As a child growing up in poverty in the rural Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, Moses Murandu was used to having salt literally rubbed in his wounds when he fell and cut himself. On lucky days, though, his father had enough money to buy something which stung the boy much less than salt: sugar...Anyone who doubts that wounds can be difficult to treat has never seen a sacral decubitus ulcer that has burrowed down to the level of the vertebral bodies. I do hope that more attention is paid to non-antibiotic interventions.
To treat a wound with sugar, all you do, Murandu says, is pour the sugar on the wound and apply a bandage on top. The granules soak up any moisture that allows bacteria to thrive. Without the bacteria, the wound heals more quickly...
The sugar Murandu uses is the plain, granulated type you might use to sweeten your tea... he found that it worked for diabetics without sending their glucose levels soaring. “Sugar is sucrose – you need the enzyme sucrase to convert that into glucose,” he says. As sucrase is found within the body, it is only when the sugar is absorbed that it is converted. Applying it to the outside of the wound isn’t going to affect it in the same way...
McMichael, who works at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital, first started using both sugar and honey on pets back in 2002. She said it was a combination of the simplicity of the method and the low cost that attracted her – especially for pet owners who couldn’t afford the usual methods of bringing the animal to the hospital and using sedation.
McMichael says that they keep both sugar and honey in their surgery and often used it on dogs and cats (and occasionally on farm animals). Honey has similar healing properties to sugar (one study found it to be even more effective at inhibiting bacterial growth), though it is more expensive...
As well as being cheaper, sugar has another upside: as more and more antibiotics are used, we are becoming resistant to them.
03 April 2018
The efficacy of sugar in wound healing
This is not new information, but the BBC has a nice brief review: