Any break in the skin is considered to be a wound, whether it occurs as the result of cutting yourself accidentally or from a surgical procedure. A wound can be a clean cut from a surgical incision or a jagged-edged laceration. As part of the healing process, your skin knits together to form a scar; how you scar depends on several factors, including heredity, age, ethnicity, skin type and depth of the wound. Scars are permanent, being bright red at first and then fading over time. Some scars can become prominent, such as keloids and hypertrophic scars. There are some medical treatments available, but also discuss herbal options and dosages with your doctor.
Bromelain is extracted from the flesh and stems of the pineapple plant, however, the stems hold it in the highest concentration. It is a protease enzyme, meaning it helps digest certain proteins, making it a natural anti-inflammatant. Bromelain is often used following surgery to reduce tissue swelling, allowing wound healing and scar formation to occur, states the AltMD website. It is also used to treat post-surgical hematomas, or blood clots, that can form under the wound. Blood clots increase healing time by impeding wound healing and scar formation. Bromelain is taken orally, but do not use it if you take blood-thinning medication. Talk to your doctor about taking bromelain.
The aloe vera plant is native to tropical and subtropical areas and has been used medicinally for thousands of years. It is one of the most commonly used herbal remedies for burns, cuts and scar healing. The gel from the aloe vera plant contains substances that decrease pain and swelling while promoting healing, skin growth and skin repair. Aloe can be obtained as a fresh gel from the plant or in a commercial gel, cream or ointment. Do not apply aloe vera to an open wound or surgical site, as it may cause irritation and delay the healing process.
Gotu kola is an ancient herb, being used for centuries in parts of Asia to encourage wound healing. Gotu kola is not related to the kola nut but is a member of the parsley family. Its stems and leaves are collected for use in herbal medications. Gotu kola contains active compounds called triterpenoids, which appear to strengthen the skin, and increase blood supply and antioxidant activity around a wound or surgical incision. Triterpenoids also act to minimize scar formation and is beneficial for reducing keloid scars. The University of Maryland Medical Center states a cream containing 1 percent gotu kola can be applied to a scar topically.
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Calendula, or the pot marigold, is a bright yellow-gold flowering herb whose blossoms are collected for medicinal use. Marigold is a member of the daisy family, and those with allergies to other plants in that family should use calendula with caution. It can be applied topically as a cream or poultice made from a tea to stimulate production of collagen in wounds and surgical incisions, notes UMMC. Calendula has the added benefit of providing some antibacterial activity, which helps prevent infection.
- "Prescription for Herbal Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C.; 2002
- Cleveland Clinic: Scars
- AltMD: Bromelain
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Gotu Kola; October 2009
Kathryn Meininger began writing and publishing poetry in 1967. She was co-founder and editor of the professional magazine "Footsteps" and began writing articles online in 2010. She earned a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine and a Bachelor of Arts in biology from William Paterson University.