The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 839: Sugar for Wounds Health News Update

Do you know how to use sugar for wounds? We talk with a surgeon who tested this remedy extensively in his practice. Plus, other remedies for accidents.
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Sugar for Wounds Health News Update

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Sugar for Wounds:

Sugar seems like an improbable treatment for hard-to-heal wounds. But the ancient Egyptians used honey and animal fat for battle scars. How does that treatment hold up under modern scrutiny?

Holiday Remedies:

When friends and family gather for the holidays, little mishaps may happen. What home remedies can help ease minor problems and make the celebrations smoother?

Colds and Flu in Kids:

The People’s Pharmacy pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene, helps us distinguish between colds and flu in kids.
Explore the stories behind the health headlines.

This Week’s Guests:

Richard A. Knutson, MD, is a retired orthopedic surgeon in Greenville, MS. His work on sugar to dress wounds was published in the Southern Medical Journal in Nov. 1981.

Alan Greene, MD, is founder of and clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. His books include Feeding Baby Green and Raising Baby Green. He is co-chairman of the board of The Society for Participatory Medicine.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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My daughter been using medical honey to help her wound where she had a drain after major surgery. I have a epidermal inclusion cyst in glut – Dr said worse place to get one and I agree – I have put off surgery til daughter is better – have thought about using medicinal honey but afraid to – she needs to get her wound closed up and I have minor drainage which may stop the drainage? There is a touch of blood sometimes but told to expect that as I am on blood thinner.
Thoughts please I have had it a year now Thanks

Since hearing this show – almost 2000 straight healed wounds of all kinds which had failed “approved” treatment – I have used powdered sugar and mono unsat oils to make a poultice, first as a backup and now as the only treatment for any wound not healing rapidly on its own. I have treated deep punctures, burns and animal bites/scratches with uniform success.

Hi Samantha,
The determination of your father to do the right thing by his patients and his willingness to explore unconventional treatment options when conventional options fail was exceptionally courageous and admirable. You have good reason to be proud. We need more physicians like him. I’m sorry to hear that he passed away.
I had known that honey was an excellent wound treatment. When I recently had a wounded finger, I put honey on the bandage. I think I left the bandage on too long, about 3 days. Next time I will try the 3 or 4 parts powdered sugar to one part olive oil and change the bandage every day.
I must admit that I find it very difficult to understand how such a simple, inexpensive, and effective treatment can be, to a very large extent, almost totally ignored by the medical profession, especially considering the huge problem with drug-resistant microorganisms. There is something very, very wrong here. Can it be that Big Pharma is actually managing to SUPPRESS this treatment?! I wonder.
Sincerely, Russ

I’m so pleased to read all of these positive comments & that people have tried it & see how it really does work!
My father, Dr. Knutson, spent much of his life (& took great joy & pride) in wound healing. He was a great physician and truly loved helping people. Sadly, he passed away just over a month ago (Sept. 30, 2013), & he is dearly missed by many.
I’m thankful for the legacy he left to us and to so many others of love, compassion for others, & the desire to help those in need. And I treasure being able to hear his voice any time I want through this website.
Thank you, People’s Pharmacy for giving me and so many others that opportunity. And thank you again from the bottom of my (and my Dad’s) heart for allowing him to share his knowledge about such a simple wound healing treatment, to help others.
Samantha Knutson Richardson

Years ago, 1940’s, my mother put cane sugar in cuts on our farm animals and us kids also (barb wire cuts,etc.) My Dad had bee hives. She would stir sugar and honey together along with some lard she had rendered at hog-killing time.
My Mom grew up in Oklahoma in a community of Choctaw Indians, so she may have learned this from the tribe. She was not Native American. Thanks for the reminder.I have a knotty problem right now, so will try it.

I had a wound which was being treated by a dermatologist with hydrocortisone and a antifungal agent which did not seem to be helping. After 10 days I was lucky enough to hear the program with Dr. Knudson. As a retired pharmacist I prepared a mixture of: 3 parts of confectioners sugar to 0.5 part canola oil and added 0.5 part of petroleum jelly (to allow it to adhere to the wound). After applying it three times a day for 5 days the wound healed completely. The mixture should be mixed smoothly together and stored in a airtight container to keep it from drying out. Thank you for this remarkable treatment.

I was fascinated listening to Dr. Knutson and his sugar formula. I work in a rehab hospital and bedsores are a huge issue. I went home after listening to the program and told my husband about it. He thought it sounded crazy. Later that afternoon he was using a screwdriver that he had just sharpened, got distracted, and put it most of the way through his hand. He was in a lot of pain and once the bleeding stopped I told him I wanted to try the sugar poultice. He agreed to let me try. Within 30 minutes the pain was reduced. Two days later the hole began to close up, and by the end of the week it was closed up and healed over.
We both were amazed. This is definitely something I will continue to keep on hand and in an emergency kit. One thing I did notice that the extended show did not address is that the poultice smelled rancid if stored overnight, so I had to make a fresh poultice every morning. Maybe it is just the way the oil and powdered sugar smell when mixed together??? Thank you for sharing this radio segment. We are sold on it!!!

Dr. Knutson recommends putting Vaseline or cooking oil on the wound for the first day or day and a half (to allow for the bleeding to stop), and then adding the sugar (three or four parts sugar to one part oil, to make a paste). I’m assuming that the initial treatment with oil is to provide an air barrier, thereby depriving aerobic bacteria of what they need most – oxygen. The grease may reduce the pain as well, as covering a burn will reduce the pain – by excluding air, I believe. I need to buy some confectioners sugar for my first aid kit. That is sure a lot easier to get a hold of than bacteriophage!
Thanks, Terry and Joe, for another great show. The extended interview was most appreciated. If you keep presenting shows like this, eventually we won’t need health insurance.

I cannot resist responding to this fascinating show. In the late 1970’s I was on the board of a 40-bed home for the aged. At a meeting of several other homes the issue of bed sores and the difficulty in healing them came up. Our administrator, who had been trained as a nurse, told me (privately, and swore me to silence) that whenever our residents got bed sores she told nursing staff to treat them with sugar, just plain old granulated sugar, sprinkled lightly on the sore.
I do not think she knew about the use of oil or grease. Without exception the wounds healed. I could not understand why she had not told this to the group present at the meeting, but she had been severely taken to task by the (Oxford-trained) physician on the floor for using such an idiotic and dangerous treatment. Nurses were so impressed by the approach however, they continued to use it, I presume without troubling the physician on duty with this information.
I am not sure how our administrator learned about this technique, but if I remember correctly she nursed in France during the war and must have dealt with pretty horrific wounds.
Your Dr. Knudson (spelling?) is absolutely right. The only group for whom this treatment is dangerous are the pharmaceutical companies. Best wishes for the season from Canada.

Did I hear that sugar and cooking oil will cure bed sores? If so is there a formula for the amount of sugar per unit of oil? Is it known how the sugar works?
People’s Pharmacy response: You may want to read what Dr. Knutson says for some of the answers on using sugar and oil to heal wounds:

I caught snippets of this program while driving in to work Saturday morning. I’m interested in following up with more information, so I Googled the topic; but all I got was information on including sugar with an antibiotic regimen. Your guest spoke of using his sugar/oil blend exclusive of antibiotic. Where can I go to get further information on this topic? The immediate question is this: can it also work on fungal infections, in addition to cuts, burns etc?
People’s Pharmacy response: You can learn more about it in Dr. Knutson’s extended interview:

I had an uncle who was a nurse in a rest home near Cisco, TX, about 30 years ago. He had a patient with bad bedsores and could not get them to respond to any treatment. An old Indian was there and noticed my uncle’s problem. The Indian told my uncle to put sugar on the wound and bandage it.
My uncle was skeptical but did this as a last resort. To his amazement, in a few days the wounds began to heal. He tried it on other patients with the same amazing results.
Where the old Indian learned of this was uncertain. Must have been a tradition handed down through the tribe.
Roy W.

Most interesting presentation. What seemed missing was discussion of which kinds of “wounds” that Dr Knutson’s preparation will not heal, and of the precise formulation of the preparation. (Must admit, I was not able to listen to the complete show.) Also your promise of a web link to a published article led to one that spoke about use of sugar with a form of iodine, which latter substance may have been thought by some to drive the healing process, or at least to play the major part in preventing infection. Will you follow up on this show to attempt to identify what it will take, or has taken to create and assess the kind of “double-blind” statistical “Proof” to which you referred. What is the next move, and who (will be / is) taking it?
People’s Pharmacy response: We are not aware of double-blind studies of the sugar poultice. The extended interview does detail the types of wounds for which the sugar treatment works. It will not work well for stasis ulcers nor other wounds in which lack of circulation is a significant problem. The research that Dr. Knutson published was early, as you will note, when he was still using the Betadine ointment. He no longer uses that, but the more recent cases have not been published.

Hi, My wound cure is an old one. They used to use alum or sulfur to stop wound bleeding like razor nicks, etc, in the old days. Today, they make Styptic pencils, aluminum sulfate I think, for razor cuts. I use them to seal larger wounds, the same as you would use super glue. It works leaving a small line scar but better that a stich scar. It’s solid and easy to carry and work with and fast. FYI pg1246 o&o

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