Wounds and injuries to the skin are inevitable. How many times have you looked at your arm or leg and asked yourself, “How did I do that?” Wound healing is necessary, as your total body health relies on your ability to heal wounds of all sorts. Several things slow the healing of wounds including, but certainly not limited to, age, infections, poor nutritional status, poor gut health, stress and the stress hormones, thyroid and sex hormone imbalances, toxins such as tobacco and alcohol, etc.
The mechanisms to optimize your body’s ability to heal wounds are the same methods all health and well-being are reliant on, such as good sleep, stress control, gut health, low inflammatory diet, daily movement, etc. Adequate protein in your diet is essential for wound healing. 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per Kg of body weight may be required to augment wound healing.
There are some interesting and well-studied nutrients and supplements that can be of benefit. For example, the amino acid Arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide, which is used for collagen production and activates your immune system (T-cells) to assist in healing. Glutamine has multiple indications in wound healing, as it becomes an essential amino acid during rapid tissue growth such as wound healing. It also helps heal your gut, which, as mentioned before is essential in optimal wound healing. Vitamins C, E, and A, and Zinc are well-known, but there are some others you may want to talk with your doctor about to optimize wound healing. Curcumin is a great anti-inflammatory and facilitates fibrinolysis and cellular migration during wound healing. It modulates collagen, the important connective tissue needed for wound healing by decreasing reactive oxygen species. Calendula or pot marigold, the common garden flower, when used as a topical ointment or salve has great clinical evidence behind it as a wound healer due to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant abilities. It also improves blood supply and increases collagen deposition, thereby improving wound closure.
From the simplest scratch to a full-blown open laceration, keeping your most important and largest protective agent, your skin, healthy is essential for long term optimal living.
Dr. Warren Willey is a Pocatello physician. Visit his website at drwilley.com.