Curcumin supplements and curcumin creams are extraordinarily useful in supporting the repair process in wound healing, but curcumin is not equally useful at every stage of the healing process.That is because every wound heals in an orderly progression of events.
In the very early stages of a wound, a little inflammation is actually beneficial. That is why wounds itch when they are healing. The hormones that cause inflammation also constrict blood vessels and keep bleeding in check.
Similarly, during the early stages of a wound, a minimal amount of blood clotting is also beneficial. Thromboplastin and platelets make a clot that closes the skin and closes the unnatural exposure of the circulatory system to air.
After a few days of inflammation, however, wounds begin to heal through a process called proliferation. Specialized skin repair cells known as fibroblasts manufacture collagen. Collagen fills in the wound. Inflammatory processes taper off and allow new blood vessels to provide oxygen and nutrients to tissues as they repair themselves. Collagen continues to form and give shape to tissues under the scar.
So when do you use curcumin?
Never apply curcumin, and avoid taking supplemental curcumin, right after you notice a wound. You really ought to avoid curcumin during the 3 to 4 days your skin is healing through an inflammation process. That is because curcumin is anti-inflammatory. In the earliest stages of wound healing, the wound needs inflammation to stop bleeding and prevent infection.
Curcumin is not helpful until after inflammation has stopped. If you have a diabetic ulcer or a pressure wound, this could be while the wound is still being debrided (cleaned), but taking curcumin while the wound is bleeding is too soon.
What does curcumin do after inflammation has stopped?
Both curcumin and the turmeric from which it is extracted activate a compound known as transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-b). Curcumin helps the tissue under the newly re-forming skin to model to fit the space left by the wound. Curcumin encourages the formation of new skin, and also enhances a signal to the immune system that recruits macrophages to “recycle” dead tissue.
Many people don’t get good results from curcumin creams for wound care because they use them too soon. Wait until your skin begins to heal before you apply curcumin, or any homemade skin cream you make with turmeric. Once the healing process is underway, however, curcumin and/or turmeric will help skin come back smoother and stronger faster than skin healing under its own power alone.
Photo credit: Harry Klenda