PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Can sugar heal wounds?

Q: I have been in veterinary medicine for 15 years. Several years ago, we had a case of a dog that had been attacked by another dog. After initial surgery to repair wounds, the tissue over the largest area died and sloughed off, leaving nothing to sew back together.

We used sugar for healing. It took daily bandage changes initially and nearly six months of wound care.

However, our tough little patient healed beautifully.

The sugar did not allow the wound to become infected, and it also drew out extra moisture, which helped the wound to heal.

One thing we discovered was using a hand-held shower head to rinse off the sugar and gently remove the dead tissue, revealing healthy tissue underneath. After the rinse, pat dry with clean towels, pour sugar onto the wound and sprinkle to the edges. Apply nonstick pads and wrap appropriately.

A: Thank you for your story. It is always fascinating to hear from a health professional who has had success with an alternative healing approach.

Sugar has been used to heal wounds for many years. An orthopedic surgeon, encouraged by a nurse who knew of this old remedy, started experimenting with it in 1976 and reported his results almost 30 years ago (Southern Medical Journal, November 1981).

A study that compared sugar and honey for wound healing found that honey was somewhat more effective (Journal of Wound Care, July 2007). A more recent study comparing honey with standard wound care suggested that medicinal honey might be better (Journal of Advanced Nursing, March 2009).

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. They can be reached at peoplespharmacy

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2 comments Add your comment


November 12th, 2009
11:58 am

Sugar also works well for edema.


February 4th, 2010
11:58 am

Just wanted to add that I volunteer for a raptor rehab center, and we use sugar for skin wounds a lot there. It does indeed seem to work well.