Originally published August 10 2009
The Sweet Art of Healing
by Dr. Julian Whitaker
(NaturalNews) Jerome, a 53-year-old high school teacher, was in the hospital awaiting amputation of his left leg. He'd been receiving IV antibiotics to treat a diabetic ulcer, a wide, oozing open wound on his ankle, but this didn't halt the steady advance of gangrene, and he was told they had no choice but to take his leg.
About five hours before he was scheduled for surgery, Jerome talked to the teacher who was substituting for him to tell him he'd probably be out for the rest of the year. The substitute had heard about the Whitaker Wellness Institute and the work we do here, so he suggested that Jerome check us out. Jerome immediately phoned his wife, who called the clinic and asked if there was anything we could do to save his leg. I said we would certainly try. Figuring he had nothing to lose, Jerome left the hospital-against strongly worded medical advice-and came to my clinic that same day.
"I Wouldn't Be Walking Today"
We immediately started Jerome on two therapies. First, he began a course of EDTA chelation, an IV treatment that improves circulation. Second, we dressed his ulcer with sugar. That's right, white table sugar. We simply poured sugar into the wound, wrapped it up, and changed the dressing regularly. Within days he noticed a difference.
"I could see the sores were starting to get better and the swelling had gone down. At first the leg was almost all black. Then it started to get pinkish. It was just amazing how it continued to feel so much better." Within three weeks, Jerome's ulcer was healed, and he was able to resume teaching and coaching the girl's softball team.
"I didn't know anything about alternative medicine when I went to see you. I guess I was skeptical because I had no idea what to expect. I just felt that it was my last hope. I wouldn't be walking today if it weren't for you. I've often thought about sending a card to the doctor who wanted to amputate, with a picture of my leg, and say, 'I still have it.'"
5,000 Years of Success
Chelation is an amazing treatment, however, in this article I want to focus on sugar because it is an incredibly powerful therapy that was instrumental in saving Jerome's leg. I've been using sugar to dress open wounds for 20-plus years, but this therapy has been around for much longer-at least 5,000 years.
Honey (which works just like sugar) is mentioned in the world's earliest known medical document, discovered in Luxor, Egypt, in 1862. Known as the Edwin Smith Papyrus, it was written around 1600 BC and is believed to be based on materials from as early as 3000 BC. This ancient manuscript is essentially a textbook on traumatic surgery, and it describes anatomy, examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of a variety of injuries in great detail. In particular, it tells how honey, along with animal fat, herbs, roots, bark, spices, and cat dung, can be used to treat open wounds and burns.
Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek physician who lived in Rome in the first century AD, also extolled the therapeutic powers of honey. In his five-volume De Materia Medica, which was the primary pharmacopeia in Europe and the Middle East for 16 centuries, he described honey as "good for all rotten and hollow ulcers." In fact, honey-and later, sugar-continued to be widely used to treat wounds well into the twentieth century. Then antibiotics came along.
Better Than Antibiotics
Today, antibiotic ointments are the treatment of choice for ulcers, cuts, scrapes, and burns. Yet honey and sugar are far superior to any antibiotic ointment ever used.
Antibiotics aren't as effective as they once were, because bacteria rapidly becomes resistant to them. While an antibiotic kills most of the bacteria, the stronger ones-those with some genetic variation that allows them to withstand the effects of the drug-survive and reproduce. Over time, that strain of bacteria becomes completely resistant to the effects of the antibiotic. Another antibiotic comes on the market that kills most of these "superbugs," and the process starts over again.
Today, antibiotic resistance has reached a critical mass: Many infections do not respond to any antibiotics at all. This is what happened to Jerome and the 82,000 other Americans who lose a leg or foot to non-healing diabetic ulcers annually. It's also what affects the two million patients who acquire an infection while they're in the hospital and the 90,000 who die from these infections every year.
Wounds are particularly prone to infection because the gauze used to dress them absorbs fluid from the wound and becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. Drug companies are working around the clock to come up with antibiotics that stay one step ahead of microbes. Yet, the solution is as near as your sugar bowl. The reason? Bacteria cannot become resistant to the killing effects of sugar or honey.
Sweet, Powerful Medicine
When sugar or honey is packed on top of and inside of an open wound, it dissolves in the fluid exuding from the wound, creating a hyperosmotic, or highly concentrated, medium. Bacteria cannot live in a hyperosmotic environment any more than a goldfish could survive in the Great Salt Lake. Scientists have tested the viability of many types of bacteria, including Klebsiella, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pyogenes, and none of them have been able to survive in a honey or sugar solution.
In addition to curbing infection, this therapy facilitates healing in other ways. It draws fluid out of the wound, which reduces edema (swelling). It provides a covering or filling and therefore prevents scabbing. It encourages the removal of dead tissue to make way for new growth. It promotes granulation, the formation of connective tissue and blood vessels on the surfaces of a wound. Finally, it supports the growth of new skin covering the wound. The net result is rapid healing with minimal scarring.
This Doctor Has Treated 7,000 Wounds
The country's, if not the world's, leading expert on the use of sugar as a wound dressing is Richard A. Knutson, MD, now retired but for many years an orthopedic surgeon at the Delta Medical Center in Greenville, Mississippi. Dr. Knutson first learned about the healing power of sugar from an elderly nurse who worked in the hospital where he was making rounds to check on his patients. When he expressed concern about a patient's bedsore that was so deep it was down to the bone, she told him, "In the old days, we used to put sugar on them wounds."
Although he was dubious, he gave it a try. To his surprise, it worked like a charm. Within a couple of days the wound was free of pus, and with continued use of sugar dressings, healing was complete. Dr. Knutson, a meticulous record keeper, went on to treat and document nearly 7,000 wounds of all sizes and degrees of severity: ulcers, abrasions, lacerations, amputations, abscesses, gunshot wounds, frostbite, punctures, post-operative incisions, cat scratches, burns, and bites (dog, human, snake, spider, and, believe it or not, one lion bite).
He told me about a patient who had accidentally shot himself in the foot at close range with a shotgun. I saw pictures of this, and it was incredible: a perfectly round, inch-and-a-half diameter hole right through his foot. After the bleeding was stopped and the wound cleaned, Dr. Knutson packed it with sugar and wrapped it up. Seven weeks later it had healed completely, and today the patient is fully functional.
Burns: No Skin Grafts, No Scarring
Sugar dressings are also great for burns. Most burn centers insist on using silver sulfadiazine, an antibiotic ointment, to treat burns, but it doesn't work nearly as well as sugar or honey.
In a study published in the Annals of Burns and Fire Disasters, 900 patients who presented with second-degree burns were treated with either honey or an antibiotic ointment. All burns were then covered with gauze and bandaged, and the dressing was changed every other day. The 450 patients treated with honey fared much better than those receiving the usual treatment. They healed faster, in an average of nine days compared to 13.5 days in the antibiotic group. They had fewer infections, 5.5 percent versus 12 percent. And minor scarring occurred in only 6.2 percent of the honey-treated patients, while a whopping 20 percent of those receiving conventional treatment ended up with scars.
Dr. Knutson's experience mirrors the results of this study. He has treated 1,622 burns with sugar dressings, and virtually all of them were infection-free and required no antibiotics or skin grafts. He told me about one patient with extensive burns who received antibiotic treatment on some areas of his body and sugar on others. The sugar-treated burns healed faster and scarred less.
If It's So Good, Why Isn't It Used?
Trying to figure out why inexpensive, effective therapies like sugar and honey dressings aren't being used is an exercise in futility. That's because there is no rational explanation. Some physicians claim it would cause elevations in blood sugar, which is nonsense because sugar or honey used on an open wound does not enter the bloodstream. Others think it's unscientific or just plain weird.
I suspect it's because, like so many other overlooked therapies, it doesn't fit into the model of conventional medicine. It isn't a drug. It costs pennies. It can be administered by the patient as easily as by a nurse or doctor, so it doesn't require many return office visits. Whatever the reason, do not expect your doctor to offer this therapy or even be open to it. But next time you get a cut, scrape, or burn, give it a try, and let me know how it works.
Protocol for Treating Wounds With Sugar
Sugar or honey dressing may be used to treat any kind of open wound or burn. (We use sugar at the clinic because it's less messy.) It will not work on abscesses or pustules that are covered with skin. Do not use on a bleeding wound as sugar promotes bleeding.
1)Unravel a 4" x 4" piece of gauze into a long strip and coat it with Vaseline. Place it around the outside edges of the wound, like a donut.
2)Cover the wound with 1/4-inch of sugar. (The Vaseline "donut" will keep it in place.)
3)Place a 4" x 4" sponge on top of the wound. Bandage it firmly but not too snugly with a cling dressing.
4)Change the dressing every one or two days. Remove, irrigate with water, saline, or hydrogen peroxide, pat dry, and repeat steps 1-3.
Subrahmanyam M. Honey dressing for burns-an appraisal. Annals of Burns and Fire Disasters. 1996;IX:33-35.
About the authorReprinted from Dr. Julian Whitaker's Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. For information on subscribing to this newsletter, visit www.drwhitaker.com or call (800) 539-8219.
About the Author
Julian Whitaker, MD, is the author of Health & Healing, a monthly newsletter that has reached millions of readers since 1991. He has also written 13 books and hosts The Dr. Whitaker Show, a popular radio program. In 1979, Dr. Whitaker founded the Whitaker Wellness Institute. Today, it is the largest alternative medicine clinic in the United States. To learn more, visit www.whitakerwellness.com or call (800) 488-1500.
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