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Supplement Speeds Wound Healing

Antioxidant Cocktail Contains 4 Skin-Friendly Substances
By
WebMD Health News

July 8, 2004 -- Time may heal all wounds, but a new study shows that taking a supplement that combines several antioxidant nutrients can do it nearly 20% faster.

In practical terms, this translates to shaving about three days off the recovery time following a facelift or similar plastic surgery procedures.

"That really is dramatic, and frankly, I didn't expect it," says researcher Rod J. Rohrich, MD, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and chairman of plastic surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

"If you can translate this kind of faster healing after a facelift or a breast augmentation, you are talking about a cost savings in the recovery process and getting back to work sooner that could amount to billions [of dollars]," he tells WebMD.

In a small study, Rohrich and his colleagues at UT's Advanced Wound Healing and Tissue Regeneration Laboratory tested the effects of a new supplement called InflammEnz, available via the Internet but only with a doctor's prescription.

Twenty-six patients with open wounds from a biopsy received either the oral supplement daily or a placebo. Doctors monitored the healing process of their wounds.

The result: Those getting InflammEnz healed 17% faster, and experienced less redness and swelling at the site of the biopsy.

A Magic Ingredient or Combination?

InflammEnz, an herbal product, contains seven different nutrients and enzymes, including calcium and potassium. But there are four in particular that are suspected of boosting the healing process noted in Rohrich's study:

  • Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is required for the synthesis of collagen. It is also a highly effective antioxidant protecting cells from damage by free radicals. Studies have shown that the vitamin can help speed the healing process of wounds.
  • Bromelain is an anti-inflammatory enzyme found in the stem of pineapple plants. It reduces muscle and tissue swelling especially following injuries or surgery.
  • Rutin, a nutrient in plant foods, is believed to protect blood vessels, prevent bruising, and intensify the effect of vitamin C in the body.
  • Grape seed extract, a popular health supplement that evidence shows may build new blood vessels and help vitamin C enter cells, strengthening cell membranes and prevent scarring in tissue.

"Obviously, more study is needed before we can routinely recommend this product to plastic surgeons to help their patients heal faster, but it certainly is promising," Rohrich tells WebMD. "The next step is to separate each of these four ingredients out to better determine which one is really providing the benefit, or if there is an synergetic effect in which all four or some combination of them work together."

His current study, published in the July issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, was funded by Enzymes, Inc. of Parkville, Mo., the company that manufactures InflammEnz.

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