Table of Contents
- How and Why Bruises Appear
- The Best Natural Remedies for Bruises
- Is There a Way to Prevent Bruises?
Bruises are an inevitable part of our lives, especially in summer. Although they eventually go away on their own, we can reduce the pain and encourage faster fading with natural remedies. When it comes to physical appearance, bruises can have a certain ill-look, which can be especially annoying during the warm season.
Although our main concern certainly is to reduce the pain, these remedies can also help with minimizing the unattractive look and reducing that unpleasant feeling we often have when our body is bruised.
To understand how to use natural remedies to reduce the pain and fade unattractive appearance, we should understand how and why bruises appear.
How and Why Bruises Appear
When you hit yourself, or have a bump, or knock hard enough to damage the small blood vessels under your skin, the bruises appear. In this situation, blood leaks out of these small blood vessels, called capillaries, and seep into the surrounding tissue. At first, you see black-and-blue colors that are common for most bruises.
However, as the pooled blood breaks down slowly, the colors change from blue, to purple, green and yellow. Without any treatment, the bruises will fade away in 10 to 14 days.
Before you apply any natural remedy, there are certain steps you can take to encourage fading away and pain reduction.
- To minimize discoloration, that is to reduce blood flow, apply ice and compression as soon as possible. If you cool the blood vessels around the bruised area, less blood will seep into the surrounding tissue. Use bags of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel, or soak a cloth in ice-cold water and apply it over the bruises for 10 minutes.
- To reduce blood flow and minimize discoloration, in case you injured your arm or leg, sit on a couch or a chair with your leg on a pillow, above heart level. The same applies for arm, keep it propped up above heart level.
- Wrap an elastic bandage around the bruised part (arm or leg) to prevent blood from leaking.
- After cooling the bruise for a day, use heat to boost circulation by applying an electric heating pad for 20 minutes several times a day.
- Apply a warm compress over or under the bruised area.
Now that you are familiar with the basics, you can use plenty of plants, herbs, and essential oils to treat bruises. Without any particular order, we are going to specify the best natural remedies for bruises.
The Best Natural Remedies for Bruises
The tradition of Greek Herbalists – St. John’s Wort
Known as a very useful herb for wound healing, the early Greek herbalists used St. John’s Wort to dress sword cuts.
Today, we are aware of antibacterial and astringent properties of this plant, the qualities very beneficial for speeding up the healing of wounds and cuts. When applied externally, this herb is especially beneficial for bruises, though its benefits are also recognized when used internally.
When it comes to internal bruises, such as bruised ribs or a stubbed toe, St. John’s Wort tea or traditional infusion is very supportive.
To make tea, use the leaves and flowers of the fresh herb. If you are using dried herbs, use four times as many fresh herbs to ensure the same potency. Steep 2 tablespoons of dried herb in 8oz of boiling water for 10 to 20 minutes.
To wash wounds and bruise you can also use the infusion. The properties of the herb will help in treating swelling and infection.
For external bruises, rub a salve or oil of St. John’s Worth on the affected area. Rubbing it gently into the bruise, an astringent called tannins will help shrink the tissue and control capillary bleeding. Use this treatment soon after the bruise occurs, and do it three times a day.
Powerful Gypsies Magic – Comfrey
With a reputation as a mender of broken bones, comfrey has been used to treat skin problems for a long time by Gypsies and peasant people. It is one of the oldest remedies for skin.
The most common use of comfrey is in poultices that are used for sprains, bruises and cuts. We can also use an infusion (strong tea) of either fresh or dried leaves.
Comfrey is in many ways a very powerful herb; apart from promoting healing of tissue and bone, comfrey also reduces swelling and speeds up the healing process.
Due to the high content of a substance called allantoin, which promotes the growth of tissue, comfrey is widely used externally.
To make poultices you will need ½ cup of dried comfrey root, or leaves, water, gauze and bandage. First, boil the water, add comfrey in it, and wait for about 3 minutes while the water is boiling. Let it steep for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use a cloth or blender to squeeze the water, and squeeze the comfrey paste onto the gauze and wrap up with the bandaging material around the gauze. Apply the pad to the affected area, comfortably hot, and cover with a towel to keep the heat in.
Be very careful with comfrey when it comes to open wounds or broken skin. Comfrey has toxic chemicals (toxic to the liver) that can be absorbed through the skin and it should not be taken orally.
The Mediterranean Home Remedy – Sage
Salvia officinalis, originally from the Mediterranean, has been regarded as a medicine for centuries. It was mainly used for making a general tonic that was useful for weak and exhausted, and especially good for tiredness that is followed by an infection. Sage has many benefits and depending on how you use the herb, you will discover its qualities.
A hot infusion (with honey) will serve as a remedy for sore throat. An infusion with cayenne will help fight the fever. As tea, it is good for concentration. Cold tea is great for excessive sweating and fresh sage leaves are great for flu symptoms;
When it comes to bruises and swelling, sage is also used as a poultice with vinegar. To make a poultice, use a rolling pin to flatten fresh sage leaves (a handful) and place in a pan, then cover with cider vinegar. Simmer it gently, until the leaves are soft, and then wrap the leaves in a cloth and apply warm.
Sage is also known as a remedy for a black eye, and this is not something anyone would want to walk around. Prepare tea using sage leaves, let it cool to room temperature, or slightly warmer, and make your compress. Apply the compress over the eye for an hour.
Wild Herb from Greece – Arnica
Arnica is another powerful herb used in ancient times for nasty bruises and swelling; we can find it growing in the mountainous regions in Greece. Today, Arnica is a very popular homeopathic remedy around the world, which has great qualities to reduce swelling and to heal bruises even after surgery.
Arnica herb is stimulating the migration of white blood cells to the injured area, thus decreasing the degree of swelling in the affected area.
Due to its strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, Arnica is used in the form of cream or tinctures to treat bruises. For bruises, it is used with water and applied as a part of bandaging. Add 10 to 15 drops of tincture to a cup of water, soak a clean cloth and apply on the affected area.
The most effective way to use Arnica is to rub it directly on the area of bruising or swelling; this way it will penetrate the skin faster and improve the circulation.
Arnica is generally safe for topical use, however, if you use it for a longer period of time, it can cause side effects such as itching, dry and peeling skin.
Beautiful Remedy from Africa and Europe – Calendula
This stunningly beautiful flower, native to northern Africa and south-central Europe, is one of the best herbs for skin problems and infections. Calendula is beneficial for skin in numerous ways, controlling bleeding, healing damaged tissue, soothing inflammation, healing wounds and skin ulcers, and stimulating the immune system. It has an age-old reputation as a healing agent for bruises.
Calendula can be used in various forms, as a fluid extract, oil, ointment, tea, infusion. Each form has its advantages depending on a type of skin injury or bruise.
For bruises, you can make a fluid extract; Use 6 ounces of dried Calendula flower petals and 8 ounces of 180-proof grain alcohol. Mix it well by constantly stirring for 10 minutes. Put the mixture in a jar, put a cap, and leave overnight. Strain the mixture the next day using cheesecloth as a filter, and bottle the fluid.
To make tea, add a tablespoon of powdered Calendula flowers, or dried flowers, in a cup of boiling water, and let it steep for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture, and the remaining warm solution use to apply to the affected area.
The ointment is very easy to apply, and it is excellent because it penetrates through skin layers and speeds up the healing process. Calendula oil you can use to apply to the areas that cannot be handled by rubbing.
Native Americans Remedy – Witch Hazel
Early settlers in New England adopted the remedy from Native Americans and started a tradition of using witch hazel extract to treat swelling, inflammation and skin problems. As a soothing and cooling plant, witch hazel has tremendous anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
If a witch hazel bush is growing in your garden, or somewhere nearby, then you can easily make an excellent remedy from its leaves and twigs. Witch hazel is amazing when it comes to skin treatment; it has powerful properties that also moisturize and refresh the skin, so, when it comes to bruises, it is double effective.
One of the easiest ways to use witch hazel is to make tea. Soak a handful of leaves and twigs in a cup of very hot water; you can add a few cloves for flavor, and leave it soaked for at least 15 minutes. Strain it, soak a thin cloth and apply it to your bruises several times a day.
This herb reduces the swelling and soothes the skin as well. You can also use witch hazel to disinfect minor cuts.
One can use witch hazel cream as well. The cream will help disperse the blood and encourage healing and probably reduce the swelling faster because it penetrates the skin quickly.
As for the side effects, the only side effect associated with witch hazel is in case of frequent use or large dosage (when used as a remedy for sore throat). You can feel nauseated because of the compound called tannins.
Persephone’s Remedy – Parsley
Petroselinum crispum also has a long tradition as a remedy and respected history in herbal medicine. Parsley is often mentioned as a cure-all herb because it has various important minerals (iron, potassium, calcium, manganese) and vitamin C. It is often recommended for its diuretic properties and for stomach treatment, however, it is also a very important remedy for the skin.
To effectively treat bruises, use fresh parsley leaves. Take a handful of fresh leaves, crush them and spread them over the bruises. Wrap the area with an elastic bandage. With these simple steps, you will also reduce pain and decrease inflammation, and parsley also can shrink small blood vessels. Keep spreading parsley leaves on the affected area until the blue or black marks disappear.
Parsley is safe for most people, however, it can increase uterine contractions thus it is not recommended for pregnant women or women hoping to become pregnant.
Is There a Way to Prevent Bruises?
If you feel that you bruise easily, you may be deficient in vitamin C and K. Vitamin C strengthens the capillary walls, so they will not leak blood and make a bruise easily. Vitamin K decreases bruises by helping with blood clotting.
Consume food rich in vitamin K, such as green leafy vegetables, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and seaweed. One should also increase the daily intakes of flavonoids because they help vitamin C work well. This means you should eat more apricots and citrus fruits.
In case your bruises appear mysteriously, see your doctor. Bruises are sometimes the marks of serious conditions like hemophilia, aplastic anemia and leukemia. If your bruise does not fade after a week, if you feel severe pain or fever, or if the bruise keeps swelling, you must see a doctor.
Images credit:123RF Photo Stock
Wardwell, J. A. (1998). The Herbal Home Remedy Book: Simple Recipes for Tinctures, Teas, Salves, Tonics, and Syrups. Storey Publishing.
Last article update: 9/2/2019