Wound healing is a self-repairing process of the skin and other tissues lying underneath the surface upon infliction of an injury.
A wound can be formed on the skin by impacts like cuts, tearing or punctures.
These impacts may result in injury on the epidermis or deeper. The intensity of the wound is directly related to the time required for a wound to heal. Deeper the wound, longer the duration of its healing.
Wound healing involves a series of phases. These phases include clotting of blood at the site of the wound followed by inflammation of the tissue to degrade dead cells, pathogens, and other debris.
The growth of new tissue takes place followed by tissue reorganization, i.e., restoration of the tissue as it was before the wound.
The process of wound healing takes time making the wound susceptible to infection. Microorganisms from the air or other sources may come in contact with the injury due to poor dressing or covering of the wound.
The microorganisms thrive in the wound discharge as it provides them with the nutritious environment for their growth. This further delays the process of healing, especially when one's immune system is weak. Eventually, it may also lead to chronic wounds.
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What is argan oil?
Argan oil is the oil extracted from the seeds of the argan tree (Argan spinosa). This tree is native to the Mediterranean country, Morroco.
Argan oil is of two types; one is used in culinary while the other in cosmetics. The culinary oil is obtained from the roasted seeds.
The oil used in cosmetics is extracted from the raw, unroasted seeds.
This oil has been used since ages in the Mediterranean countries for cooking and skin care. This oil is believed to have anti-aging properties, useful in reducing wrinkles.
It is also believed to be an excellent moisturizer for skin and hair. Nowadays skincare and hair-care products with argan oil have found a large consumer base all over the world.
Benefits of Argan Oil in Wound Healing
Argan oil is a rich source of vitamin-E, unsaturated fatty acids, sterols, and terpenols. These compounds possess properties against cancer and skin diseases. These compounds also have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and anti-microbial actions. The combination of many of these properties acts together in the facilitation of the process of wound healing.
1. Argan oil is rich in natural antioxidants
The anti-oxidant property of this oil is mainly owed its vitamin-E components α-tocopherol & γ-tocopherol. These compounds are potent anti-oxidants.
Vitamin-E is naturally present in the skin as an anti-oxidant and helps to prevent damage to the skin due to oxidative stress such as UV light exposure.
In case of wounds, oxidative stress is caused by macrophages during the healing process and also upon invasion by pathogens leading to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Also, the natural vitamin-E present in the skin reduces at the site of wound posing a hindrance in recovery.
One of the studies has shown the potential of argan oil in healing burn-wounds in rats. This oil could increase the expression of TGF-β1 (a growth factor). TGF-β1 helps in wound contraction, promoting the healing process.
Tocopherols have also shown anti-oxidant effects against vitamin-E related deficiencies.
Triterpenes are also known to fasten the wound healing mechanism by the excavation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Argan oil constitutes of triterpenes like tirucallol, lupeol etc.
In addition, squalene, an argan oil component is capable of quenching free radicals produced due to oxidative stress.
What does it mean? This means taking argan oil as a dietary supplement can enrich the skin with vitamin-E or other compounds to fasten the wound healing.
2. It has natural anti-microbial action
The anti-microbial action of this oil is due to many compounds like tocopherol, fatty acids, and sterols.
Infection of the wound by bacteria like Staphylococcus is widespread leading to delay in healing. Therefore, it is essential to prevent microbial growth in the scars.
In one study, α-tocopherol (a therapeutic component found in argan oil) has been found to have an inhibitory effect on Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
In another study, it was found to enhance the antibiotic effect of some drugs against resistant bacteria by causing changes in the membranes of the bacterial cells.
Many fatty acids such as oleic acid, myristic acid, lauric acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid etc., are found to have anti-microbial properties against many common pathogens.
These fatty acids are also present in argan oil, enabling it to have anti-microbial action.3
Sterol fraction, such as campesterol of this oil (a therapeutic component found in argan oil) has great potential against microbes, as well. Campesterol from another plant showed anti-fungal and anti-bacterial action.
Spinasterol (present in argan oil), from some other plant, was also found effective against microorganisms.
Lupeol, a triterpenoid constituent of this oil is known to have anti-microbial activity, as well.
What does it mean? With so many components of this oil possessing anti-microbial activity, it is a very good candidate for the preparation of topical applications against wound infections. This can speed up the process of wound healing by outdoing microbial growth. Also, argan oil can be used in combination with antibiotics to fight antibiotic resistance related delays in wound healing.
3. Argan oil can speed up the formation of new skin tissue on wounds
Re-epithelialization is an imperative aspect of the wound healing process. It ensures complete closure of the wound by regenerating the skin.
If re-epithelialization does not complete, the wound remains open, and healing is delayed. Also, the wound becomes susceptible to pathogens.
Fatty acids present in argan oil can accelerate this process by inducing inflammatory and pro-inflammatory responses.
α-tocopherol present in argan oil can help in this process by its anti-oxidative mechanisms.
What does it mean? It means the intake of argan oil in diet can hasten the process of wound healing by inducing re-epithelialization of wounds. Intake of argan oil can equip the body with better healing responses upon wound infliction.
4. Argan oil can help in scar management
Tensile strength has a vital role in the process of wound healing. It ensures that the wound does not disrupt. But it leads to scar formation.
Scars are often undesirable, sometimes leading to loss of one’s self-confidence. Therefore scar management is nowadays prevalent.
Scar management is the practice of reducing tension, maintaining moisture and reducing inflammation in the wound once it has healed properly. It is done to improve the appearance of the scars.
Vitamin-E is known to reduce scars after wound healing. But there have been found some adverse results related to its potential in scar management.
Vitamin-E can help minimize scar formation during the inflammatory phase of wound healing. It can do so by reacting with the free radicals produced in this phase.
Omega 3 fatty acids have been found useful in scar reduction. The omega 3 fatty acid fraction of argan oil can be useful in this.
What does it mean? It means argan oil application may be effective in the reduction of the scar. The omega 3 fatty acid fraction of this oil can be used to prepare scar reduction cream or such products . These products can be very well used for scar management.
5. Argan oil acts as a moisturizer
All the cells in the body have water as the main constituent in which other molecules are suspended. Water also is the main channeling medium of other molecules, i.e. it helps in transfer of various molecules like oxygen.
As skin at the site of the wound gets damaged, the moisture content in that area significantly decreases.
Hydration plays a crucial role in wound healing. Water is required for bringing oxygen and other factors to the site of the wound to facilitate the healing.
Argan oil is known to have moisturizing effects on the skin making it smoother, therefore widely used in cosmetics. In various studies, it has been used effectively to hydrate the skin.
The cell membranes are composed of lipids and sterols that form a barrier to the cell water. The sterol fraction of argan oil gets embedded in the layer protecting the moisture content of the cells of the skin.
What does it mean? This means the intake of argan oil can help retain the moisture content of the skin thus, facilitate wound healing process.
Dosage of argan oil
Argan oil for wound healing has the best use in inducing internal mechanism of the body. Therefore it is best to consume argan oil in the diet.
1-2 teaspoons dietary intake of this oil daily is recommendable.
Heating this oil can reduce its benefits. So, it is better to take it as it is or in salad dressings instead of cooking.
For external application, argan oil-based ointments or creams can be used.
There are argan oil capsules also available in the market. It is best to consult a health practitioner before taking argan oil therapeutically.
The foremost precaution is that the argan oil we are consuming should be pure. If there is any adulteration in the oil, the health benefits will certainly be reduced.
There are also chances that the adulteration may adversely affect our health.
Argan oil must not be applied on open wounds.
Its application on open wounds may induce irritation or itching as it may interfere with the natural process of wound healing.
For ingestion purposes, argan oil is more effective as it is. Mild cooking of this oil can be done but deep frying should be avoided.
Deep frying can degrade many compounds hence, robbing off the oil of its beneficial components.
Argan oil can cause allergy. People who are allergic to nut oils may be allergic to this oil as well.
As argan oil is not highly refined, it may consist of some allergen proteins. Before application of argan oil, skin test for allergy must be done.
Argan oil is certainly a beneficial food product with some extraordinary advantages.
Its ingestion can be concluded to be very beneficial in the process of wound healing. Body’s natural mechanisms can be enhanced and better equipped with the regular use of argan oil, such that wound healing is rapid.