A week before Christmas my husband, Steve, came home from work with a fractured fibula. This is the smaller bone on the outside of your lower leg; I broke mine 2 years ago in the EXACT same place. For those of you who do not know my husband, he is an extremely active guy so this injury was the worst possible Christmas gift. On top of that, for those of you who have broken a bone, it’s a pretty painful situation.
Steve’s been taking vitamin D, omega-3 fish oils and two homeopathic remedies (arnica montana and symphytum). He started taking these around week 2 to try to speed the healing of his fracture after he knew it was properly set. Here is a picture at week-3……
As a student of naturopathic medicine I put my curiosity cap on and decided to do a little research. So I wanted to share with you some of the info I was able to find …
Vitamin D has a myriad of health benefits; many people (especially us Canadians) are prescribed a vitamin D supplement as it can be tough to get enough sunshine (required for our bodies make vit D). In physiology we learned that vitamin D is integral to calcium homeostasis in the body. This means that vitamin D helps tell the body when to absorb more calcium. Its role in calcium homeostasis is one of the reasons vitamin D has such a great reputation when it comes to bone health – you will even notice it in most calcium supplements!
So while there are many studies showing vitamin D can increase BMD (bone mineral density – and this is a good thing because it helps to prevent fractures), what about speeding or even just improving the healing of a bone that’s already fractured?
A recent review of the literature by Daniel Eschle and Andre G. Aeschlimann stated that there have been 7 animal studies demonstrating improved fracture healing with vitamin D supplementation. Only 1 published human study currently shows similar results (but they were only able to find 2 human studies in total!). Hmmm, so it seems we’ve found a gap in the research here. But so far the results look promising!!
Omega 3’s are an important and essential polyunsaturated fatty acid. They are considered essential because our bodies cannot produce them in large enough numbers to maintain health. These fatty good guys can be found in oily fish. In first year nutrition we learned the acronym SMASH (salmon, mackerel, anchovy, sardine, herring) to remember what fish were the omega packed ones! However, many people opt to supplement with omega-3 because there is concern over heavy metal contamination of fish in the diet.
So are omega-3’s good for healing fractured bone? Well, the jury is still out it seems. Why? Basically, there has not been enough conclusive research on the topic. However, we do know that omega-3’s are highly anti-inflammatory and according to a very recently published article by Kajarabile et al,
“…strong evidences featured in the scientific literature available to date support the benefits of ω-3 fatty acids in bone health. Several mechanisms have been proposed (affecting bone formation, bone resorption, serum calcium and vitamin D, oxidative stress, and inflammatory mediators).”
The authors do continue to state that the exact mechanism and benefit of omega-3 on bone tissue is still not very well understood and therefore recommend that more research is needed. However, the work that has been done thus far suggests that omega-3’s do help with both overall bone health and the regulation of bone metabolism/turnover.
Homeopathy is often criticized for its lack of scientific evidence. Why is homeopathy so hard to study? Well, it is based on the premise that the medicinal properties of homeopathic pellets or tinctures are on an energetic level. Samuel Hahnemann (founder of homeopathy) believed that the wesen (or life force/energy) of the substance was much more medicinally powerful than it’s material constituents. Homeopathic remedies are HIGHLY DILUTED and contain little to no physical particles. Instead they retain the energetic imprint of the substance they were made from. These remedies are given based on the philosophy of ‘like cures like.’ In this view, a substance that causes a set of symptoms in a healthy individual in large doses will cure the SAME set of symptoms in a sick individual in highly diluted doses.
Basically, an energetic medicine proves difficult to study in a laboratory setting – though it has been done! But more on that another day…
This is what I was able to find in my Homeopathic Materia Medica:
Symphytum – Homeopathic Remedy
This remedy has a reputation for use in wound healing, especially wounds that affect the periosteum (a membrane that covers the outer surface of bones) and bone. It is indicated for fractures and irritable, pricking pains and soreness at the point of fracture.
Arnica Montana – Homeopathic Remedy
Indicated for use after traumatic injuries, when limbs and body aches as if beaten, when there is a sore, lame, bruised feeling. A keynote of the arnica remedy is someone who fears the touch or approach of anyone to the affected area – seems reasonable when you think about a broken bone. Also indicated when there is soreness after overexertion of a limb and when there is black and blue skin. Injuries, which, benefit from arnica tend to be worse with touch and motion and better with lying down.
One week in and there was significantly less bruising. Steve is already starting to put a bit of pressure on his foot, he has a walking cast ofcourse (looks like a spaceboot!). Is this a result of his supplements or simply a natural process, can’t really be sure I guess. But, this was a nice opportunity to do a little research.
Have you had experience with a fractured bone? I’d love to hear your stories or comments below.
Reminder: this post is not meant to be construed as medical advice, but only as informational and based on personal experience and the experiences of others. You should never enter into any treatment protocol/supplementation without the advice of a licensed naturopathic doctor or other health care practitioner; your individual situation will be unique and require professional assessment. For more clarification on this please refer to the disclaimer at the bottom of this page.
Kajarabille N, Diaz-Castro J, Hijano S, Lopez-Frias M, Lopez-Aliaga I, Ochoa JJ. A New Insight to Bone Turnover: Role of ω-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids. Scientific World Journal. Nov 2013: 1-46
Boericke W. Pocket Manual of Homeopathic Materia Medica & Repertory. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers (P) LTD; c2011.
Eschle D, Aeschlimann A.G. Is Supplementation with Vitamin D Beneficial for Fracture Healing: A Short Review of the Literature. Geriatr Orthop Surg Rehabil. 2011 May; 2(3): 90–93.