Healing of wounds, whether from accidental injury or surgical intervention, involves the activity of an intricate network of blood cells, tissue types, cytokines, and growth factors. This results in increased cellular activity, which causes an intensified metabolic demand for nutrients. Nutritional deficiencies can impede wound healing, and several nutritional factors required for wound repair may improve healing time and wound outcome. Vitamin A is required for epithelial and bone formation, cellular differentiation, and immune function. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen formation, proper immune function, and as a tissue antioxidant. Vitamin E is the major lipid-soluble antioxidant in the skin; however, the effect of vitamin E on surgical wounds is inconclusive. Bromelain reduces edema, bruising, pain, and healing time following trauma and surgical procedures. Glucosamine appears to be the rate-limiting substrate for hyaluronic acid production in the wound. Adequate dietary protein is absolutely essential for proper wound healing, and tissue levels of the amino acids arginine and glutamine may influence wound repair and immune function. The botanical medicines Centella asiatica and Aloe vera have been used for decades, both topically and internally, to enhance wound repair, and scientific studies are now beginning to validate efficacy and explore mechanisms of action for these botanicals. To promote wound healing in the shortest time possible, with minimal pain, discomfort, and scarring to the patient, it is important to explore nutritional and botanical influences on wound outcome.
Wound healing involves a complex series of interactions between different cell types. cytokine mediators, and the extracellular matrix. The phases of normal wound healing include hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling. Each phase of wound healing is distinct, although the wound healing process is continuous. with each phase overlapping the next. Because successful wound healing requires adequate blood and nutrients to be supplied to the site of damage, the overall health and nutritional status of the patient influences the outcome of the damaged tissue. Some wound care experts advocate a holistic approach for wound patients that considers coexisting physical and psychological factors. including nutritional status and disease states such as diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Keast and Orsted (1) wittily state, "Best practice requires the assessment of the whole patient, not just the hole in the patient. All possible contributing factors must be explored."
Wound repair must occur in a physiologic environment conducive to tissue repair and regeneration. However, several clinically, significant factors are known to impede wound healing, including hypoxia, infection, tumors, metabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus, the presence of debris and necrotic tissue, certain medications, and a diet deficient in protein, vitamins, or minerals. In addition, increased metabolic demands are made by the inflammation and cellular activity in the healing wound, which may require increased protein or amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. (2)
The objective in wound management is to heal the wound in the shortest time possible, with minimal pain, discomfort, and scarring to the patient. At the site of wound closure a flexible and fine scar with high tensile strength is desired....
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