5 Science-Backed Wound Healers Found in Nature

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Support your body's natural wound healing potential with potent compounds like honey, aloe vera and curcumin. Even tasty fruits like kiwi contain special enzymes to support the wound healing process

The natural biological process that occurs in your body to heal a wound is as incredible as it is complex. Four precise phases -- hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation and remodeling -- must occur in the proper sequence and with the correct timing for the wound to heal successfully, and because many factors may interfere with this process, impaired wound healing is common.[i]

During hemostasis, blood vessels are constricted and platelets aggregated to stop bleeding. The inflammatory stage follows, which includes an influx of inflammatory cells that release mediators and cytokines to trigger the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), blood clotting and reepithelialization (formation of new epithelium), which continues into the proliferative phase.[ii]

This can last for several weeks and includes the formation of granulation tissue, a key part of wound healing. The last phase, remodeling, begins about three weeks after the initial wound and may last up to one year while the wound fully heals -- assuming the process works as it should. The reality is that many factors affect wound healing.

Age, stress, smoking, nutrition, alcohol intake, medications and health conditions like diabetes and obesity may interfere with the wound healing process,[iii] and it's estimated that nearly 2.5% of the U.S. population has chronic wounds that won't heal.[iv]

Underlying health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease are associated with chronic nonhealing wounds; in these cases, addressing the health issue will help to resolve the wound. However, there are many natural compounds that also lend support to wound healing, some of which you may have in your home right now.

Nature's Top Wound Healers

1. Honey

Honey, a broad-spectrum antibacterial agent, lowers prostaglandin levels while elevating nitric oxide end products, processes that help explain honey's wound-healing powers.[v] In a study of critically ill children with pressure injuries, those treated with Manuka honey were 1.9 times more likely to have their wound completely healed than those who received only standard care.[vi]

Those treated with honey also had a shorter time to complete healing -- seven days for the honey group versus nine days for standard care -- with no allergic reactions or secondary bacterial infections noted.

2. Aloe Vera

With anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, antibacterial and antifungal properties, aloe vera's role in wound healing is well established. The aloe compound aloesin affects the inflammation, proliferation and remodeling wound healing phases and accelerated wound closure rates in animal studies.[vii] Aloe vera gel was also effective for treating diabetic ulcers[viii] and has positive effects on cesarean wound healing.[ix]

When researchers tried a mixture of aloe vera gel and aloe vera flower, it also had significant synergistic wound healing effects.[x] Even taking aloe vera orally led to accelerated wound healing compared to no treatment in a study on rats.[xi]

3. Kiwi

Kiwi fruit has antibacterial pro-angiogenic (blood vessel forming) properties, along with proteolytic enzymes. In a pilot study of 37 people with neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers, treatment with kiwi extract twice daily for 21 days led to significantly higher amounts of collagen and granulation tissues compared to the control group.[xii]

Actinidin -- protein-dissolving enzymes found in kiwi -- were also found to improve "different aspects of the wound healing process." Similar benefits of kiwi extract were found among people with bedsores,[xiii] while kiwi wound dressings for 10 days also led to better healing than normal saline irrigation for cutaneous wounds.[xiv]

4. Curcumin

Curcumin, an active compound in the spice turmeric, reduces inflammation, protects against oxidative stress and modulates phase II detoxification enzymes. It's believed that curcumin has skin regeneration and wound healing potential,[xv] with topical application accelerating wound healing compared to the control group in an animal study.[xvi]

Turmeric gel extract also leads to faster wound healing when applied topically.[xvii] At home, you can try a paste made from fresh turmeric as a natural wound treatment.[xviii]

5. L-Arginine

L-arginine, also known as simply arginine, is an amino acid that your body uses to help produce proteins. In your body, arginine is converted to nitric oxide, which helps widen blood vessels, and arginine supplementation has been found to improve blood flow to the limbs in humans as well as stimulate the release of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor, which promote wound healing.

In addition to supporting healing of cutaneous wounds, arginine may also improve the healing of fractures and impaired wounds caused by diabetes or those due to hemorrhage and trauma. One study also revealed that the wound-healing benefits of arginine may be further boosted by simultaneous consumption of omega-3 fats.[xix]

Beyond dietary and supplement measures, you can support wound healing further by engaging in healthy activities like exercise, getting quality sleep each night and reducing stress. Even engaging in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program may be beneficial for wound healing,[xx] showing that you can best promote your body's healing potential via methods that support your overall physical and mental health.


References

[i] J Dent Res. 2010 Mar; 89(3): 219-229. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903966/

[ii] NIH, StatPearls, Wound Healing Phases November 15, 2021 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470443/

[iii] J Dent Res. 2010 Mar; 89(3): 219-229. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903966/

[iv] Advances in Wound Care. March 31, 2021 https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/wound.2021.0026

[v] ScientificWorldJournal. 2011; 11: 766-787. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5720113/

[vi] Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2021 Jun 1;22(6):e349-e362. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000002611. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33181730/

[vii] Phytomedicine. 2017 May 15 ;28:19-26. Epub 2017 Mar 4. PMID: 28478809 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/aloesin-has-therapeutic-potential-treating-cutaneous-wounds

[viii] J Evid Based Integr Med. 2018 Jan-Dec;23:2515690X18772804. PMID: 29717629 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/it-recommended-clinicians-and-wound-care-nurses-use-aloe-vera-gel-instead-nige

[ix] Glob J Health Sci. 2015 Jan ;7(1):203-9. Epub 2014 Aug 31. PMID: 25560349 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/aloe-vera-gel-had-positive-effects-cesarean-wound-healing-when-used-dressing

[x] J Ethnopharmacol. 2022 Feb 16:115096. Epub 2022 Feb 16. PMID: 35182666 www.greenmedinfocom/article/synergistic-effect-aloe-vera-flower-and-aloe-gel-cutaneous-wound-healing

[xi] Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2020 Oct 1. Epub 2020 Oct 1. PMID: 33023442 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/oral-administration-aloe-vera-ameliorates-wound-healing-through-improved-angio

[xii] J Res Med Sci. 2014 Jun ;19(6):520-4. PMID: 25197293 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/pilot-study-indicated-applying-kiwifruit-neuropathic-diabetic-foot-ulcers-led-

[xiii] Indian J Surg. 2015 Dec ;77(Suppl 2):442-6. Epub 2013 Jan 31. PMID: 26730042 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/kiwifruit-simple-and-effective-method-treatment-bedsores

[xiv] J Wound Care. 2021 Sep 2 ;30(Sup9a):XVi-XVvii. PMID: 34597165 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/early-kiwifruit-dressing-improved-histological-features-cutaneous-wounds

[xv] Biofactors. 2013 Jan-Feb;39(1):141-9. Epub 2013 Jan 11. PMID: 23315856 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/review-skin-regenerative-potentials-curcumin

[xvi] Laryngoscope. 2015 Sep 29. Epub 2015 Sep 29. PMID: 26418439 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/topical-application-curcumin-enhanced-wound-healing-process-oral-ulcer-animal-

[xvii] Gac Sanit. 2021;35 Suppl 2:S196-S198. PMID: 34929810 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/effectiveness-turmeric-gel-extract-wound-healing

[xviii] Int J Low Extrem Wounds. 2005 Dec;4(4):205-13. doi: 10.1177/1534734605281674. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16286372/

[xix] Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2014 Nov 1; 3(11): 682-690. doi: 10.1089/wound.2013.0469 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4217020/

[xx] J Behav Med. 2018 Jun ;41(3):385-397. Epub 2017 Nov 20. PMID: 29159589 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction-program-might-have-beneficial-effects-early

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

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