If you get a cut, gash, or scrape, apply pressure to the area to stop the flow of blood, and wipe away any dirt or debris. Otherwise, the immune system will try to engulf the foreign particles, causing pus and slowing down the healing process. Rinse the cut with sterile salt water: Boil filtered or spring water, let it cool, and stir in one teaspoon of salt per pint of liquid. Finally, apply a poultice made from the herbs goldenseal (rich in antimicrobial berberine) and moist slippery-elm bark, a natural skin-healer. To make the poultice, mix a pinch of powdered goldenseal and bark with a few drops of aloe-leaf gel to make a thick paste. Spread enough of the paste to cover the surface of the wound. If the gash is open and deep, you may need stitches. Wounds left gaping have a tendency to fill with scar tissue.
After the cut is secure, apply an ointment that contains chamomile (like Dr. Burt's Herbal Defense Ointment; burtsbees.com) and take 500 to 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C twice a day to speed the healing process. To reduce pain and lessen bruising, dissolve homeopathic arnica (12C to 30C) under your tongue several times a day. Take 500 to 1,000 mg of bromelain between meals to give your white blood cells healing enzymes. And to prevent infection, take 825 mg of antioxidant olive-leaf extract three times a day.
If a scar does form, apply onionderived Mederma cream, available at drugstores. The allicin in onion is thought to lessen the raised appearance of scars and improve the organization of collagen fibers in your skin.
-Alan Dattner, M.D., holistic dermatologist, a founding member of the American Academy of Dermatology's Task Force for Nutrition and Evaluation of Alternative Medicine, and founder of holisticdermatology.com