Conventional treatments face an uphill struggle
Treating wounds for diabetics is more than just a case of pop on a bit of cream and a plaster and it'll be all right. It is not only that the wounds are slow to heal, they often go unnoticed for a longer period of time due to the diabetic neuropathy that prevents patients from feeling the pain of the wound and by the time they do it is usually infected. Wound healing is slow because of a weakened immune system and the blood flow to the wound is often restricted, blocking the healing process even further.
Conventional medicine treatment involves cleaning wounds in the same way as a normal wound would be treated, but then antibiotic creams are usually used immediately in an attempt to prevent infection. The treatment is far from ideal as many of the common bacteria found in wounds are becoming increasingly resistant to treatments.
Honey - antimicrobial and release of hydrogen peroxide
Honey has always been a traditional pomade for wound healing and in May we ran a blog on new studies that showed honey can destroy antibiotic resistant infections such as MRSA. In August we reported on a new study that showed that curcumin can destroy cytomegalovirus and could be an important antimicrobial for an ageing population.
Patients with diabetes tend to suffer from complications in the lower body including sores and wounding. Foot ulceration is the most common problem and it can turn into diabetic gangrene if not treated correctly which then leads to amputation. Diabetic ulcers are becoming an even greater problem due to microbial resistance.
Honey contains natural substances that have antimicrobial properties and lead to the production of hydrogen peroxide. One of the greatest assets of honey is that its use does not lead to microbial resistance. A new review published in Evidence -Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine details some excellent clinical cases where honey has been used to successfully treat foot ulcers in diabetic patients. The review also lists and gives references to many lab studies that have shown honey to be effective against many of the pathogens that are commonly found in wounds. It also explains the limitations of the most common conventional substances that used to treat wounds. The review also includes some good guidelines on how to use honey to treat wounds although our advice would be to see a professional naturopath on this rather than attempt it at home.
Curcumin - anti-inflammatory and stimulates blood vessel production
Curcumin, also known as turmeric, is known to have an effect on the production of new blood vessels in humans as well as having anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. A new paper published in the Journal of Surgical Research reports on the effects of a topical treatment of curcumin on diabetic wound healing. Curcumin was applied to the wound once a day for 19 days and results were compared to a topical treatment with no active ingredient and a control group. Results showed that the curcumin led to the wound closing much more quickly and formed tissue and a regenerated epithelial layer more quickly and better formation of blood vessels as early as day 3. The researchers conclude that the curcumin led to better wound healing and that this was due to various factors and not an individual curcumin property
Could a combination of the two be even better?
We didn't find any studies that have used curcumin and honey together but it would be interesting to know if the combined effect is greater than the individual treatments. As global antibiotic resistance increases, these traditional treatments may well come into their own.