While they’re the place we go for healing, all hospitals have the potential to be a hotbed for contagious infections.
But there are precautionary measures patients can take, both to reduce the need for a hospital stay and to condition the body to ward off infection and minimize pain when surgery is necessary, says Letha Hadady, a nationally-recognized herbal expert and author of Naturally Pain Free, just published by Sourcebooks (www.AsianHealthSecrets.com). Letha has been documenting in real time her recent hip replacement, preparation and recovery, in a video blog on her global website.
“We are fast approaching a time when antibiotics will be outdated because infectious bacteria – Superbugs – have become resistant,” she says. “We have to protect ourselves with the gifts of nature that germs cannot adapt to – foods, minerals, herbal remedies and other natural products that build our defenses.”
There are 600,000 knee-replacement and 300,000 hip-replacement surgeries performed each year in the United States, a number that has doubled in the past 10 years and continues to grow, Hadady says. As a health expert cited by NBC News, AP Radio, Newsday, the Daily News, the San Francisco Chronicle and Barbara Walters, she says she is concerned about the risks, pain and fear as many people face both major and minor surgeries.
“These surgeries are only going to become more frequent as the baby boomer generation ages. People 50 and older with osteoarthritis are most likely to need hip- and knee-placements,” she says. “But plenty of younger people are affected, too. Runners, dancers, tennis players, soldiers – even high school students who suffer sports injuries. It could be you on the operating table!”
Hadady offers these tips to naturally condition the body before surgery:
• Herbal strength: A few weeks in advance of her operation, Hadady ramped up her intake of herbal supplements. A key herb was Yunnan Paiyao, a traditional medicine used in Chinese hospitals and by their soldiers to prevent excessive bleeding. Other herbs can be taken to help build up resistance to bacteria.
• A calm and focused mind: Stress increases inflammation and is a burden on internal organs. A calm, centered mind — attained through techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and mineral baths – can help the body weather the trauma of surgery, she says.
• Knowledge is power: While researching “Naturally Pain Free,” Letha tried alternative treatments for arthritis ranging from traditional Asian remedies to cutting-edge stem cell injections. Before her operation, Hadady asked questions and researched her hospital, doctors, the procedure, and insurance coverage. This allowed her to better prepare for the operation and gave her peace of mind.
• Follow hospital recommendations: In addition to alternative therapies, it’s important to heed the advice of one’s doctors, before and after a procedure, she says. With her supplements, Hadady restricted her vitamin C intake, which thins blood, and she received an antibiotic ointment to ward off MRSA — an antibiotic-resistant superbug that can cause life-threatening infections.
• Diet and exercise: “This may seem obvious, but it’s a message we cannot emphasis enough for overall health,” she says. One reason why replacement procedures are so prominent is due to the “sitting lifestyle” so many now have. Muscle atrophy from too much sitting can be a cause for joint-replacement, she says. “Sitting is the new smoking!”
Letha Hadady has been called the “Martha Stewart of herbs” for her expertise in traditional Asian and alternative health. The author of five books, including her latest “Naturally Pain Free,” Letha has appeared widely on TV–including CNN, Today, The View — talk radio, and the internet. Letha is an adjunct faculty member for New York Open Center, and The Renfield Center for Nursing Education, Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. She has led stress-management workshops and acted as a natural product consultant for Sony Entertainment Inc., Dreyfus, Ogilvy & Mather, and Consumer Eyes, Inc. in New York.