Burns are the worst; they hurt like hell, they take a long time to heal, and they often leave unwelcome scars that linger long after the initial injury. And while burns aren't something we think about as often as brain fog or bloating, it's still wise to have a natural remedy on hand for the next time we get in a tussle with the stove or toaster oven.
Luckily, this new report—published in the journal BioDiscovers—showed that using a curcumin gel on burns and scalds reduced the severity of the injury, improved pain and inflammation, and helped with wound healing and scar prevention. And conveniently, most of us already have some turmeric in our kitchen.
Can curcumin really heal burns?
Curcumin is the main ingredient in turmeric, a spice used in many Eastern countries for cooking and in beauty products, and for its potent healing properties. The author of this report is a doctor who has been using curcumin as a complementary treatment for burns—meaning she uses it in addition to the usual standard treatments. The report highlighted three specific patient cases, and the results were pretty staggering. For some of the patients, the curcumin gel was applied hourly, and many of the patients exhibited rapid healing, pain relief, and minimal or no scarring.
So, how exactly does this work?
It's pretty complicated, but about five minutes after you burn yourself your body activates Phosphorylase kinase (Phk), which is an enzyme that responds to tissue damage. This enzyme activates other inflammatory pathways and genes related to inflammation, which then creates a cascade of complex events (fibroblastic proliferation and myofibroblast conversion—in case you were curious) that eventually lead to scar tissue formation. Curcumin is very effective at inhibiting Phk—even in very small concentrations—so basically it reduces the inflammatory response that causes scarring, pain, and interferes with healing. Here's a cool diagram that shows the entire process.
Recently, there's been a lot of debate about the ability of curcumin to be absorbed when taken orally, but it seems that putting it directly on your skin is a different story. This study suggests that a curcumin gel applied right away to mild or moderate burns could be extremely effective at speeding up healing and reducing symptoms... Excuse us while we prepare our own burn-ready turmeric salve.