Herbal Wound Care

Herbal Wound Care

Turmeric is used in traditional medicines to treat skin wounds. Modern clinical research shows that compounds in turmeric can help reduce healing time and may even help reduce scarring(ix.85-87)

Lab, animal, and/or clinical studies suggest that oral and topical turmeric and turmeric compounds could help heal different types of skin wounds. These include: (ix.88-91)

Turmeric has even been made into wound dressings that were effective against E. coli and other bacteria. The turmeric dressing also healed wounds between 21-28.5% faster than plain agar films. (ix.85-86)

How Do Wounds Heal?

The severity of a wound will affect how long it takes to heal and risk of scarring. The deeper a wound is and the more layers of skin involved determine its seriousness. (ix.92)

Figure IX.1: Severity of Wounds

Figure IX.1: Severity of Wounds

In partial and full thickness wounds the body needs to regenerate more tissue to heal. Full thickness wounds can even involve repairing blood vessels and nerves. Deeper wounds are more likely to scar(ix.92)

The Three Stages of Healing

Healing takes place in 3 phases after an injury: (ix.92)

Figure IX.2: Phases of Wound Healing

Figure IX.2: Phases of Wound Healing



A Complex Process Involving Many Proteins and Cells

Skin and immune system cells stimulate production of a variety proteins and cells to accomplish all 3 phases. These include: (ix.92)

Table IX.5: Healing Cells and Proteins
Phase Type Examples Key Activities

Inflammatory & Cleansing

Blood Cells

  • Activated platelets
  • Trigger production of necessary proteins.

Inflammatory & Cleansing

Immune System Cells

Inflammatory & Cleansing

Proteins

  • Coagulate and slow blood flow.
  • Create mesh to form clot.
  • Kill bacteria.
  • Break down cell debris.

Proliferative Phase

Epithelial Skin Cells

  • Fibroblasts
  • Myofibroblasts
  • Keratinocytes
  • Migrate to wound site.
  • Proliferate and regenerate tissue.
  • Produce structural proteins (such as collagen and fibronectin) to support new skin layers.

Proliferative Phase

Proteins

  • Stimulate and regulate growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis).
  • Forms structural network to support capillaries.
  • Cause myofibroblasts to contract and close wound.

Maturation Phase

Proteins

  • Break down and get rid of excess blood vessels.
  • Break down and replace collagen with tighter, softer, and stronger supportive tissue.

What Hinders Healing?

A number of external and internal factors can inhibit and slow down wound healing. Many are inflammatory, deplete antioxidants, and increase free radicals — all of which interfere with normal levels of cells and proteins needed to heal wounds. These include: (ix.17405792-94)

The immune system is also affected by stress, which raises both cortisol and adrenaline levels. This may explain why stress can make wounds take a lot longer to heal. (ix.95)

Chronic wounds get stuck in the 1st (inflammatory and cleansing) phase of wound healing. On the other hand, excess or improperly replaced collagen in the proliferation and maturation phases can lead to scar tissue, including keloids(ix.8792)

How Can Turmeric Help?

Turmeric and its compounds have multiple properties that could help wounds heal better:

Table IX.6: Turmeric's Wound-Healing Activities
Actions Turmeric Compounds Importance

Adiponectin (ix.93)

Angiogenesis (ix.17)

Natural antioxidants (ix.94)

Growth factors (ix.17)

Ar-turmerone (ix.1661-62)

Curcumin (ix.1740)

Ferulic acid (ix.9496)

Linoleic acid (ix.6265)

Niacin (ix.1463)

Quercetin (ix.3862)

Resveratrol (ix.5862)

Turmeric (whole extract) (ix.61)

Vitamin E (ix.1462)

Helps Wounds Heal Faster in People with Metabolic Syndrome Conditions

  • Patients with diabetes and/or obesity have reduced levels of adiponectin, a beneficial hormone. (ix.5793)
  • Animal studies show that adiponectin helps reduce inflammation and heal diabetic wounds faster. (ix.93)
  • Diabetes increases risk of infection and slows healing. Animal studies suggest boosting natural antioxidants could help promote wound healing in diabetic patients. (ix.94)
  • In slow wound-healing situations such as diabetic wounds, angiogenesis is impaired. (ix.17)

Angiogenesis (ix.97)

Fibroblasts (ix.17)

Curcumin (ix.1797)

Ferulic acid (ix.96-97)

Rebuilds Tissue

  • New blood vessels (angiogenesis) are necessary to rebuild new skin tissue. (ix.97)
  • Animal studies show curcumin boosts levels of transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 and its receptor. These growth factor proteins help stimulate development of new small blood vessels. (ix.17)
  • Fibroblasts are skin cells that produce collagen, a protein important for skin's structural support. (ix.17)

NF-κB (ix.17)

Nitric Oxide Synthetase (NOS) (ix.85)

Alpha-linolenic acid (ix.1463)

Alpha-terpineol (ix.16)

Beta-sitosterol (ix.1463)

Borneol (ix.169698)

Caffeic acid (ix.1699)

Curcumin (ix.1785)

Eugenol (ix.1659)

Ferulic acid (ix.96-97)

Anti-Inflammatory

  • Reduces chronic inflammation. (ix.17)
  • Promotes faster wound healing. (ix.100)
  • High NOS levels are related to inflammatory conditions in both acute and chronic wounds. Lowering NOS levels helps accelerate healing. (ix.85)

Anxiety

Curcumin (ix.101)

Eugenol (ix.16102)

Farnesol (ix.65103)

Limonene (ix.16102)

Quercetin (ix.38104)

Studies show that psychological stress slows wound healing. (ix.95)

Turmeric and some of its compounds (such as 1,8-cineole, curcumin, eugenol, and geraniol) also have pain-relieving properties. Animal and clinical studies suggest turmeric could help reduce the pain of topical injuries and wounds. In one clinical study, for example, turmeric oil reduced pain from oral sores. (ix.14105-106)

Do Any Turmeric Compounds Slow Down Wound Healing?

Although study results are conflicting, animal and clinical studies suggest that using some of turmeric's compounds by themselves may do just that. It's worth noting that the following compounds could slow down wound healing:


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