Health & Wellness

Recovering from Surgery the Natural Way

By Harris Wheless
Sharon Mccutcheon

Many people struggle to find an effective way to heal after surgery. Traditional medicine can sometimes make a person feel worse, or result in negative side effects. The dangers of addiction to painkillers and opioids are well-documented, and may cause people to shy away from using these as treatment methods after a procedure. But there’s good news—using natural remedies may be a healthier alternative to these substances that provide you similar relief and recovery benefits.

If you or a family member has recently undergone surgery, a number of hard-to-manage symptoms may have arisen. Thankfully, there are several natural remedies that you can use during the healing and recovery process.

Natural remedies to use for recovery after surgery

Between these five remedies, there’s likely one that covers the specific symptoms you’re struggling with. Whether that be inflammation, pain, nausea, wound healing, or something else, consider using one of these natural remedies to steer you down the road to a better recovery.

  • Ginger—Ginger is often used as an alternative treatment for nausea and vomiting, which are common post-surgery symptoms. It’s also used for its anti-inflammatory properties. For those who develop nausea after surgery from a reaction to anesthesia or pain-killing drugs, ginger can be an effective antidote to those side effects. The University of Maryland Medical Center cites research in which ginger was used to reduce post-surgical nausea and vomiting. Taking one gram of ginger root before surgery can also be an effective preventative measure. Ginger can easily be taken by mouth or applied topically as an oil after surgery, the latter of which may be more effective if you’re experienced localized pain or inflammation.
  • Bromelain—This enzyme extract is derived from the stem of pineapples and has robust anti-inflammatory properties. It also plays an important role in reducing bruising and swelling post-surgery. Although some amount of bruising and swelling is a normal part of the healing and recovery process after surgery, minimizing these effects helps promote a swifter and more effective recovery. Studies have noted bromelain’s positive effects on wound healing, pain, and bleeding in the weeks after surgery. A little bromelain can go a long way in optimizing your nutritional state for surgery and injury recovery.
  • Quercetin—This plant pigment, or flavonoid, is derived from fruits with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Capers, apples, red onions, citrus fruits, and leafy green vegetables all contain high amounts of quercetin. It can easily be added to your routine by consuming those foods, or by taking a supplement. Studies have shown that quercetin has the potential to prevent or remediate scars after a surgical procedure. It can also prevent acute or chronic inflammation and swelling. Some research has even shown that quercetin and bromelain produce greater anti-inflammatory effects when used together. If you’re having difficulties with pain or inflammation after a procedure, consider adding some quercetin to your healing process.
  • CBD—CBD is a hemp extract that has proven to be beneficial when aiding in post-surgery recovery, as well as easing symptoms associated with various other conditions. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid that has shown significant pain reduction and anti-inflammatory properties that can be a real boon to the healing process. It can also help with general post-surgery discomfort and any sleep issues that may arise during recovery. CBD’s antibiotic effects can also assist your immune system by inhibiting the growth of any microorganisms that may be harmful to your body.
  • Honey—Research has shown that honey possesses numerous healing properties because of its enzymes and antibacterial compounds. These help promote healing and prevent infection when honey is applied topically after surgery. Honey has long been used as a remedy for wound healing. It has a number of properties that make it effective against bacterial growth, including high sugar content, low moisture content, gluconic acid, and hydrogen peroxide. Using honey for recovery can result in incisions healing more rapidly. It has also proven successful in reducing inflammation and swelling. However, honey should not be used on an open wound.

Other factors to consider during recovery

Depending on the type of surgery you received, you may need more or less assistance from natural remedies and other approaches to healing and recovery. Be sure to follow the directions your surgeon or doctor has given you concerning what you can and cannot do post-surgery. Even if you feel better physically, it’s a good idea to take it easy in case any internal healing is happening at a slower pace. Be especially cognizant of how much physical activity you’re allowing yourself to do, as well as the food, drink, or medication you’re consuming.

It’s common to feel nauseous or constipated after surgery. And although you may not feel very hungry, it’s important to monitor your diet and make sure you’re getting the nutrients that will help you heal faster. A healthy diet that is targeted to help you recover can be very beneficial after surgery. Certain foods will help with fatigue and aid in the body’s recovery process, especially those that are rich in protein, vitamin C, iron, and fiber.

Once you’re able, a little physical activity can also go a long way in helping you recover. A quick walk every hour or two can help prevent blood clots, get your bowels moving, and generally get your body back on track to functioning normally. Take your recovery one step at a time, and you will gradually start to improve. If you have any questions or concerns about how natural remedies may fit into your recovery process, be sure to consult a doctor.

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