Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
Bruising and bleeding both occur because of damage to blood vessels. When a vein, artery, or capillary is torn or cut, blood flows out into the vessel's surroundings; if the escaped blood is contained within the tissues directly under the skin, we see a bruise.
While all of us bruise from time to time, some people bruise particularly easily. A number of factors, besides being accident-prone, can make this occur.
One factor contributing to easy bruising is thinning skin, caused by aging or by medications such as corticosteroids . Easy bruising can also be due to fragile blood vessel walls. Finally, difficulties with blood clotting, including problems with platelets or clotting factors, can also increase bruising. For this reason, strong blood-thinning drugs such as heparin and warfarin (Coumadin) can lead to excessive bruising. Warning : If you’re taking these or other anticoagulant drugs and notice increased bruising, contact your doctor, as this situation could be dangerous.
Aspirin or natural remedies, such as policosanol , ginkgo , garlic , and high-dose vitamin E , may also thin the blood, possibly raising the risk of bruising and other bleeding problems; and if you combine two blood-thinning substances, these effects might multiply.
Rarely, severe bruising from minor or unnoticed injuries can be a sign of leukemia or another serious health problem. Especially if this is a new development, discuss your symptoms with a doctor.
However, in most cases, there is no identifiable medical cause for easy bruising, and no conventional treatment. Furthermore, once you have a bruise, there is no conventional therapy to help speed its resolution.
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
A number of natural substances might be helpful for easy bruising, including citrus bioflavonoids, the related substances OPCs and bilberry, and vitamin C. In addition, if you already are bruised, you may find some help with a combination of two proteolytic enzymes, trypsin and chymotrypsin or a topical preparation, of escin (an extract of horse chestnut).
Citrus Bioflavonoids and Related Substances
Bioflavonoids (or flavonoids) are plant substances that bring color to many fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits are a rich source of bioflavonoids, including diosmin, hesperidin, rutin, and naringen; studies have found these bioflavonoids may help decrease bruising. Two types of natural compounds related to bioflavonoids—OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanidins) and anthocyanosides—have also shown promise for decreasing the tendency to bruise.
Anthocyanosides, which are present in high concentrations in bilberry, may also strengthen capillaries through their effects on collagen. Some European physicians believe that these vessel-stabilizing properties make bilberry useful as a treatment for easy bruising, but the evidence as yet is only suggestive.
Vitamin C is essential for healthy collagen; severe vitamin C deficiency, called scurvy, can lead to easy bruising. Fortunately, scurvy is extremely rare in Western countries today—but marginal vitamin C deficiency is not rare, and might lead to increased risk of bruising.
If your diet is low in fresh fruits and vegetables, you may wish to supplement it with vitamin C. In the study mentioned above, bruising in elderly people decreased significantly with 1 g of oral vitamin C given daily for 2 months.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Vitamin C article.
Trypsin and Chymotrypsin
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Proteolytic Enzymes article.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Horse Chestnut article.
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Bromelain article.
Other Herbs Used for Bruising
The herbs comfrey, arnica, and sweet clover are widely used externally on bruises and other minor injuries, but despite this traditional use, there is no real scientific evidence that they work.
Note : There are various safety concerns involved in using comfrey, arnica, and sweet clover internally. For the treatment of bruising, they are used as topical ointments and salves.
For a discussion of homeopathic approaches to easy bruising, see the chapter on bruises in the Homeopathy Database
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -