The ABCs of Recovery | VitaMedica
The ABCs of Recovery Support

The ABCs of Recovery Support

When preparing for surgery or sidelined from a sports injury, your doctor is more likely to provide you with information on nutritional supplements to discontinue than information on supplements that could help improve your recovery. If you’re lucky, you might be handed a laundry list of vitamins and minerals that can help; only now you’re left juggling multiple bottles and tablets. 


Maximizing recovery doesn’t have to be that complicated.  In fact, supplementing for recovery can be as simple as the ABCs.  But, first let’s see why good nutrition is so important during the recovery period.


Good Nutrition Supports Faster Healing

Whether it’s from an injury or planned surgical procedure, wound healing sets off a complex chain of events that involves increased demand for nutrients. This activity requires a number of vitamins, minerals and other chemical cofactors to complete its job. Without these building blocks, wound healing takes longer and may be compromised. 


For a wound to heal successfully, you’ll need adequate amounts of several nutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals.  If you don’t meet your body’s nutritional needs, you may be at risk for increased bruising and swelling, delayed wound healing, and other wound-related complications. 


Recovery Guidelines – Everything You Need to Know


While our bodies have remarkable innate mechanisms for healing, the efficiency of this process diminishes as we age.  For this reason, older patients are also more susceptible to wound healing problems.  Diabetics and smokers also have impaired wound healing.


Additionally, anesthetic agents that are used during surgery generate a significant number of free-radicals.  These unstable oxygen molecules must be neutralized or eliminated by the body to prevent damage to healthy cells.  Specific antioxidants, supplied in supplement form, can support the body’s ability to handle free-radicals.


Unfortunately, the standard American diet is consistently lacking the fruits and vegetables that provide these essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.


Your Regular Multi Doesn’t Cut It

So, if you’re lacking in essential nutrients, can’t you just cover the gaps in your diet by taking a daily multi?  The simple answer is no.  That’s because a regular multi is not designed to support your body’s needs following surgery.


First, a regular multi is usually formulated with vitamin E.  While this fat-soluble nutrient is an excellent antioxidant and confers a number of health benefits, it is not recommended during the peri-operative period because it can promote bleeding.


Second, a regular multi will not have sufficient amounts of the micronutrients to help repair and build new tissue; eliminate the free-radicals that are generated by surgery; and boost the immune system which is typically compromised following surgery.


Third, a multi-vitamin & mineral won’t help with the bruising, swelling and inflammation that often accompanies a surgical or non-surgical procedure.


Recovery is as Simple as the ABCs

As it turns out, three nutrient groups will help you get back on your feet faster including Arnica Montana, Bromelain and Clinical Support.  Read below to learn how each of these ABCs helps with bruising, swelling, inflammation and wound healing.


A – Arnica Montana

Arnica Montana is daisy-like plant native to Europe, Asia and North America that is sometimes referred to as the “mountain daisy” or “leopard’s bane”. 


Fresh and dried arnica flowers have been crushed and used for medicinal purposes since the 1500s to treat a number of ailments including stomach aches, insect bites, bruises, swelling, sprains and sore muscles.  The Arnica Montana plant contains compounds that are especially important for the reduction of bruising and swelling from soft tissue injury.


While there are a variety of different products and uses for arnica, homeopathic Arnica Montana is the most common preparation designed for use as a natural treatment for bruising.


Arnica is believed to increase the flow of blood around bruised tissue causing escaped fluids to be absorbed by the body.  The absorption of the fluids makes black and blue marks go away faster and reduces the swelling by relieving the pressure on nerve endings.


In accordance with the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States (HPUS), patients are directed to begin taking Arnica Montana immediately following soft tissue injury or a procedure.  There is no evidence to suggest that taking Arnica before a procedure will offer greater benefit, although for convenience, dosing may begin the day before your procedure.


Due to their delicate nature, homeopathic preparations are always delivered sublingually (i.e. under the tongue).  When taking homeopathic tablets, drop the tablets into the lid of the bottle (not in your hand) and place the tablets under your tongue. This prevents the medication from rubbing off into your hand.


How much do I take?

Dosing frequency for Arnica increases in relation to the severity of bruising.  For a product like VitaMedica’s Arnica Montana Blister Pack, which is designed specifically for injectables and fillers, you will take 4 tablets twice daily. 


For larger or more invasive procedures for which VitaMedica’s Arnica Montana 30X bottle or Arnica Anti-Bruise Kit may be better suited, you will take 3 tablets, three times per day until bruising subsides.


Both oral and topical arnica is recommended due to the visibility of the face and resulting bruising and swelling.  Check out VitaMedica’s Arnica Anti-Bruise Kit.


What types of procedures will benefit?

– Sprains and strains

– Injectables and fillers (e.g. Botox® and Restylane®)

– Non-surgical or minimally invasive procedures like facial laser treatments or blepharoplasty (e.g. Fraxel® or eyelid surgery)

– Facial or dental surgery


B – Bromelain with Quercetin

Historically, bromelain has been used in both folk and modern medicine as a digestive aid and as a natural anti-inflammatory. 


Bromelain can be used for many different conditions but it has documented therapeutic effects in the treatment of inflammation, particularly after dental surgery and for chronic inflammation of the nose and sinuses. 


Studies have shown that bromelain can help reduce inflammation after surgery, reduce swelling after dental surgery, and reduce post surgical swelling.


Other conditions that involve inflammation like acne, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis may also benefit from supplementation with bromelain.


Quercetin is a type of flavonoid – a plant pigment that gives plants and fruits their color – that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 


Quercetin, found concentrated in foods such as onions and apples, reduces the manufacture and release of histamine and other allergic and inflammatory mediators. This flavonoid is also a potent antioxidant and may help protect against diseases like heart disease and cancer.


Studies have shown that systemic enzymes for inflammation (like bromelain) combined with quercetin, produce greater anti-inflammatory benefits than either one used alone. Thus, the combination of bromelain and quercetin is ideal for effectively inhibiting the inflammatory response in both acute and chronic inflammatory conditions.


Both bromelain and quercetin supplements are relatively easy to find.  But these products are typically sold in combination with other enzymes (e.g., papain, amylase) or antioxidants (vitamin C), and are not as effective in relieving inflammation.


Since bromelain and quercetin are recommended to be taken together for maximum anti-inflammatory benefit, formulas that contain both ingredients are ideal.  This also simplifies the dosing schedule and reduces the total number of capsules needed to be taken throughout the day.


How much do I take? 

VitaMedica’s Bromelain with Quercetin combines both anti-inflammatory supplements into one convenient formulation.


To be effective, at least 3,000 MCUs of bromelain must be consumed in divided amounts during the course of a day.


To ensure that the bromelain works on the site of injury and not in aiding digestion, it is best to take it on an empty stomach. 


For quercetin, dosing is measured in milligrams (mg).  The recommended dosage varies based on the type and extent of the issue to be treated.  Dosages can range from 500 – 2,500 mg per day, in divided doses.


Bromelain should be taken 72 hours or 3 days prior to surgery.   Bromelain should be continued for 7 days following surgery.  Following trauma or injury, Bromelain should be started as quickly as possible and continued for 10 days.


What types of procedures will benefit?

– Sprains and strains

– Sports injuries

– Less invasive surgical procedures like arthroscopic knee surgery

– Facial or dental surgery

– Minimally invasive cosmetic procedures like eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) and breast augmentation.


C – Clinical Support Program

Clinical Support Program is a specialty multi-nutrient formula developed by David H. Rahm, M.D., VitaMedica’s founder and medical director, for his surgical patients.


Clinical Support is designed to promote wound healing, enhance immune system function and reduce oxidation generated by surgery and anesthetic agents.


This nutraceutical features key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants at much higher, yet safe, levels than a typical multi to restore damaged tissue. 


Importantly, the specialty formula excludes vitamin E and other herbals which can be problematic and should be avoided around the time of surgery.


The two-part program is formulated with extra vitamin A, vitamin C & bioflavonoids, copper, selenium, and zinc to support healing.  The formula also uses chronotherapy to provide the right nutrients at the right time of day.  This approach takes into consideration that our bodies’ requirements for certain nutrients differ based on the time of day. 


For this reason, the morning formulation contains the bulk of vitamins (especially the B-complex) to support daytime activity levels.  Conversely, the evening formulation contains the bulk of minerals to promote rest and relaxation.


How much do I take? 

The recommended dosing is 3 tablets, taken with breakfast or lunch and 3 tablets taken with dinner or before bedtime.


Patients should begin taking Clinical Support Program 14 days prior to surgery and continue taking the product 14 days following surgery, or for one month following an injury.  


If a surgery is scheduled in fewer than 14 days, Clinical Support Program can still be beneficial. However, it is optimal to start taking the product 2 weeks before surgery so that the fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin A and vitamin K can be stored in the body.


What types of procedures will benefit?

– Individuals with impaired wound healing, particularly diabetics, smokers and recent corticosteroid users

– Comprehensive surgeries such as a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)

– Breast lift, breast reduction or breast reconstruction

– Facelift

– Liposuction or Cellulaze

– Nose reshaping (rhinoplasty)


Putting it all Together

Based on the above, Arnica is used primarily for bruising, Bromelain for inflammation and swelling and Clinical Support for wound healing.  So, if you’re having a procedure that involves some bruising & swelling, such as a eyelift, then you’ll want to reach for the “A” (Arnica) and “B” (Bromelain).  If you’re scheduled for a more comprehensive surgery, let’s say a tummy tuck, where there’s more significant wound healing, then you’ll want to grab the “A”, “B” and “C”.


Remember, the demands on the body are much higher during the healing process and it is important to eat healthy during this period of surgery preparation and recovery.  But you can take a proactive approach by remembering your ABC’s.  Augmenting your diet with VitaMedica’s Arnica Montana, Bromelain with Quercetin and Clinical Support Program will help simplify and speed the healing process. 


For more information, refer to the Recovery Products section of our website.


David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.