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The Wonders of Natural Healing: How Your Body Rushes to Heal You

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on April 10, 2023

Subtitle: The Astounding Mechanisms Behind Your Body's Innate Healing Powers

The human body is a marvel of nature, possessing remarkable self-healing capabilities that can be observed through the lens of naturopathic medicine. This holistic approach emphasizes the importance of the body's natural ability to heal itself and seeks to support these processes with evidence-based treatments. In this blog post, we will explore the various ways your body rushes to heal you, backed by scientific research.

  1. The Inflammatory Response: Nature's First Responder

Inflammation is often seen as a negative phenomenon, but it is actually a crucial aspect of the body's healing process. When you experience an injury or infection, your immune system immediately triggers an inflammatory response. This involves the release of chemical mediators, such as histamines and prostaglandins, which cause blood vessels to dilate and increase blood flow to the affected area. This results in the familiar signs of inflammation: redness, heat, swelling, and pain. These processes help to remove damaged tissue and facilitate the delivery of essential nutrients and immune cells to promote healing. (1)

  1. The Proliferative Phase: Regenerating and Repairing

Once the inflammatory response has initiated the healing process, the body enters the proliferative phase. This stage involves the production of new cells to replace damaged tissue, as well as the formation of collagen, a key structural protein. Fibroblasts, specialized cells responsible for producing collagen, migrate to the affected area and begin to synthesize the protein, which acts as a scaffold for new tissue growth. (2)

  1. The Remodeling Phase: Strengthening and Maturation

The final stage of the healing process is the remodeling phase, during which the newly formed tissue becomes stronger and more functional. Collagen fibers are reorganized and realigned to improve tensile strength, and any excess tissue is removed through a process known as apoptosis or programmed cell death. This phase can last several months, depending on the severity of the injury and the individual's overall health. (3)

  1. The Role of Nutrition in Healing

Proper nutrition is essential for supporting the body's natural healing processes. A well-balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can provide the necessary building blocks for tissue repair and regeneration. (4) Key nutrients for healing include:

  • Vitamin C: Essential for collagen synthesis and immune function
  • Vitamin A: Supports cell growth and differentiation
  • Zinc: Aids in wound healing and supports immune function
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Reduce inflammation and promote tissue repair
  1. The Power of Sleep

Sleep plays a critical role in the body's ability to heal itself. During sleep, the body releases growth hormones that stimulate cell reproduction and regeneration, while also reducing inflammation and supporting immune function. Prioritizing sleep and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can greatly enhance the body's natural healing capabilities. (5)

  1. Stress Reduction and Healing

Chronic stress has been shown to impair the body's ability to heal by suppressing immune function and prolonging the inflammatory response. Incorporating stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and regular physical activity can support the body's natural healing processes and improve overall health. (6)

The human body's innate ability to heal itself is truly remarkable. By understanding and supporting these processes through an evidence-based naturopathic approach, we can optimize our health and well-being. Emphasizing proper nutrition, sleep, and stress reduction can go a long way in enhancing our body's natural healing capabilities and fostering a more holistic approach to health care.

Resources:

  1. Gethin G. Understanding the inflammatory process in wound healing. Br J Community Nurs. 2012 Mar;Suppl:S17-8, S20, S22. doi: 10.12968/bjcn.2012.17.sup3.s17. PMID: 22584180.
  2. Wallace HA, Basehore BM, Zito PM. Wound Healing Phases. 2023 Mar 7. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 29262065.
  3. Gonzalez AC, Costa TF, Andrade ZA, Medrado AR. Wound healing - A literature review. An Bras Dermatol. 2016 Sep-Oct;91(5):614-620. doi: 10.1590/abd1806-4841.20164741. PMID: 27828635; PMCID: PMC5087220.
  4. Stechmiller JK. Understanding the role of nutrition and wound healing. Nutr Clin Pract. 2010 Feb;25(1):61-8. doi: 10.1177/0884533609358997. PMID: 20130158.
  5. Mostaghimi L, Obermeyer WH, Ballamudi B, Martinez-Gonzalez D, Benca RM. Effects of sleep deprivation on wound healing. J Sleep Res. 2005 Sep;14(3):213-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2005.00455.x. PMID: 16120095.
  6. Meesters A, den Bosch-Meevissen YMCI, Weijzen CAH, Buurman WA, Losen M, Schepers J, Thissen MRTM, Alberts HJEM, Schalkwijk CG, Peters ML. The effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on wound healing: a preliminary study. J Behav Med. 2018 Jun;41(3):385-397. doi: 10.1007/s10865-017-9901-8. Epub 2017 Nov 20. PMID: 29159589.

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