Todd Humphrey, Practice Manager of Vaughan Integrative Medicine, compiled the information in this article. He had surgery more than 15 years ago to alleviate sleep apnea. The surgery included a septoplasty and a tonsillectomy. He wishes someone had given him this article; the pain was unbearable and the liquid antibiotics resulted in thrush. Knowing what he knows now, he’s certain that visualization would have made an incredible difference.
- Dr. Vaughan
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 51 million inpatient procedures were performed in Ambulatory and Hospital Care clinics during 2010. Any type of surgery, including non-invasive procedures, is traumatic to the body. The benefits of surgeries clearly outweigh the inconveniences – including pain, reduced mobility, and a delay in returning to routine activities – that accompany surgical procedures. By following the following integrative tips, it’s possible to reduce these inconveniences.
The Jan-Jun 2011 issue of The National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery included the article Supplemental oxygen therapy: Important considerations in oral and maxillofacial surgery. The study’s authors write in the introduction,
The administration of supplemental oxygen is an essential element of appropriate management for a wide range of clinical conditions; crossing different medical and surgical specialities [sic].
In this evidence-based era, there is a growing acknowledgement of oxygen as a drug with specific biochemical and physiologic actions, a distinct range of effective doses and well-defined adverse effects at high doses.
But this subject remains poorly understood and therefore inadequately practiced. However, the safe implementation of oxygen therapy with appropriate monitoring is an integral component of the Healthcare Professional’s role.
Oxygen therapy is an excellent way to both prepare the body for surgery and to help support the body’s healing process. Oxygen and nutrients from food are the primary ingredients used to create energy at the cellular level; they are the basis of all metabolic function. Oxygenating the body helps reduce inflammation and helps provide cells with the energy needed to fight infection, grow new cells, and repair tissue damage.
Integrative specialists acknowledge the benefits of supplemental oxygen. Oxygen can be administered though an oxygen concentrator and sometimes delivered as 100% oxygen through a canister. The most potent way to receive oxygen therapy is by using a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves a patient breathing condensed or pure oxygen while in a pressurized room or tube. Because the patient is under pressure, more oxygen is dissolved into the blood stream, providing more oxygen deeper into cellular tissue.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), first used in dive medicine to treat deep sea divers who returned to the surface too quickly, is now commonly used to treat serious infections and wounds that won’t heal. Some cancer centers and burn units utilize hard-sided hyperbaric oxygen chambers. Soft-sided chambers provide benefits of HBOT at a lower pressure and typically at a much reduced price.
To use HBOT to prepare for surgery, use the chamber at least once one or two days prior to surgery. The supplemental oxygen before surgery will help the recovery from general anesthesia with less occurrence or severity of some side effects. As soon after surgery as possible, continue with HBOT for a total of ten to 40 sessions depending on the degree of the surgery’s invasiveness. Post-surgery HBOT sessions provide supplemental oxygen to help reduce inflammation and support the immune system by fighting infection.
The majority of surgeons will recommend that patients discontinue all supplements prior to a surgery. While it is true that some supplements – especially those that thin the blood – should definitely be discontinued, other nutritional supplements can actually promote healing and lead to a shorter recovery time. Integrative and holistic practitioners with training in functional medicine can provide recommendations to support the affected organs and systems impacted by surgery and provide overall support for healing. Common instructions include:
Increase your Vitamin C. Studies indicate that as little as 250 mg of this antioxidant daily after surgery can reduce recovery time in half. Vitamin C offers support to the immune system and promotes healing. In most instances it is possible to significantly boost Vitamin C with no adverse reactions with surgery. For patients facing invasive procedures and people with compromised immune systems, a nutritional IV with high doses of Vitamin C can be the easiest and most effective way to support the body. Vitamin C supplementation and IV therapy can be started prior to and continue after surgery for most people. To boost Vitamin C levels prior to surgery, take between five and ten grams daily in divided doses the week leading up to surgery. Too much Vitamin C will result in a looser-than-normal stool and indicates that someone should back off on the dose but not stop taking it.
Take phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine is a fat that is found in cod liver oil, eggs and lecithin. It is the thin outer layer of fat that enfolds the membrane of each cell in the body. Phosphatidylcholine is important during surgery recovery because it acts as the primary foundation for liver detoxification enzymes – the enzymes that process the multiple drugs that are used in anesthesia as well as clearing out any cells damaged by the surgical procedure.
Individuals who have insufficient stores of phosphatidylcholine can suffer from brain fog following a surgery. This condition can continue for several years if untreated. This condition is the result of the body channeling phosphatidylcholine away from nerve cells, especially in the brain, to the liver to aid in detox. Prevention is as simple as taking three to six pills daily the week before surgery and then resume after surgery until an entire bottle is used. This provides the liver with the needed nutrients to process the medications administered during a procedure and to clean out damaged cells.
Discontinue using blood thinners. One week before surgery cease supplementing with vitamin E, omega-3 fats, and ginseng. Also avoid saw palmetto, red clover, clove, angelica, turmeric, and white willow; these herbs all thin the blood. Garlic and ginger either in supplement form or in the form of food may also thin the blood. Certain medications, including aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may also need to be avoided the week prior to surgery. Blood thinners increase the risk of bleeding during a procedure; individuals who use NSAIDs on a regular basis for prevention of stroke should consult their surgeon for guidelines and advice on how to medicate.
Introduce probiotics and fiber into your diet. Immune system health is directly linked to a healthy gut biome. Probiotics support the biome by introducing the good bacteria into the body to aid in digestive activities. Fiber acts as food for the probiotics so they can multiply and continue to thrive and crowd out bad bacteria and microorganisms that inhibit health. In addition, fiber helps keep the bowels moving. Some narcotic/opiod medications that are used to treat pain have the unfortunate side effect of causing constipation. Fiber and other prescribed medications can help alleviate constipation; keeping the bowels moving is vital as it helps the body eliminate toxins that can significantly impact vitality.
Promote inflammation reduction. Inflammation is a significant source of pain and is a cause of scar tissue. To reduce inflammation, use turmeric or curcumin orally as a supplement or to add flavor to food. Curcumin, the most active constituent of turmeric, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This spice is the cause of the yellow color of Indian curry and American mustard. In addition, supplement with enzymes that strip away the biofilm that protects the non-beneficial bacteria and yeast that encourage inflammation in the body.
Another effective way to reduce inflammation is to use a NeuroField Inflammation Reduction program. NeuroField is an innovative neurotherapy device. It provides extremely low levels of variable DC stimulation through various programs that provide the stimulation at certain pre-set frequencies that are believed to influence the energy field generated by the brain and the body, facilitating certain physiological effects. Although no formal research exists utilizing the device and treatment is considered experimental, individual cases have impressed surgeons with the near elimination of post surgical surface scar tissue. NeuroField is available from specially trained neurotherapy practitioners.
Numerous personal accounts of the power of visualization or guided imagery give credit to the theory of mind over matter. Before having surgery, setting a clear intention for the surgical experience and recovery can make the physical experience less traumatic. Visualize and affirm that blood loss will be minimal; visualize blood moving away from the surgical site. Create a script of a successful surgery, with an experience of little-to-no pain, and an easy quick recovery. Visualize every part of your script.
Web blogger Jila Tanha shares her surgery and recovery script on the website cancerwise:
The morning of my surgery, I gave my team three copies of my script to be read aloud before and after surgery. It read:
Ms. Tanha, your surgery is about to start/over. We will/were able to remove all of the disease, and your body will be healthy from now on.
- You will have no pain in the area of your surgery, and you will heal quickly.
- You will be able to move easily, without restriction or pain.
- You are able to breathe deeply and easily, fully inflating your lungs. You will no longer need the ventilator after two hours.
- You will come out of the anesthesia easily, without headache or nausea.
- As soon as you are allowed, you will find walking very easy, and your energy level will be optimum at that time.
- When they bring you food and drinks, you will have a good appetite, and they will taste wonderful.
Surgery can be a necessary inconvenience. Limiting the time of that inconvenience is possible with these tips. For more information on ways to return to daily activity more quickly, check in with an integrative or holistic practitioner.
- The medicine they give you after the surgery will be free of side effects.(http://www2.mdanderson.org/cancerwise/2013/03/how-pre-surgery-visualization-helped-me-part-ii.html)