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Search Health Information    Burns (Holistic)

Burns (Holistic)

About This Condition

Extreme heat, chemicals, and sun exposure can burn tissue and cause a great deal of discomfort. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Block the harsh rays

    Avoid sunburns by applying sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) regularly

  • Take extra antioxidants

    Protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet rays by taking daily supplements of 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin E and 2,000 to 3,000 mg of vitamin C during periods of high sun exposure

  • Smooth on aloe

    Speed the healing of minor burns by applying a stabilized herbal gel three to five times a day

About

About This Condition

Burns are damage to tissue that can result from exposure to extreme heat, chemicals, electricity, or radioactive material.

For minor burns, natural medicine may be helpful after the burn is cleaned with soap and cold water and gently dried. Because of the risk of infection , topical applications should not be made to blistered or open burn wounds, unless under medical supervision. Extensive burns or burns causing more than minor discomfort should be treated by a healthcare professional.

Symptoms

Symptoms depend on the severity and cause of the burn but usually include pain and sensitivity to touch. The skin may appear swollen, blistered, dried, charred, weeping, or red, gray, or black-colored.

Holistic Options

Acupuncture may be useful in the treatment of serious burns. A report of patients suffering from extensive second-degree burns suggests acupuncture can reduce shock and pain following the acute injury and may reduce infection and pain when used as a part of post-injury wound care.1 A preliminary report described ten patients with second-degree burns that did not respond to conventional medical treatment. A majority of these patients achieved greater than 90% recovery following electrical stimulation to the wound (similar to electroacupuncture).2 Ear (auricular) acupuncture with electrical stimulation was studied in a small controlled trial, in which a significantly greater reduction in pain from burns was achieved with acupuncture. The relief lasted at least 60 minutes following acupuncture treatment.3

Eating Right

The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.

Recommendation Why
Eat a healthy diet
The body needs adequate amounts of calories and protein in order to build new skin and tissue.

The body repairs and builds new tissues in a process called anabolism. Adequate amounts of calories and protein are required for anabolism, as the skin and underlying tissues are comprised of protein and energy is needed to fuel repair mechanisms. While major injuries requiring hospitalization raise protein and calorie requirements significantly, injuries such as minor burns should not require changes from a typical, healthful diet.4

Supplements

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Supplement Why
2 Stars
Aloe
Apply gel three to five times per day
The herb Aloe vera is a popular remedy for minor burns, and a preliminary study found it more effective than Vaseline in treating burns.

Aloe is a popular remedy for minor burns and a small preliminary study found it more effective than Vaseline in treating burns.5 The stabilized aloe gel is typically applied to the affected area of skin three to five times per day. Older case studies reported that aloe gel applied topically could help heal radiation burns,6 but a large, double-blind trial did not find aloe effective in this regard.7

2 Stars
Sea Buckthorn
Refer to label instructions
Sea buckthorn extracts may speed the healing of skin injuries, including burns.
In animal studies, sea buckthorn extracts have been shown to speed the healing of skin injuries, including burns.8 In a controlled trial,9 people treated for burns with dressings containing sea buckthorn oil had greater pain relief and faster healing than those treated with a standard burn dressing.
2 Stars
Vitamin D
200 to 600 IU day in cases of extensive burns
People with a history of an extensive burn might benefit from vitamin D supplementation, since the skin may not be as effective at manufacturing vitamin D from sunlight.

Burns affecting a large proportion of the body may result in vitamin D deficiency10, potentially increasing the risk of osteoporosis, which is a frequent long-term consequence of severe burns.11 Vitamin D deficiency may result from the inability of previously burned skin to manufacture vitamin D after exposure to sunlight. People with a history of an extensive burn might benefit from vitamin D supplementation.

1 Star
Calendula
Refer to label instructions
Calendula is anti-inflammatory and may be applied topically to minor burns to soothe pain and help promote tissue repair.

Calendula cream may be applied to minor burns to soothe pain and help promote tissue repair. It has been shown in animal studies to be anti-inflammatory13 and to aid repair of damaged tissues.14 The cream is applied three times per day. Plantain is regarded as similar to calendula in traditional medicine, though usually the whole leaf is applied directly to the burn as a poultice.

1 Star
Colloidal Silver
Refer to label instructions
Colloidal silver has been used as a topical antiseptic for minor burns for over a century.

Colloidal silver has been used as a topical antiseptic for minor burns for over a century. Internal use of colloidal silver is not recommended for this condition.

1 Star
Gotu Kola
Refer to label instructions
Gotu kola contains substances that inhibit scar tissue from forming, it has been used in the medicinal systems of central Asia for centuries to treat numerous skin diseases.

Gotu kola has been used in the medicinal systems of central Asia for centuries to treat numerous skin diseases. Saponins in gotu kola beneficially affect collagen (the material that makes up connective tissue) to inhibit its production in hyperactive scar tissue following burns or wounds.15

1 Star
Plantain Topical
Refer to label instructions
Plantain is usually applied directly to the burn to soothe pain and help repair damaged tissue.

Calendula cream may be applied to minor burns to soothe pain and help promote tissue repair. It has been shown in animal studies to be anti-inflammatory16 and to aid repair of damaged tissues.17 The cream is applied three times per day. Plantain is regarded as similar to calendula in traditional medicine, though usually the whole leaf is applied directly to the burn as a poultice.

1 Star
Vitamin E
Refer to label instructions
Using the antioxidant vitamin E topically on minor burns is a popular remedy. If applying vitamin E topically, use the tocopherol form.

Despite a lack of research on the subject, using vitamin E topically on minor burns is a popular remedy. This makes sense, because some of the damage done to the skin is oxidative, and vitamin E is an antioxidant. Some doctors suggest simply breaking open a capsule of vitamin E and applying it to the affected area two or three times per day. Vitamin E forms are listed as either “tocopherol” or “tocopheryl” followed by the name of what is attached to it, as in “tocopheryl acetate.” While both forms are active when taken by mouth, the skin utilizes the tocopheryl forms very slowly.18 , 19 Therefore, those planning to apply vitamin E to the skin should buy the tocopherol form.

References

1. Jichova E, Konigova R, Prusik K. Acupuncture in patients with thermal injuries. Acta Chir Plast 1983;25:102-8.

2. Sumano H, Mateos G. The use of acupuncture-like electrical stimulation for wound healing of lesions unresponsive to conventional treatment. Am J Acupunct 1999;27:5-14.

3. Lewis SM, Clelland JA, Knowles CJ, et al. Effects of auricular acupuncture-like transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation on pain levels following wound care in patients with burns: a pilot study. J Burn Care Rehabil 1990;11:3229.

4. Souba WW, Wilmore D. Diet and nutrition in the care of the patient with surgery, trauma, and sepsis. In: Shils ME, Olson JA, Shike M, et al. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 9th ed. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999, 1589-618.

5. Visuthikosol V, Chowchuen B, Sukwanarat Y, et al. Effect of aloe vera gel to healing of burn wound: A clinical and histologic study. J Med Assoc Thai 1995;78:403-9.

6. Loveman AB. Leaf of Aloe vera in treatment of Roentgen ray ulcers. Arch Derm Syph 1937;36:838-43.

7. Williams MS, Burk M, Loprinzi CL, et al. Phase III double-blind evaluation of an Aloe vera gel as a prophylactic agent for radiation-induced skin toxicity. Int J Rad Oncol Biol Phys 1996;36:345-9.

8. Suryakumar G, Gupta A. Medicinal and therapeutic potential of Sea buckthorn (Hippophaerhamnoides L.). J Ethnopharmacol 2011;138:268-78.

9. Wang ZY, Luo XL, He CP. Management of burn wounds with Hippophaerhamnoides oil. Nan Fang Yi Ke Da XueXueBao 2006;26:124-5 [in Chinese].

10. Klein GL, Chen TC, Holick MF, et al. Synthesis of vitamin D in skin after burns. Lancet 2004;363:291-2.

11. Garrel D. Burn scars: a new cause of vitamin D deficiency? Lancet 2004;363:259-60.

12. Berger MM, Baines M, Raffoul W, et al. Trace element supplementation after major burns modulates antioxidant status and clinical course by way of increased tissue trace element concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:1293-300.

13. Della Loggia R, Tubaro A, Sosa S, et al. The role of triterpenoids in the topical anti-inflammatory activity of Calendula officinalis flowers. Planta Medica 1994;60:516-20.

14. Patrick KFM, Kumar S, Edwardson PAD, Hutchinson JJ. Induction of vascularisation by an aqueous extract of the flowers of Calendula officinalis L the European marigold. Phytomedicine 1996;3:11-8.

15. Werbach MR, Murray MT. Botancial Influences on Illness. Tarzana, CA: Third Line Press, 2000, 143-7.

16. Della Loggia R, Tubaro A, Sosa S, et al. The role of triterpenoids in the topical anti-inflammatory activity of Calendula officinalis flowers. Planta Medica 1994;60:516-20.

17. Patrick KFM, Kumar S, Edwardson PAD, Hutchinson JJ. Induction of vascularisation by an aqueous extract of the flowers of Calendula officinalis L the European marigold. Phytomedicine 1996;3:11-8.

18. Beijersbergen van Henegouwen GM, Junginger HE, de Vries H. Hydrolysis of RRR-alpha-tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E acetate) in the skin and its UV protecting activity (an in vivo study with the rat). J Photochem Photobiol B 1995;29:45-51.

19. Norkus EP, Bryce GF, Bhagavan HN. Uptake and bioconversion of alpha-tocopheryl acetate to alpha-tocopherol in skin of hairless mice. Photochem Photobiol 1993;57:613-5.

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