From a small cut on the toddler’s finger to a large gash from a shark bite, wounds are something that occur to everyone, in many ways. Wound cleansing is something that has taken precedent from ancient days, as if not done properly, may lead to loss of limb or life. Here we are going to look at the process of wound healing that has been passed down in India by Ayurvedic Ancestors, eventually comparing and contrasting it to our modern understanding of wounds.
“To keep the wounds clean and from dirt, seems to be the essential factor in the ultimate healing of wounds. Is it possible that wounds in ordinary practice, especially accidental ones, can be kept sterile by ordinary means? The time-honored method in India, seems to be, a dressing with linen, soaked in salt solution. If this solution is especially strong, we can now understand, on grounds of osmotic pressure, that a slow erudition of serum would occur from the deeper capillaries and bathe the wound surface, with perhaps the most aseptic natural fluid.” – (The Cleansing of Wounds, J. Duriabh Druv, M.S.)
Our modern day understanding of wounds healing is based on this very information that we gleaned. So how does this compare to our modern methodology? In the current time, we know exactly how wounds heal and the different cells that interact in this process. First, we have the portion of hemostasis, where blood cells start to clot to prevent any further loss of blood. Unfortunately, there are known genetic mutations that can hamper the ability of these cells to properly coagulate. Second, the cells must then start the process of inflammation and deliver the proper supply of nutrients and oxygen. This is coupled with the process of the white blood cells, macrophages, that go about making sure any foreign substances are dealt with. The pus that occurs is fluid that contains degenerating white blood cells, any dead microorganisms and any tissue debris that was left over.
The Saline solution would increase the osmolarity on the outside of the wounds. Hence, if we follow the laws of osmotic pressure, the fluids containing important substances would flow from inside the blood capillaries to the wound opening. Osmotic processes govern many functions in our body, from the lymphatic system, the process of nutrient exchange, and blood kidney exchanges. The crazy part is the ancients studying Ayurveda were able to utilize this very property of osmotic pressure to help the process of wound healing. In drawing out the proper nutrients and growth factors to heal the wounds at a faster rate than it would supply normally, they were able to speed up the healing.
“The use of very strong antiseptics like Phenol, iodoform etc., on the contrary, retards the process of healing, as they act as powerful irritants to the living cells, which ultimately die, and form a very good pabulum for saprophytic organisms. For the successful healing of wounds, not only regeneration of cells should be brought about, but cells should not die, because of chemical irritation or deficient vascular supply. Dressing with saline solution, therefore, is the most rational, scientific and cheaper form of healing.” – (The Cleansing of Wounds, J. Duriabh Druv, M.S.)
The one part where their take is a little outdated is the topic of antiseptics. However, there is some thought behind it that we must explore. During the next step of wound healing, collagen is produced by fibroblasts to start closing off the wound. During this time, there should not be any heavy application of antiseptics, as that may interfere with the process of proper collagen formation. But, between the time the wound occurs and until the time there is visible pus, there is a likelihood of getting infection. At this time, it may be proper to treat the wound with an antiseptic to remove any foreign material or kill any harmful microorganisms. Modern day wound cleansers come with a mixture of saline solution and surfactant to help fight the microorganisms. Although wrong in their initial take of it, their understanding of antiseptic still has some truth in it that can help us treat wounds properly even in the modern day.
Our Ayurevdic ancestors were able to come so far with their limited tools. They did not understand cellular biology in the depth we do nowadays. Yet, they were able to combine their understanding of bodily functions, osmotic properties, and theorize to the process of collagen formation and irritating that process with antiseptics. It is our job to now incorporate this info and take wound healing even further in the future.
So what are the different Ayurvedic herbs which we can use to heal the wounds? We will now discuss some of the Ayurvedic herbs and the treatments below. These herbs are available in America online.
- Adulsa or Vasa (Adhatoda vasica): Vasa is not only a drug of choice as cough remedies but also helps in healing the wounds. You can use paste of fresh Vasa leaves or paste of Vasa powder in water and apply it to the wound.
- Umber, Udambar or Cluster Fig (Ficus Glomerata): The decoction made from fresh bark or bark powder of Udamber (3 tablespoons) in 1 liter of water can be used to clean/wash the wounds which expedite the healing process. You can even use this decoction or its concentrated form for cleaning any rash, smallpox, chicken pox wounds or Diabetic carbuncles, etc. You can apply a poultice of Udambar bark or leaves powder directly on the wound as well.
- PippaI, Aswath or Neotea (Fecus Religiosa): Pippal leaves or fruits are useful on various diseases. But, one of the prominent uses is to apply poultice of Pippal leaves or fruits powder in water to wounds for fast recovery. Pippal leaves and fruits are also highly immune booster.
- Alum or Phatakadi: Ecchymosis is usually caused by an injury, such as a bump, blow, or fall which may cause a blood vessel to burst open leaking blood under the skin, creating a bruise. In ecchymoses, contusions, ruptured blood capillaries, bruises, sprains etc., poultices made of wheat bran and solution of alum, or alum mixed in water can be used for wound healing. In thrush, spongy gums, and the mouth sores, powdered alum or the powder of burnt alum with honey or turmeric is used.
- Vekhand or Vacha (Acorus calamus): In highly infectious and suppurative wounds, apply poultice made from equal parts of Camphor and Calamus powder. Any microorganisms or infestation in that wound will get destroyed and the wound will start healing fast.
- Neem or Kadilimbu (Azadirachta Indica): Neem when used externally, it has stimulant, antiseptic, and alternative properties and is very useful in chronic sores and indolent ulcers. In purification and healing of wounds (Vranashodhan), crush the neem leaves with honey, and apply that poultice to the wound. The continuous use of the neem poultice will heal any type of wound.
- Ajma or Ajwain (Carum Capticum): When the wound is not healing for a long time and is still draining (Any type of wound drainage), you can make a paste of Ajma in hot water and then apply it directly to the wound.
- Haldi or Turmeric (Curcuma longa): As per Ayurveda, Turmeric is known to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and is used in traditional medicines. For bruises, sprains, contused wounds and black eye, fresh turmeric or dry turmeric powder is applied with honey, water or ghee. A paste of Turmeric along with burned cotton can be applied to stop the bleeding from any wounds.
- Jyotishmati or Malkangni (Celastrus Paniculatus): Malkangni is one of the best Ayurvedic herbs to cure and heal any kind of herbs. You can find Malkangni seeds or oil available in the market or online. The poultice soaked in Malkangni oil can be applied continuously to get the pus out from the wound and heal the wound faster. You can even apply the oil or lotion made from Malkangni to the piles to cure it.
- Flaxseed or Alasi (Linum Usitaissimum):Flaxseed is another drug of choice for wound healing besides its many uses in Ayurveda. Here is the traditional way Prabhuram Jeevanram Vaidya’s college used to make Flaxseed Poultice:
- Grind 1 to 2 tablespoons of flaxseed with mortar and pestle until it reaches medium consistency.
- Cut an appropriate length of gauze or cotton cloth to completely cover the wound. Fold the gauze several times until you have created a pad of six layers deep. Insert the ground flaxseed between the third and fourth layers, folding the gauze closed.
- Pour hot water over the gauze to release the flaxseed’s essential oils. Set the poultice aside to cool.
- Apply the poultice to the wound using medical tape to secure it in place. Change poultice as needed until the wound is healed.
If you have any questions regarding the above treatments for healing and cleaning the wounds, please send us email to email@example.com
- Nighantu: Ayurvedic Herbology by Dr. Bharat Vaidya, Ayurved Sadhana
- The Cleansing of Wounds By: J. Duriabh Druv, M.S., Health Magazine, Publication of Prabhuram Ayurvedic College, 1929
CHECK OUT OUR OTHER BLOGS:
All rights reserved by Ayurved Sadhana Vidyalaya,Dr. Bharat Vaidya and Anupama Vaidya. Do not distribute or publish this material.