So you know that case I talked about the other day? Well, it got worse again the next day. In fact, it got downright scary again, the swelling didn’t reoccur much but the red rash (cellulitis) started to spread up the ankle. And then I smacked myself in the head in disbelief at my own stupidity. I know this (I’ve even seen it before) and you should know this: do NOT, do NOT put salves (especially those that contain beeswax in any amount) even if they are extremely antibacterial on suspected staph, strep or other such infections on the skin. It holds the bacteria in and keeps the area too moist, allowing the infection to rapidly spread. The reason the foot got worse is because the client and I were so incredibly diligent about keeping the salve on the wounds, and it didn’t get a chance to dry out enough. The salve might have even been ok in less frequent, or less copious applications, but I chose to eliminate it completely to help get things under control quicker.
The good news is that as soon as we removed the salve from the regimen it started to improve. Also, I began using some slightly diluted Alder/Rose tincture topically too right away to help dry things out and get a head start on the bacteria. Switched the foot wash back to a very antibacterial formula of Rose, Alder, Calendula and Plantain. Current tincture regimen is 2 parts Alder, 2 parts Usnea, 1 part Oregon Grape Root and 1 part Redroot. It’s getting better by the hour, at least 70% better than 24 hours ago, and 90% better than 42 hours ago. Thank goodness. An antibacterial powdered herb like Usnea would certainly be appropriate, but is unlikely to work in this particular case thanks to limited compliance.
And if I had to do this again, and I could only use two herbs to work with for it, they would be Alder and Usnea. Maybe especially the Alder, amazing stuff.
I tend not to use fancy medical jargon but cellulitis is a useful word to know. Basically, it’s an infection of the skin and soft tissue that occurs when bacteria (usually staph or strep critters) invade broken skin. These bacterias can be carried around on normal, healthy skin and only be a problem when they get into an untreated wound, as in this case. Anyhow, these bacteria cause lots of unpleasant infection and inflammation, and if untreated can spread like wildfire, sometimes all the way into the blood etc. People with compromised immune systems, as in Diabetes, are far more vulnerable. An herb teacher of mine, Chuck Garcia, taught me to use Usnea first and foremost for any outbreak of staph or similar. As a diabetic with frequent outbreaks himself as well as treating others he has successfully subdued many outbreaks. Usnea’s not very water soluble, so he always uses the tincture/liniment externally, which is what I do as well, in addition to internal doses and the Alder. The Alder IS quite water soluble, as is Rose and both are hightly antibacterial, astringent and healing to the skin.
With all the alcohol and water on the skin, the area has got quite dried out and uncomfortable, so I’ve been using sparing applications of a light herbal lotion twice a day to moisturize without creating dampness, and that seem ok. Client wants to scratch his foot off, but the lotion helps a bit.
Here’s some less than pleasant pictures to illustrate my point, if you look up cellulitis in google images you’ll get even stranger images. And dammit, I wish I’d been taking pictures all along, it would have made my posts a bit unattractive, but perhaps more informative.
Also, be sure to check out Susan’s great cellulitis regimen in the comments to the original post, as well as Lisa’s interesting comments and questions as well.
Whew, what a week, at least all the other cases are healing or healed without complication, and I just treated a bad burn with super results (for another post) and have had some great success lately with a few of my ongoing chronic cases. Oh, and I made this amazing (to me) dietary discovery that has enabled me to digest fats and proteins efficiently for the first time in year, yippee, I can eat sardines again! More about all that later, I have curriculum and emails to write for now.