Welcome to Day 34 of the #40DayHerbalist Challenge! Today’s Challenge focuses on herbs that can be helpful for supporting the bones and musculature after trauma. These herbs are useful for supporting the body's innate healing ability after medical care has been sought.
Although it’s easy enough to find information on yarrow, plantain, and even comfrey for herbal first aid uses, there are several other plants that are nice to have on hand after traumatic injuries like sprains, strains, tears, and broken bones. We’ve already talked about two of them (mullein and black cohosh), but let’s take another look at them as well as at boneset, arnica, and teasel.
In The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants, herbalist Matthew Wood has this to say about boneset: “In practice, boneset has turned out to be a superlative remedy for bone repair. Comfrey will seal bones together even when they are not correctly set and in the wrong place, but boneset will help bring them together in the right place and then set them from the inside out.” Boneset was also traditionally used for fevers and illnesses where deep, aching pain in the bones and muscles was present. Herbalist Richard Whelan has a good article about boneset.
As we have mentioned before, mullein is an excellent respiratory system support herb, but it also has been used traditionally for broken bones, bruising, and other post-traumatic injury aftermath. It has a reputation for being particularly useful for injuries to the fingers, toes, and spine; as well as broken bones that are hard to set. The Medicine Woman’s Roots has a fantastic article on mullein that details mullein’s uses for the musculoskeletal system as well as the ways mullein can be used as a nervine for emotional support.
Arnica is a topical-only herb because it can be toxic if used internally. Used externally, though it is one of the most well-loved herbs for sore muscles, strains, sprains, bruising, and insect bites. You can read more about arnica in this detailed entry from King’s American Dispensatory, 1898.
We’ve already talked about how black cohosh isn’t just for women, and supporting the body while it recovers from muscle pain, tightness, and whiplash is another example of how this herb can be helpful to both men and women.
Dipsacus sylvestris, D. japonica
Teasel has an affinity for the joints, tendons, and bones. Especially bad injuries where things have been pulled, torn, and wrenched. D. japonica was used for these purposes in TCM, and Western herbalists have explored the use D. sylvestris as a substitute. I don’t know of any good resources online that discuss the full depth and breadth of teasel, but The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood has an excellent chapter devoted to teasel.
So far, I’ve mentioned 7Song and Sam Coffman and the herbal first aid resources that they offer, but today I thought you would enjoy a video by Rosemary Gladstar, where she discusses her own traveler’s first aid kit. I love that she mentions that the supermarket is a great place to find herbs while you are traveling, and I think it ties in nicely with the kitchen herbs we’ve already talked about during the Challenge!
Rosemary Gladstar- Herbal First Aid for Travelers