­nica mon­tana) is al­ready a well known nat­u­ral rem­edy for ac­ci­dents and in­juries, while sym­phy­tum is the botan­i­cal name for com­frey (sym­phy­tum of­fic­i­nale).

The anti-in­flam­ma­tory herb boswellia ser­rata, also known as In­dian frank­in­cense, has been proven in clin­i­cal stud­ies to be as pow­er­ful as ibupro­fen and other over-the-counter pain re­lief.

You may also find that acupunc­ture can help re­store nor­mal move­ment and ad­dress the pain you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.

I have an is­sue with my vi­sion that my oph­thal­mol­o­gist calls flashes and floaters. They come and go, and don’t seem to cause any trou­ble. He says that they are harm­less and there is noth­ing to be done. Is there any­thing that I could have done to pre­vent them?

>> Flashes are typ­i­cally the re­sult of the vit­re­ous hu­mor thick­en­ing, which pulls on the retina. This event is ex­pe­ri­enced as a “flash” — a lit­tle like see­ing stars fol­low­ing a bump to the head.

Flashes can also oc­cur as symp­tom of oc­u­lar mi­graines, which are mi­graines with­out the pain and other com­mon symp­toms. The vit­re­ous hu­mor thick­ens as a nat­u­ral part of the age­ing process, but in rare cases can be a sign of the retina be­com­ing de­tached. Your oph­thal­mol­o­gist will be mon­i­tor­ing for any signs of this, so you are do­ing the right thing by get­ting this pro­fes­sion­ally checked.

Floaters are ac­tu­ally shad­ows of cel­lu­lar de­bris float­ing in­side the eye. As small clumps of gel or cells float within the eye fluid, they cast shad­ows on the retina, and it is this that you are see­ing. While it is com­mon for these floaters to even­tu­ally dis­ap­pear, do con­tact your oph­thal­mol­o­gist im­me­di­ately if you sud­denly be­gin to see large num­bers of these shad­ows.

There is not nec­es­sar­ily any­thing that you could have done to pre­vent the oc­cur­rence of the flashes and floaters, but there are a few things that you can do now to help sup­port op­ti­mal eye health. Bil­berry is a won­der­ful sup­ple­ment for eye health, strength­en­ing the cap­il­lar­ies car­ry­ing nu­tri­ents to the eye mus­cles and nerves. The an­tiox­i­dant nu­tri­ents — vi­ta­mins A, C, E, and the min­er­als se­le­nium and zinc — are all ben­e­fi­cial to oc­u­lar health, with stud­ies in­di­cat­ing that a daily dose of 50,000 IU of vi­ta­min A will specif­i­cally help to pre­vent floaters in your vi­sion.

Terra Nova’s Bil­berry, Lutein, & As­tax­an­thin com­plex is a for­mu­la­tion con­tain­ing ev­ery­thing you need for eye healtH — 100 cap­sules cost €34.60 from health stores.

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