By Barbara Poczyniak, R.Ac.
“Time heals all wounds” – except for when they leave a scar. An injury can leave behind an unwelcome scar, and a lasting mark left on the body that can affect a person both physically and emotionally. Thankfully there are natural ways to minimize scarring and even help reverse the appearance of older scars.
Why do scars form?
Scars result from the normal biological process of wound repair in the skin (and in other organs and tissues of the body). Scarring often occurs after a deep trauma such as severe burns or cuts, including surgical incisions. Scars serve as a protective measure while the body is healing but the fibrous scar layer that forms is never as functional as the original tissue.
Although scarring is a common result of the body’s natural healing process, it is not meant to be permanent. In some people who are more prone to scarring it can become a major issue to deal with. Even relatively small scars may cause further problems, including limited range of motion, pain and restricted circulation in the body – often in areas that are not even in the immediate area of the scar.
Internal Scars can act like adhesions
If scarring is internal (for instance after a surgical procedure) this can form a type of fibrous tissue know as an adhesion. These form more like bands of scar tissue, often acting as anchors underneath an exterior wound. These scars may appear very small on the surface, but can act like a network of fibrous tissue inside the body. They often restrict circulation of fluids in areas and occur most frequently in the abdomen and pelvis.
How Scars are seen in Traditional Chinese Medicine
One of the main goals in a TCM Acupuncture treatment is to help restore and regulate the healthy free flow of blood and energy in the body. Scar tissue is seen as a ‘stasis’ of blood and qi (energy), a state which by its very nature will cause disruptions such as pain and further imbalance in the body’s regulatory systems.
Treating scars with Acupuncture
Acupuncture treatments for scars can help increase blood circulation to the immediate area and break up the old fibrous tissues. Increased blood and oxygen levels can help the body eventually absorb and dissolve this tissue naturally. Depending on the scar type and treatment approach, sterile, hair-thin acupuncture needles are placed surrounding the scar, or into the actual scar tissue. Gua Sha (skin scraping or rubbing) with a flat instrument is also often part of this approach and can be used alongside acupuncture needles. This can help gently break up scar tissue and encourage blood and lymph flow in the area.
Castor Oil to help reduce appearance of scar tissue
Castor oil is derived from the bean of the Ricinus communis, and has been used therapeutically for centuries in folk medicine traditions ranging from ancient India, China, Persia, Africa, Greece, Rome to the Americas. Among other uses, it has traditionally been prized for skin care including treatment of scar tissue. Organic castor oils that are expeller pressed (therefore hexane free) are a good choice. The theory behind using castor oil to treat scars is that it is highly moisturizing to the skin, helping to soften adhesions and allowing new skin cells to regenerate.
Using castor oil to help resolve scar tissue is a non-invasive method for both skin surface scars and internal adhesions over time. Castor oil can be applied directly onto a skin surface scar, then covered with a warm wrap or compress – and often left overnight. Alternately, a series of treatments with castor oil packs can be very beneficial for gently resolving internal scarring and adhesions.
Treating scars with the Arvigo® Therapy Techniques
The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy are a gentle, non-invasive abdominal massage that encourages blood, lymph and energy circulation to the reproductive and digestive systems. It can help increase circulation to resolve congestion such as internal scar tissue and adhesions in the abdominal and pelvic areas.
Essential oils for scar tissue
A number of essential oils have been identified as having superior skin repair qualities, including some that are effective in scar tissue treatment. When using most essential oils on the skin it is necessary to always first dilute correct amounts in a carrier oil (castor oil or other suitable massage oil).
Two important oils to treat scar tissue:
- Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)
- Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
Two important oils to help skin heal:
- Helichrysum (Helichrysum angustifolium)
- True Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Cautions with scar treatments
Remember that regardless of their unappealing nature – scars are still a natural healing phenomenon. Therefore, due to an increased risk of infection – always wait at least one month or more after the injury before starting any natural therapy treatment. Persons who are diabetic, elderly, cancer patients or those with neurological disorders should first seek the advice of their health care professional before attempting any other natural therapies for their scars.
Learn more about Barbara and how she can treat scarring with Arvigo® Therapy and acupuncture.
- William A. McGarey, MD, The Oil That Heals: A Physician’s Success with Castor Oil Treatments, 1993
- Christiane Northrup, MD, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1994
- Harvey Grady , Immunomodulation Through Castor Oil Packs , Journal of Naturopathic Medicine ,Vol 7, No 1 1999
- Shirley Price, Len Price, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, 2012
- Bensouliah, P. Buck, Aromadermatology: Aromatherapy in the Treatment and Care of Common Skin Conditions, 2006
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