By Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP
Although I’m trained in clinical social work, mental health and the experiential healing arts, I do have a big interest in physical health.
My own health, of course. And other people’s health, because I work with people and feel a great responsibility to provide accurate and useful information about health options, including the greatly awaited and wildly heralded COVID-19 vaccine.
Admittedly, I was not first in line for the vaccine. I've historically had a healthy skepticism to the arrival of every new medication on the market. I like to do my research and wanted to watch for side effects as vaccinations began in the United States. I’ve been keeping close watch on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website and other reputable sources for news on pandemic numbers, variants and treatments and talked with medical professionals that I trust, including my naturopathic doctor. Having just sailed past number two of two vaccinations, here are a few tips that I’ve learned that may make your vaccination easier to receive:
Get arnica. Arnica, sometimes called Arnica Montana, is a common homeopathic remedy that I’ve used to heal bruises, black and blue marks and general body and muscle stiffness (like shoveling snow or over-working in the garden) for years. It is an over-the-counter remedy and comes in tiny pellets or small pills as well as a cream or gel for topical use. It used to be available at only natural food stores and natural health stores but in recent years has become more mainstream and is often found in regular drug stores and of course online. I use the Boiron brand.
My naturopathic doctor suggested that I take a dosage (typically five pellets or three small pills, depending on what kind you have available) immediately before taking the vaccination and directly after, then taking additional doses every 30 minutes for the rest of the day or even longer.
Arnica has an anti-inflammatory effect inside the body and supports tissue repair, which is important because the vaccine – which is different than the typical vaccines – still causes inflammation. The and the soreness or discomfort that people often feel post-vaccination is a sign of inflammation.
For best results, it is often suggested not to consume mint or mint products (like toothpaste), coffee or chocolate, or garlic when you take arnica because these other substances, powerful in their own right, may interfere with its potency. It is always best to take homeopathic medicines in a clean mouth, free for food or flavor. You can find more information here about best practices.
I’ve also used a slight amount of arnica cream on my shoulder, avoiding the actual puncture mark, for extra focus on the injection area.
The other tips generally promote good health and are especially important to when receiving this vaccine:
Drink lots of water. Hydrate often – your body needs water to function, and a hydrated body is a happy body. Supplement your water drinking with eating fresh fruits and vegetables with high-water content, like cucumbers, watermelon and other melons, peaches and the like.
Stay away from foods that contribute inflammation to the body, most commonly wheat, corn, sugar and fried and processed foods and sugary beverages so the body can heal more quickly. However, if you know of other foods that cause sneezing or a runny nose after you eat them, stay away from them as well – at least for a few days before and after the shot.
Make it a priority to sustain a healthy immune system, including eating whole foods, avoiding inflammatory foods whenever possible, taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D-3, Vitamin B-6, and zinc. I’ve been doing all of this immune-system building and sustaining during the past year, as well as taking elderberry in various forms of tea, syrup and extract.
Continue good sanitary habits. Wash hands vigorously, thoroughly and regularly for at least 20 seconds and avoid close unprotected contact with people who are coughing, sneezing or obviously ill.
Get a reasonable amount of sleep in general and before and after the vaccination. Studies have shown that people who sleep six hours a night or less are more likely to catch a cold than those who sleep seven hours a night. Sleep helps your body produce proteins that are responsible for fighting infection and – again! – reducing inflammation.
Do whatever you can to reduce stress. Keeping a routine, exercise, staying away from negative people, stretching and being extra kind to yourself. Mindfulness meditation, an exercise that focuses on observing thoughts and emotions without judgement, is shown to decrease stress and improve focus.
Stay healthy, dear friends.
Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP, is the founder of the Lancaster School of Psychodrama and Experiential Psychotherapies in Lancaster, Pa., which teaches transformational learning in a variety of experiential methods and practices, including psychodrama, sociometry, Family and Systemic Constellations, sand tray, group skills and more. Subscribe to her e-letter for professionals and get first notice of training events, Early Bird discounts, helpful links and inspiring and supportive info. You may subscribe here.
Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP, is an author, trainer and psychotherapist who promotes, practices and teaches experiential methods including psychodrama, Family and Systemic Constellations, sand tray, mindfulness and Tarot imagery.