Definition: Mortification or death to a part of the body due to interference with and failure of the local blood supply.
Symptoms: The moist type gangrene begins with inflammation, with the dying or dead tissues becoming bluish or black. The dry gangrene results from contracted arterioles where circulation is poor, and it begins with yellow or black spotting in the tissue. [SNH p.25]
Cause: Gangrene is the advanced condition of blood poisoning. [SNH p.25]
Herbal Aids: General Instructions: This condition will never happen to a person who has good blood circulation and whose blood has been cleansed. Soak the afflicted area with marshmallow root tea, covering the area with tea as hot as the patient can take and leave it there for long periods of time. Soaking works faster than the poultice or the tea, but drinking the tea along with the soaking will speed the action. Plantain used as a poultice is also excellent. Pain in the infected part can be relieved by adding a small amount of lobelia. Be sure that the bowels move properly by cleansing them with the lower bowel tonic [Lower Bowel]. [SNH p.25]
Red Oak: Apply the powdered bark as a poultice. [SNH p.139]
Marshmallow: Obstinate inflammation and threatened mortification (gangrene). Apply a poultice of the powdered or fresh crushed roots on the affected area as hot as possible and renew it before it dries. The poultice will be more effective with the addition of slippery elm (Ulmus fulva). [SNH p.327]
Gangrenous Wounds (will arrest gangrene): See formula for slippery elm, brewer's yeast and raw milk. [SNH p.338]
Offensive Gangrenous Wounds or Sores (antiseptic poultice): See formula using slippery elm and vegetable charcoal. [SNH p.338]
Again Marshmallow and Slippery Elm: Most herbalists have not used Marshmallow for gangrene as thoroughly as Dr. Christopher, so his discovery is an important addition to herbal practice. He mentioned that the addition of slippery elm powder to a hot root-poultice on gangrene will greatly enhance the action of the herb. Do not allow the poultice to become cold, but reapply a new one (or supply new fresh, hot tea, after the cold soak). This can safely be used on open sores without danger of contamination. [UW-Marshmallow]
Dr. Shook's Excellent Liniment of Peppermint: See formula using olive oil, oil of peppermint, menthol crystals and flowers of camphor. [UW-Peppermint]
Marshmallow Root Powder: This is an invaluable herb which can be used as an herbal food as well as a soothing bath for helping to heal the worst of open sores, especially gangrene. Marshmallow root powder can be reconstituted and used as a drink (a tea or thicker if desired) that can keep one from starvation. [NL 3-1]
Cabbage Leaf Dressing: In 1875 a 75 year old man suffered arteriosclerotic gangrene of the lower right leg and foot. The skin was black and the front of the lower leg was decayed. Following the local application of cabbage leaf dressings, the skin changed from black to brown to red, and then returned to its normal healthy color. Three weeks later, writes doctor Blanc, there was a considerable improvement. [NL 4-12]
Echinacea: Echinacea is especially useful in gangrene and sloughing of the soft tissues, as well as in glandular ulcerations and ulcers of the skin. Foul-smelling discharges are deodorized by it and the odor removed from cancers and ulcers; it has been proven to have helped in mammary cancer (Ell:359). A concentrated preparation of the root, excluding its sugar, called "echafolta," was used in these cancer [NL 6-12]
Testimonials: 1. The Carrot Poultice is Good for Man or Beast: Traveling from our office in Evanston, Wyoming, a number of years ago, I had to go over to Woodruff on a house call, to a family that was very, very sick. They improved so rapidly and were so pleased with our program that it was with some reluctance and embarrassment that the man said to me "Would it insult you if we asked you something about an animal?" I said, "No, we're good for man or beast." He said that he had a favorite horse outside that got tangled up in the barbed wire. "The vet was here yesterday and used the last ointments, salves and things that he knew about, and then he said there was only one thing more left to do, as the gangrene is setting in, so just shoot the horse." Well, this lovely animal was part of the family. They had quite a few children, and they still loved the horse, so he said "What can we do?" So we went out and looked at the horse's leg. I said "All right, you have been taking carrot juice and you have some pulp there and a ton or so of carrots that you have brought in from your field, just grind up carrots and make a great big poultice and cover that horse's leg. That will do him good, and then give the horse all the carrots it can eat." Within seven days time that horse's leg was completely healed. The flesh was fully restored. [SNH p.266]
2. Gangrenous Limb: We had a case where a man had injured his leg and gangrene had set in. He went to a medical doctor, who insisted that it should be amputated. That he refused to do, and he came to us. We dug up a large quantity of marshmallow root in the yard, sufficient to make enough decoction to completely submerge the leg in the liquid and after just a number of hours, the tissue returned to normal. This is the plant that people keep trying to weed out of their yards. It has big, deep roots which gather generous amounts of minerals and nutrients. [SNH p.332]
3. Scorched Foot Turns Gangrenous: A young woman in Yakima, Washington, had lost feeling in her feet. One day she was standing on a floor register and didn't realize how hot it was. She scorched one foot so badly that it had become raw and infected. Gangrene set in and the infection had gone up past her foot and into her ankle, and partway up her knee. She was under the care of the county financially, and when the county agent saw her foot in this gangrenous state he insisted that she go to the hospital and have her leg amputated. At the hospital, all agreed that only amputation could solve the problem; there was not cure for it. She refused, saying she had a friend who could get the gangrene out of the foot. They argued back and forth, and they finally gave her 48 hours to heal the problem.
One of Dr. Christopher's students lived in Yakima and knew the cure for gangrene, but she called him for additional help. He gave her step-by-step instructions on what to do. She was find marshmallow plants, pull them up, and use the entire plant, root to flowers, as a tea with from a tablespoon to an ounce of cayenne added. In this tea she was to soak her leg for thirty minutes, as hot as the girl could stand it, in a large container so that when the foot was submerged, it could cover the entire place of infection, right up to the knee. After the thirty-minute soak, she was to put the foot into a container of cold water, as cold as could be taken from the tap, and leave it there for five minutes, which would give her friend time to have ready a new pot of marshmallow tea to put the foot back into. This cycle of 30 minutes tea, five minutes water, should be repeated throughout the day, a rather strenuous procedure, but necessary in such an extremity. At night, they could put a wet compress on the infection while the girl slept.
The next morning, the whole procedure would be repeated until the infection was clear. In the morning, the pain was already gone. Within forty-eight hours, the gangrene had left the ankle and foot, and there was just a small amount showing in one of the toes. The county agent said to continue with the program and he would keep in touch to see how she was progressing. The girl was completely cleared. [EWH p.132]
4. Blood Clot and Gangrene Gone: One time, a doctor called Dr. Christopher from one of the largest hospitals in Seattle, Washington. He had traced him down by calling Mrs. Christopher, as the Doctor was lecturing throughout the country, often only one night in one place. The Doctor was then on the West Coast. The medical man asked the Doctor how he might save the leg of a patient with a case of blood clotting associated with gangrene. This was located in the leg and because of the gangrene, the hospital staff wanted to cut off the leg; the medical doctor wished to save it. Dr. Christopher told him to put an oak bark fomentation on the blood clot and a Marshmallow fomentation on the gangrene. He promised the doctor that the blood clot would be cleared within twenty four hours (that's quite a promise!). The clot had been bad enough that the hospital staff decided to do bypass surgery, but then they noticed that the gangrene had set in on the bottom of the leg, on the foot and the ankle. When they decided to cut off the leg, the woman's daughter refused; thus the doctor had called Dr. Christopher.
The medical doctor called Dr. Christopher back a week later and told him that the blood clot had truly cleared itself within twenty-four hours. When you've got a bad blood clot that is stopping circulation which can be cured in twenty-four hours, it is quite an accomplishment. Also the Marshmallow fomentation on the leg had pulled the gangrene out so that the green and black in the ankle and the foot were all gone, except for a little around the toes. Later the woman's daughter called Dr. Christopher and told him that the clot and gangrene had completely cleared when the woman got the one problem that frequently occurs in the hospital--pneumonia. The staff was concentrating on fighting the pneumonia and forgot all about the gangrene and so it came back, even though it had previously cleared. They used the same treatment to clear it again. [UW-Marshmallow]
5. Miracle Marshmallow: Dr. Christopher was giving a one week series of lectures in Seattle a few years back, and after the Friday night talk, most of the people were standing around talking to each other, some leaving, when a young man came in the door pushing a wheel chair. In this chair was a man about seventy years old with a lap robe thrown over his legs. He was wheeled down to the podium, and the man in the chair motioned for Dr. Christopher to come down. He introduced himself as the president of the Northwestern Spiritualist Church organization. He was scheduled to go to the hospital the following Wednesday to have his legs amputated just below the hips. The gangrene was up partway to his knees by this time and by the time they could get him into the hospital, they estimated that the infection would be so high that it would necessitate taking the legs off just below the hips.
"I do not want to lose my legs," he said. Having heard of others being helped by Dr. Christopher, he asked, "Would you please help me save my legs?" Dr. Christopher asked the young man pushing the chair to come outside with him to the parking lot. There was Marshmallow growing, just handy to show to him. I asked the young man if he knew what it was, and he said, "Yes, it is cheesies; I have been digging it out of the garden and field all day." When asked if there was more that had not been dug yet, he laughingly said, "Acres of it." Dr. Christopher took him back inside to give instructions on the procedure to save the legs. They should gather bushels of Marshmallow herb and root, shake or quickly rinse the roots off, and simmer in large buckets or pots made of stainless steel, unchipped enamel, or other inert substances--never aluminum or copper. They should make gallons of tea from these herbs. Then they should place it in a large container where the tea would come up almost to the knee, such as a five-gallon can with the top out, tall waste baskets, etc. Put the tea in as hot as can be borne without damaging skin tissue, and use one container for each leg, filled as high as possible. Into the tea, they should put an ounce or more of cayenne pepper. After soaking the legs for thirty minutes in the hot tea, they should take them out and place them into buckets of ice water--or water as cold as it can be obtained. Leave the legs in the cold water five minutes, then back into the fresh Marshmallow root tea, with cayenne, as above. This should be continued, thirty minutes hot and five minutes cold all day long; by nightfall, the extreme pain should be alleviated enough to apply fomentations over the legs, covered with oiled silk, plastic, or waxed paper. These fomentations are made best by soaking a Turkish towel or gauze in the very hot tea, lightly wringing it out just so that the tea will not run out of it, and placing as hot as possible without blistering over the area. People sometimes apply a hot water bottle or other source of moist heat (never dry heat) to continue the warming, healing influence of the fomentation. This fomentation should be kept on the legs all night long.
The next morning, the soaking program should begin again, and should be continued until complete healing occurs, so that even the scars are gone. During this time, the patient was to drink at least three cups of Marshmallow root tea per day and to stay on juices and distilled water. Food taken should be of the mucusless diet, that is, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds, raw or low heated. Zone therapy could also be applied to speed the action, but never on the afflicted area. If the gangrene occurs on the leg, for example, do reflexology on the arm on the same side, and in the area of the malfunction on the other extremity if it too is not affected.
The men promised to apply this therapy. When Dr. Christopher returned to the area for another week's lecture the following month, a man came down to the front of the hall and asked permission to speak. He said that the Doctor probably would not remember him, but that the last time, he had been brought to the lecture in a wheelchair prior to having his legs amputated for gangrene. He followed the instructions, and using the herbs the good Lord had placed on earth to heal mankind, his legs had been completely healed. He stood there and stomped both feet on the floor so people could see that they were his own, not artificial. This man was quite emotional during his short talk, but he convinced a roomful of people how Marshmallow is truly a great herb. [UW-Marshmallow]
See Also: Lower Bowel: Dr. Christopher's Lower Bowel (Colon) Formula