Supplementing for Surgery

We tend to think all supplements help improve our health, but when faced with surgery, we need to be more discriminating. Nutritional therapist Sue Van Raes explains what to take—and what not to take:

Pre-Surgery: A week to 10 days before surgery, take 1,000 mg of vitamin C a day to boost the immune system and build collagen, says Van Raes. She also recommends two teaspoons of both zinc and L-glutamine daily to prepare the body for tissue rebuilding and speedier wound healing. Avoid garlic, ginger, ginkgo, ginseng, vitamin E, and cayenne pepper because all could potentially interfere with anesthesia or lead to excessive bleeding.

Post-Surgery: Minimize bruising and bleeding by applying arnica hourly around the incision site the first day. For the rest of the week, apply it four times a day. Control inflammation with 200 mg of grape-seed extract, and protect cells from anesthetics and pain medication with 60 mg of Co-Q10 per day. After surgery, your liver might get a little stagnated and cause some constipation. Van Raes suggests 280 to 560 mg of milk thistle daily to flush out your liver and cleanse your body.

Of course, talk to your doctor about what supplements you’re taking to minimize the risk of drug-supplement interactions.