Wound Healing with Aromatherapy

February 11, 2019

Wound Healing with Aromatherapy

The skin in our body is the organ that is most exposed to infections, illnesses, and injuries, and healing of wounds is an illustration of how our body effectively maintains homeostasis. Often, however, we need to help these complex mechanisms of creating an internal environment in an area that is optimal for life. We must be aware that chronic is also rapidly developing from acute illnesses. Therefore, this time we will focus on the effective functioning of aromatherapy and natural cosmetic preparations for wound healing.

Stages of wound healing

Wound healing is divided into:

  • primary healing, when the broken or damaged tissue gets infected without inflammation or the formation of intermediate granulation tissue, with a smooth scar and no complications,
  • secondary healing, when the broken or damaged tissue is overgrown by the formation of granulation tissue due to the presence of infection, and ends with a large scar.

The classic wound healing model can be divided into several partially overlapping, fully anticipated phases. In case the phases do not follow, healing is not successful and leads to the development of chronic wounds. Therefore, knowledge of these phases is crucial in the successful treatment of wounds, including the holistic approach.

Inflammation phase - Immediately after mechanical damage to the skin, mucous membranes or tissue, the formation of scabies follows, which prevents further bleeding and serves as a basic support until the development of granulation tissue and later collagen. Inflammation on the site of injury speeds up circulation, causes tissue swelling, and triggers factors that trigger the next healing phase.

During the inflammation, white blood cells develop on the wound, which remove dirt, dead tissue, and micro-organisms. The by-product of such purification is pus. Finally, the wound is clean, and cells begin to form granulation tissue. If an alien remains in the wound, the inflammatory phase may be prolonged, which may lead to a chronic wound.

Proliferation phase - After two to three days, new veins begin to form. Special fibroblasts are formed, which form a new extracellular matrix and granulation tissue. Because of this, the injured area needs a lot of oxygen and nutrients that the cells receive with blood. For this reason, the surrounding area is reddened.

Granular tissue acts as a rudimentary tissue and grows until it completely covers the wound. At the end of the granulation phase, the fibroblasts transform the granulation tissue into collagen, thereby strengthening tissue in the area of ​​the wound.

Oxygen deficiency stops the growth of fibroblasts and the formation of an extracellular matrix, which leads to the formation of fibrotic scars. Therefore, we must pay special attention to people who have circulation disorders and smoke, as they will disrupt the flow of fresh blood to the injury area. With them, the healing process will be significantly longer.

Epithelization - When the wound is completely filled with granulation tissue, the epithelial cells first begin to overgrow the edges of the wound. Fresh skin is gentle and sensitive to any possible injury. Care must be taken with extreme caution.

Contraction - This wound healing phase can last for several weeks and is extremely important as it restores the original appearance to the skin. If this phase takes too long, the skin can lose its original appearance, and even function. Special cells, similar to smooth muscle cells, pull the intracellular matrix inside the wound and thus narrow down the wound, while during this time, fibroblasts lay down collagen fibers, and strengthen the injured area.

Maturation and transformation phase - This phase can last one year or longer, depending on the extent of injury and the course of healing. During the maturation, type III collagen changes with collagen type I, thus reinforcing the damaged area.

The role of essential oils in wound healing

It is extremely important to choose the right essential and vegetable oils and leachable for the treatment of wounds. In choosing essential oils, we need to find especially those that will:

  • prevent infection of wounds with microorganisms,
  • reduce inflammation,
  • help to remove pus and dead tissue from the wound,
  • accelerate granulation and formation of collagen,
  • accelerate formation of blood vessels and accelerate blood circulation of the tissue,
  • accelerate tissue shrinkage around the wound,
  • facilitate accompanying pain,
  • be affordable, and
  • can easily be applied and cleaned quickly.

We suggest the use of high quality basic Unguentarium® oils and 100% essential Unguentarium® oils.

The concentrations of essential oils in vegetable oils, leachable substances, honey or clay coatings range from 1.5-25%, all depend on the patient and the aromatherapist's experience. Before each examination, we must take a detailed patient's history and perform a plaster test. Undiluted essential oils are never applied directly to the wound!

Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia) stimulates scarring, cell regeneration, and effectively destroys cells. It is also often used in the treatment of burns.

Myrth essential oil (Commiphora myrrha) has been used for wound treatment since ancient times, and is especially effective in treatments of elderly people. It also increases blood leukocyte counts and inhibits the multiplication of Staphylococcus aureus and other Gram-positive bacteria.

Tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) works antibacterial and against a wide range of bacteria and fungi, including Staphylococcus aureus. It is therefore extremely useful in the treatment of infected wounds. In aromatherapy, it even plays a role of an antibiotic.

Essential oil of balsam fir (Abies balsamea) acts against staphylococci and E. coli, it acts anti-inflammatory and as a cytatrizant. Indigenous Americans used it to treat burns, ulcers, and cuts.

Lemon essential oil (Citrus Lemon) is used for cleaning purulent wrinkles, since high monoterpenes content (90-95%) are aggressive on the skin and mucous membranes. It has extraordinary antibacterial capabilities and effectively stimulates white blood cells.

Essential oil of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is indispensable in wound healing because it acts anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and accelerates scarring. Because of its high oxide content (20-55%) it acts as an effective bactericide and also acts against MRSA. It is especially good for treatment of skin ulcers and bedsores.

Niaouli essential oil (Melaleuca viridiflora) works synergistically with etheric lemon oil and can be used as such for cleaning purulent wounds, disinfection, pain relief, and against inflammation. It also promotes cell regeneration.

Frankincense essential oil (Boswellia carteri) promotes cell regeneration. It is suitable for taking care of wounds of people in hospices, as it also works spiritually, and invigorating.

The role of vegetable oils and leachables in wound healing

Briar rose oil or Rose hip oil (Rosa canina L.) promotes regeneration of the skin.

Neem oil (Azadirachta indica) acts antimicrobially and accelerates healing. It is highly appreciated in Ayurveda, but people are reluctant to use it because of an unpleasant smell.

Shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii) is used to accelerate healing with minimal scarring. After using shea butter, scars are much less noticeable and the skin is flexible and soft.

Pot marigold leachable (Calendula officinalis) acts anti-inflammatory, promotes wound healing, and eliminates swelling. Also, folk medicine advises it for these purposes, as it improves local circulation and formation of granulation tissue. Its effect is improved by the addition of essential oils with similar functions.

St John's wort leachable (Hypericum perforatum) is particularly advised for wounds, where the nerves and the presence of inflammation are also damaged.

The role of hydrolates and honey in wound healing

Hydrolates and water-based extracts of plants are also suitable for:

  • direct wound cleaning,
  • rinsing of particularly deep wounds,
  • compresses for surface abrasions.

The hydrolyte itself is cooling and moisturizing to the wound. They work similarly to essential oils of the same plants, but they are mild and can be applied undiluted directly to the wound. But attention must be paid to their microbiological integrity, as they contain extremely few aromatic molecules. Due to such a low concentration, they can develop bacteria and molds, which can be applied directly to an open wound!

Our traditional medicine also recommends care of various wounds with honey, which can be supplemented with different essential oils, if desired or needed. Effect of honey:

  • eliminating infections,
  • elimination of inflammation, swelling, discharge, and pain,
  • decomposition of foreign matter and necrotic tissue,
  • removal of pus without additional damage to healthy tissue,
  • accelerating granulation and re-epithelization,
  • healing with minimal scarring.

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