Casein and Its Link to Healing Wounds
Scientists at the University College London in the UK have been doing research and they have recently published their findings in the journal Royal Society Interface.
What did they find?
They found that when bandages are infused with casein, which is a protein found in cow's milk and currently used as a weight-training supplement, can significantly speed up would healing when compared with normal dressings.
There have previously been studies suggesting that casein and its derived peptides can promote wound healing by modulating inflammation, oxidative stress, cell migration and proliferation.
In studies, bandages which have been infused with casein have shown to improve wound healing in rats.
Obviously more research will now follow to confirm the safety and efficacy of casein in human wound healing.
In the meantime, there has been another natural product which has been used to facilitate wound healing for centuries - coming to prominence during the first world war.
Manuka honey has natural antibacterial properties and is often used for wounds and treating bacterial infections.
While honey has been used to treat wounds since ancient times, it fell out of favour in the fight against infection with the advent of antibiotics.
However, with the growing challenge of resistance to antibiotics, scientists are looking afresh at the properties and potential of honey and in particular, Manuka honey.
The leaves of the Manuka tree, also known as a tea tree, have been known for centuries among the indigenous tribes of New Zealand and southern Australia for their healing powers. Bees that collect nectar from this tree make Manuka honey, which harbors some of healing properties.
All honey contains antimicrobial properties, but Manuka honey also contains non-hydrogen peroxide, which gives it an even greater antibacterial power. Some studies have found Manuka honey can also help to boost production of the growth factors white blood cells need to fight infection and to heal tissue.
Manuka honey contains a number of natural chemicals that make it different:
- Methylglyoxal (MGO): This has been shown to be effective against several bacteria, including Proteumirabilis and Enterobacter cloacae.
- Dihydroxyacetone (DHA): This is found in the nectar of Manuka flowers and converts into MGO during the honey production process.
- Leptosperin: This is a naturally occurring chemical found in the nectar of Manuka plants and a few close relatives.
Medical grade honey is already used by some healthcare professionals as part of a wound dressing as it has been found to help some kinds of wounds to heal. But experts believe that because Manuka honey has added antibacterial and healing properties, it may be even more effective.
Further research on the effectiveness of Manuka honey
One study found strong evidence that honey heals partial thickness burns around four to five days more quickly than conventional dressings. Further evidence pointed to honey being more effective than antiseptic and gauze for healing infected surgical wounds.
A further study concluded that honey has rapid diabetic wound healing properties but recommended more research to confirm that honey can be used as a "first line of treatment" for these types of wounds.
While some research does show that honey can help improve certain conditions, more studies are needed to confirm honey’s benefits for:
- Mixed acute and chronic wound
- Pressure ulcers
- Venous leg ulcers
- Minor acute wounds
However, some studies have shown that Manuka honey can fight so-called superbugs that have become resistant to antibiotics - including staphylococcus aureus (MRSA-15) and pseudomonas aeruginosa. Investigation and research continues with plenty of work to be done before scientists can come to a conclusion.