How to prepare for: Surgery

Surgery is not a topic that you might expect Naturopathic Doctors to address. However, in reality, we discuss surgery with our patients on a fairly regular basis.

Surgery is a necessity in many cases and I highly respect surgeons’ skill and expertise in an area where I would be unable to help my patients. However, just because I cannot perform a surgical procedure such as open heart surgery or joint replacement surgery, I do deal with patients who need to or have already undergone surgery.

Ideally, my job is to prevent you from needing to go “under the knife” In the first place. So many times I wish I could have seen a patient 5 or 10 years earlier (when they were still healthy) so I could have helped educate and inform in order to avoid health complications. I think that is probably one viewpoint that medical doctors, naturopaths, and surgeons have in common! Prevention is the most amazing cure! However, I’m thankful we have these complex procedures as back-up that can help when nothing else will.

But what is my role in surgery? If I have not been trained in these procedures, why would I even attempt to get involved? Because I am trained in healing. In optimizing the body’s ability to fight infection and in restoring health. And if those aren’t reason enough to seek a Naturopath before your surgery, I am also trained in knowing how things interact.

And so, without further ado, I would like to discuss how to prepare for surgery from a Naturopathic perspective.

1) Being as healthy as possible before surgery helps to minimize complications and healing time after.

By this advice I am mainly referring to making sure the food you eat is health promoting rather than disease promoting. In the words of Michael Pollan almost all diets can be summarized into the phrase, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. Eating a lot of vegetables and fruits in the months before surgery allow your body to feel better and heal better. Protein is also important for healing. Try hemp hearts (a local Manitoba product) for a novel plant protein source and kill two birds with one stone. And then, ask yourself, “what health habits (other than my diet) have I been neglecting?” You probably already know a few changes you need to make to affect your health. If you are struggling with this, come in for an appointment and leave the details up to me.

2) Prepare to fight bugs.

There is always a risk of infection in hospitals and that risk increases with invasive procedures such as surgery. Help the hospital staff out a little by getting your body ready to kill some microbes! Antimicrobial herbs help to boost your germ fighting power. Don’t forget garlic! It’s germ killing capabilities are as powerful as its smell. Hiyah!! Karate chop those invisible chaos creators. If supplementing rather than eating these things in food form, remember to discontinue them 1-2 weeks before surgery.

3) Vitamin C.

There is a lot of research on it preventing surgical complications. As with the herbal remedies, this supplement will also have to be discontinued at some point before your surgery but you can re-start it after surgery. Remember that vitamin C is found in many fruits such as those in the citrus family and doesn’t necessarily need to be taken as a supplement.

4) Homeopathic remedies may help with pre-surgery anxiety and post-surgery healing.

Most people have heard of Arnica and this is usually included in my post-surgery protocols for patients. However, different surgeries require different remedies and anxiety remedies are matched individually to each patient.

5) Get lots of sleep!

Remember how babies sleep significantly more when they are going through a growth spurt? Well similarly, surgery requires a lot of energy from the body. Sleep will help. And hey, when will be the next time you can use the, “sorry, I have to sleep” excuse? Never again. Use this excuse often and smile inside. 

6) Need more help? Include a Naturopathic doctor in your medical team. Book a 15-min FREE consultation with me.