A wound is an injury characterized by torn skin or a cut on the skin surface. A wound damages the dermis layer present beneath the skin.
Wounds could be of various types depending upon how it occurred and is usually classified by level of contamination as follows:
- Clean wound – It is a cut or tear made on the skin under sterile conditions hence no microorganisms can infect the area, and the wound heals quickly.
- Contaminated wound – A wound that is caused by accident and often infected with undesirable microorganisms.
- Infected wound – Infected wounds are characterized by puss, redness or soreness due to the presence and multiplication of pathogens in the area.
- Colonized wound – These wounds are difficult to heal as the wound is invaded by a large number of microorganisms. Example: bedsore.
Treatment of a wound depends upon the extent and depth of it. Wounds can be managed by immediate cleaning with water and apply appropriate antiseptics.
After which proper dressing of the wound with the help of bandage is a must to avoid infection by pathogenic organisms. In many cases, antibiotic may be applied to the affected area. In extreme situations, surgical operations may be required.
It has been found that coconut oil serves as a positive healing agent for wounds. It contains therapeutic properties that are effective than antibiotics in many cases, safe and heals the wound at a faster pace.
What are coconut oil and its benefits?
Coconut oil is extracted from freshly picked coconuts before shelling and is known to possess various medicinal benefits.
Research studies have found that coconut oil promotes collagen production and repairs skin cells and can hence be used as a wound healing agent. It is natural and safe for use with no known side effects and toxicity.
Coconut trees are cultivated on a large scale, especially in tropical countries and have been known for its miraculous properties for many years.
Read detailed article on Coconut Oil Benefits here>
5 Benefits of Coconut Oil For Wound Healing
Coconut oil can help in wound healing in several ways. Coconut oil is a well known anti-inflammatory agent and promotes anti-oxidant defences. It’s anti-microbial properties help in keeping away infection of would. It also helps in the production of collagen too.
Research studies are coming up with evidence regarding its beneficial properties, some of which have been mentioned in this article on wound healing.
1. It has wound healing properties
Coconut oil has been found to be a natural, effective and safe wound healing agent.
An experimental study carried out by Nevin et al. in 2010 demonstrated that virgin coconut oil showed positive results in wound healing within 10 days of administration.
Coconut oil healed the wounds quickly by increasing collagen production. It also enhanced proliferation of cells in the damaged connective tissue layer and promoted the formation of blood vessels.
The study concluded that coconut oil contains minor components that enable it to heal wounds effectively and at a faster pace.
Another experimental study carried out by Srivastava et al. in 2008 to determine the effect of oil extracted from coconut in healing burn wounds showed that coconut oil applied in combination with another antibiotic, silver sulphadiazine, healed the burn wounds by enhancing the process of epithelial layer formation.
What does this mean?
Research studies suggest that coconut oil helps in healing wounds by enhancing formation of the damaged epithelial layer, cells of the connective tissue, formation of blood vessels and promotes collagen production.
2. It elevates antioxidant defences
Oxidative stress in wounded areas can worsen the wound and cause pain and discomfort. Anti-oxidative agents like coconut oil help in wound repair.
According to an observational study conducted by Kappally et al. coconut oil is enriched with polyphenols that impart its anti-oxidant properties. Coconut oil has been found to reduce lipid peroxidation. It reduces oxidative stress.
A comparative study proved that virgin coconut oil has more efficient antioxidant properties as compared to olive oil, copra oil, and sunflower oil. This was due to the ability of coconut oil components to increase levels of antioxidant enzymes like catalase thereby preventing oxidative stress.
Another study published in International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition revealed that the anti-oxidant effects of coconut oil depend upon the method of extraction.
The study reported that coconut oil shows antioxidant properties due to the presence of phenolic acids and their free radical scavenging activity.
What does this mean?
Coconut oil is rich in phenolic acids and polyphenol compounds that impart it its anti-oxidant properties. This can reduce oxidative stress in wounds and play an important role in their faster healing.
3. It promotes collagen production
Wounds break down the collagen fibers present underneath the skin, and thus the synthesis of collagen plays a critical role in wound healing. Recent studies have found that coconut oil promotes the production of collagen.
According to a study conducted by Nevin et al. in 2010, coconut oil promotes collagen production and increases the cross-linking of collagen fibers thereby strengthening the damaged and broken skin.
What does this mean?
Coconut oil can repair wounds faster by promoting collagen production and strengthening the damaged collagen fibers.
4. It has anti-microbial property
The main reason for delayed wound healing and chronic wounds is infection by pathogenic microorganisms. Thus it is always recommended to clean the wound and cover it with the help of a sterile bandage. Infection can be prevented by applying coconut oil to the wounded area to prevent contamination.
Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties. According to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2007 virgin coconut oil was observed to be effective against Candida, fungal species hence preventing fungal infections.
The study compared effects of coconut oil against an antifungal drug, fluconazole and found coconut oil to be more effective. The study concluded that coconut oil could replace drugs used for fungal infections to which the Candida species have become resistant.
Another study performed by Shilling et al. in 2013 showed the effects of coconut oil against bacteria, Clostridium difficile. Coconut oil has antibacterial activities, and this property has been attributed to the presence of fatty acids in it.
Oral wounds can also be cured by application of coconut oil. Research studies suggest that fatty acids inhibit the growth of oral bacteria that do not themselves produce fatty acids.
What does this mean?
Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that can prevent contamination of wounds and air in faster and efficient healing.
5. It has anti-inflammatory property
Wounds present with by redness and inflammation accompanied by pain. This can be prevented by application or consumption of coconut oil.
According to a study published in Pharmaceutical Biology in 2010 virgin coconut oil exhibits anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties by reducing tissue inflammation and serum alkaline phosphatase activity (markers of inflammation).
Another study reported that coconut oil along with other extracts of coconut could be used to treat a variety of inflammatory conditions including arthritis.
The anti-inflammatory properties were due to the ability of the extracts to reduce migration of cells to the affected area, leakage of proteins and production of inflammatory mediators like tumor necrosis factors.
What does this mean?
Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent inflammation of the wound and provide relief from pain.
Dosage of Coconut Oil For Wound Healing
Coconut oil is often topically applied in the case of wounds. There is no specific dosage. The dosage may differ depending on the infection.
0.5ml-1ml can be applied to the area regularly for at least 10 days after acquiring the injury to see positive results.
Wash the wound with cold water and clean it. Apply coconut oil gently to the wound and cover it with the help of a clean, soft cloth or bandage.
In case of rashes or burns apply the oil gently over the surface.
If you wish to include coconut oil in the diet for symptomatic relief, you can use it in your daily cooking. 1-2 tablespoons can be consumed daily as a part of your regular diet.
Coconut oil is used for cooking purposes. It can be used for baking and frying purposes too.
It is very important to take quality coconut oil for both topical and oral usage.
Read: Types of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil does not cause any adverse side effects or toxicity. However, allergic reactions may occur in rare cases. It may cause irritation, redness or itching on the skin.
Hence, one should do a skin patch test before applying the oil on the affected area to avoid any adverse reactions.
Coconut oil is considered safe for consumption and no side effects or toxicity caused by it have been reported yet. Some general precautions must be considered.
Side effects such as increased inflammation may result in certain patients in rare cases. If side effects are observed, one should immediately stop its intake.
Consult a health practitioner before taking coconut oil supplements.
Coconut oil has immense benefits that can help in healing wounds. It plays an important role in wound repair by enhancing the pace of healing and being safe at the same time.
It has all the essential properties a good healing agent must possess. It can replace antibiotics that lead to side effects or cause discomfort on the application. Thus, its use must be promoted for patients suffering from wounds and injuries.
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