Cuts and wounds are a part of life, especially during childhood when falling from trees, tripping on concrete and running into walls are a rite of passage of sorts! They are, however, a pain (quite literally), and often cause for tears, drama, and extra cuddles in the household. While some wounds require medical attention and advice, there are some ways you can holistically compliment the healing process and make sure the graze/ouchie/boo-boo heals rapidly with minimum risk for complications and multiple trips to the store for plaster replenishments. Below are some tips to help holistically speed up the healing time for cuts and minor wounds.
First and foremost, the body needs good food to fuel the healing process. Consider including the following skin-healing wonders in the diet;
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is needed in the body for many processes, and when it comes to wound healing, the role it plays in the production of collagen is vital. Collagen is an essential component of skin and tissues and is crucial to the healing process. It is also a powerful antioxidant and is critical for healing damaged blood vessels. Opt for vitamin C rich foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, grapes, kiwi fruit, broccoli and green + red peppers and pineapple. (Pineapple is also beneficial as it contains an enzyme called bromelain, which is important in helping to reduce inflammation in the body) In some cases, it may help to supplement the diet with extra vitamin C. Speak to a health professional about what may be suitable for you or your family members.
- Green leafy vegetables: Kale, broccoli, spinach, and other greens are high in vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting. Blood clotting is an important initial stage in the healing process.
- Zinc: The chemical reactions necessary to repair skin require zinc. Protein metabolism depends on zinc and protein is needed for healing. Consider eating zinc-rich foods such as oysters, beef, pumpkin seeds, legumes, eggs, whole grains and spinach.
- Essential fatty acids: Essential fatty acids are critical to helping rapidly heal wounds. Essential fatty acids can be found in oily fish, nuts and seeds, flaxseed oil and avocados.
Avoid foods that slow down healing such as;
- Alcohol and coffee: Both of these drinks increase inflammation which does not promote healing. Alcohol and coffee also both have diuretic effects, causing the body – including the skin cells – to lose fluid and essential minerals for healing.
- Sugar and refined grains: These promote inflammation and can slow healing.
- Hydrogenated oils: Processed foods contain hydrogenated fats which also promote inflammation and potentially decrease the body’s ability to optimally heal.
- Processed foods: These may contain ingredients (preservatives, chemicals and dyes) which can potentially slow wound healing.
- Applying aloe vera gel topically. It has excellent soothing, healing and moisturising properties.
- Drink 2 litres of purified water daily to keep the skin well hydrated during the healing process.
- If possible, ensure that regular exercise is maintained as it increases blood flow, improves general health and speeds wound healing.
- After cleaning the wound, consider a daily application of tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties.
- If weather and schedule permits, swim in the sea! Salt water helps to speed up the healing process.
- Raw Manuka honey is an excellent natural remedy to help heal cuts quickly and prevent infections. It can be applied directly to minor wounds and abrasions and then be covered by a bandage or plaster.
We shouldn’t avoid living an adventure-filled life in the name of avoiding cuts, bumps and scrapes along the way, but armed with some basic guidelines, we can be confident we can speed up the healing process to enable us all to continue living a, generally band-aid free, full-life!
As always, speak to a health professional before adding in any new supplements to the diet. If you are at all concerned about the healing of your cut or wound, please visit your GP or if after hours, your emergency room. The above recommendations are a general guide only, please speak to a health professional for advice specific to your case.