- Alternative & Natural Medicine
Herbs to heal minor cuts and wounds
Honey-the natural healer
An acute wound results from a breach in the integrity of the skin that occurs due to surgical incisions and traumatic skin injury, including burns.
Maintaining skin integrity is vital for protection against dehydration, bleeding and ingress of microbes. In order to do this, a sophisticated mechanism has been developed to quickly plug the gap, re-epithelialize over the defect and rapidly replace the lost dermis with new matrix.
Healing by primary intention refers to wounds where the edges have been brought in apposition by sutures, there is a good blood supply and no contamination or debris.
Healing by secondary intention occurs when a wound is allowed to heal on its own from the edge without surgical closure. Minor cuts, wounds and abrasions heal in this manner. In such cases, parts of the skin dermis, hair follicles and other skin structures have been left intact and provide a rapid source of epidermal regeneration.
There are many herbs and natural substances present in our shelves that can heal such wounds without producing scarring. You just have to clean the wound with either soap and water or a mild antiseptic solution (chlorhexidine) and then apply any one of these.
Honey-the golden antiseptic
Honey has been used for centuries to hasten wound healing. It is also helpful in treating burns, pressure sores and infected wounds.
Fresh unprocessed honey, when applied to to the wounds twice a day, destroys harmful bacteria and fungi that commonly thrive on wounds and cause a delay in their healing.
Honey is a natural antiseptic; it is hygroscopic in nature, that is, it can absorb large quantities of fluid, thus reducing wound swelling. It has enzyme catalase, that promotes debridement of wounds. It also promotes granulation and restores the skin surface of wounds.
It is these inherent properties that provide an exceptional healing power to this golden colored liquid.
Application of honey can lead to contact allergies in those who are sensitive to its constituents, else it is a safe natural healing agent. So perform a patch test applying a small quantity of it on your back or behind the ear lobe. If within 72 hours of application, the area tested turns red, gets itchy or shows swelling, then it means your skin is allergic to honey and you should avoid using it.
Aloevera - the miracle plant
Aloevera leaves produce two substances- a gel and a juice or latex.The gel is obtained from the inner part of the leaf and has been used topically for treatment of wounds and burns. The juice or latex refers to a bitter yellow fluid extracted from specialized areas of the inner leaf and is dried into powder form that has very potent laxative effects.
Aloevera reduces burning, itching and scarring associated with radiational dermatitis.
It also accelerates healing of chronic leg ulcers, surgically induced wounds and frostbites.
Aloevera increases blood flow to the wounded skin reducing the risk of further damage.
Salicylic acid present in aloevera serves as an analgesic (pain reliever) and an anti-inflammatory agent. Magnesium lactate present in it reduces itching.
Aloevera also destroys bacteria, fungi and other microbes present on wounds.
The only major side effect of its application is contact sensitization in persons allergic to its constituents.
Calendula Extracts Stimulate Collagen Formation
Calendula officionalis or the common garden marigold is a natural antiseptic, an immunomodulator and stimulates granulation and collagen formation, when applied to fresh cuts and wounds.
Calendula extracts are used in the treatment of wounds, ulcers, burns, boils, rashes, chapped hands, herpes zoster and varicose veins. It also helps relieve diaper rash. For this, calendula containing ointment or cream has to be applied several times a day on the wounded site.
Its gargles also offer a popular remedy to cure sore throat. Gargle solution is made by mixing calendula tincture in water.
The anti-inflammatory and healing effects of calendula are thought to be due to the triterpenoids contained in it.
The main adverse effect of calendula is eczema and sensitization in those allergic to it.
Tannins to dry up the weeping wounds
English walnut leaf, goldenrod, Labrador tea, lavender, mullerein, oak bark, Chinese rhubarb, St john's wort and yellow dock are some of the herbs that contain tannins which act as astringents and help to dry oozing and bleeding wounds.
Abrasions On Elbow And Lower Arm
Factors that delay wound healing process
A non-healing wound is a cause of great concern and morbidity. Certain conditions lead to delay in the normal wound healing process. These include-
- Underlying unrecognized or untreated disease - Certain diseases like uncontrolled diabetes,peripheral vascular disease, cardiac problems, low immunity, polyarteritis nodosa (PAN), vasculitis associated with rheumatoid disease and genetic abnormalities such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome may contribute to impaired wound healing.
- Aging - Wound healing in elderly progresses slowly. Incisions in older individuals have a lower tensile strength and chances of post operative dehiscence (gaping or opening up of wounds) are high.
- Cancers - Certain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) may ulcerate. Malignant or cancerous changes can develop in a chronic non-healing ulcer and will cause failure to heal and progressive enlargement.
- Nutritional status - Protein malnutrition is a major factor that delays wound healing. Viatmin deficiency,particularly in case of vitamin-C, impairs the speed and strength of wound healing due to markedly reduces collagen synthesis and decreased resistance to infections. Trace element deficiency that occurs in malabsorption and alcoholism, may have adverse effects on healing process. Zinc deficient wounds are abnormally weak and slow to heal. Iron deficiency causes anaemia and lack of oxygen supply to the wounded region, interferes with bacterial killing and increases the risk of wound infection. Nutritional support maintains immunity, reduces risk of infections and facilitates wound healing, especially in cancer patients.
- Medicines - Corticosteroids, anticoagulants, cytotoxic agents, aspirin, colchicine, penicillamine and cyclosporine impede the healing of wounds.
- Surgical or artifactual factors - Faulty apposition of wound margins due to poor surgical technique, failure to remove implanted foreign material and contact allergy to dressings may also impair the wound healing process.