How Turmeric Aids in Wound Healing [Updated]

A wound, if not treated properly and on time, may cause infections and lower the functionality of the affected area.

Turmeric offers a natural solution as it has excellent anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and wound-healing potentials.

Wound healing can be accelerated by application and consumption of some drugs and natural substances like turmeric. Turmeric is of the best healing herbs.

Let us know more about it (you can skip this section and jump to benefits directly using the Table of Contents).

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric has been used since ages as a spice and a medicinal herb in Asian countries.

Several species of turmeric are available worldwide, the most common being Curcuma Longa. The rhizomes of this plant are dried and ground to form turmeric powder.

Recent studies have affirmed the numerous benefits of this magical herb that were already documented in Ayurveda.

According to scientists, Turmeric and its active constituent curcumin, possess anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, and wound healing properties.

Let us find out how the use of Turmeric can result in faster healing and recovery from wounds.

10 Benefits of Turmeric in Wound Healing

Turmeric, owing to its potent anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and wound healing properties, is a natural remedy that is being used for many generations in this regard. Turmeric could be applied both topically and taken internally to alleviate the symptoms of pain, swelling, and infection to the wounded area to prevent further damage. It comes with the added benefit of no severe side effects, unlike conventional medications.

Turmeric Helps To Reduce Wound Inflammation

Inflammation is a protective mechanism adopted by the body to protect us from further damage from harmful stimuli.

It is characterized as heat, redness, swelling, and pain in and around the wounded area.

Such a response is the result of the accumulation of immune cells at the site and the leakage of plasma from the injured blood vessels.

Though beneficial initially, inflammation, when persistent for a prolonged period, is detrimental to health as it has the potential to cause damage to the neighboring healthy cells and also delay healing of the wound.

Numerous studies have reported turmeric to be effective in inflammatory disease conditions in different ways.

It suppresses the generation of inflammatory mediators such as Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), Interferons and certain Interleukins – Interleukin 1 and Interleukin

It also contains the expression of genes coding for pro-inflammatory enzymes such as cyclooxygenase, thereby blocking the production of prostaglandins essential for the process of inflammation.

In this manner, turmeric counteracts inflammation of the wounded area resulting in symptomatic relief and prevention of further complications.

What it means:

Turmeric can help in reducing the swelling and redness in and around the wound by inhibiting inflammatory response in multiple ways.

Turmeric is a Potent Anti-Oxidant

Prolonged inflammation, immune system responses, and infections result in oxidative stress, and in return, oxidative stress leads to further intensification of the inflammatory response and delay in wound healing.

It is a vicious cycle.

Curcumin, one of the primary active constituents in turmeric, has shown to have potent antioxidant activity and therefore has several therapeutic applications.

Curcumin acts by scavenging free radicals – Reactive Oxygen Species, superoxide anion radicals, hydroxyl radicals, and Reactive Nitrogen Species generated by metabolic reactions of wounded cells and also by cells involved in the immune system – fibrocytes and keratinocytes.

It also by another pathway reduces oxidative stress by inhibiting enzymes such as lipid peroxidase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase involved in potentiating free radical cell injury.

Another mechanism of action of Curcumin in this regard is the upregulation of production and activity of glutathione – a naturally occurring antioxidant in the body.

In these different pathways, Curcumin exerts a potent antioxidant effect in wounds and even other chronic disease conditions.

What it means: Turmeric is effective in wounds as it prevents further progression and helps in faster healing of the wounds by its antioxidant activity.

Turmeric Can Heal And Prevent Infections Of The Wound

Infection can severely hamper wound repair and healing. An open wound, especially, is an easy target for a plethora of microorganisms to house and multiply further.

An infection in a wound could also lead to life-threatening conditions like sepsis and septic shock if not taken care of promptly.

Turmeric has long been used for its broad spectrum of anti-microbial effects on a variety of bacteria, fungi, and other parasites.

Curcumin exerts its anti-microbial effect by damaging cell walls of the microorganisms, making them more susceptible to destruction by immune cells and also compromises cell integrity by causing disassembly of cellular filaments ultimately inhibiting microbial cell growth and multiplication – this is hoe curcumin contains the infection and prevents it from spreading systemically to other organs of the body via the bloodstream.

A mixture of Curcumin with other anti-microbial agents is often used in anti-microbial formulations for wound dressing.

Curcumin is effective against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, such as E. coli, Salmonella, Klebsiella, and Staphylococcus bacterial strains.

Curcumin has also been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which form biofilms on the wound, delaying wound healing by reducing the size and density of the biofilm layer.

It has also demonstrated potent anti-microbial activity on multidrug-resistant bacteria such as the Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strain, which exhibits resistance to most antibiotics from the ones used commonly to the more potent ones.

This makes Curcumin a promising agent to explore further.

What it means: Turmeric has an anti-microbial effect on a broad spectrum of microorganisms and therefore, can help prevent and also fasten the process of wound healing. It can also prevent the infection from progressing systemically.

turmeric benefits for wound healing

Turmeric Increases The Efficacy Of Antibiotic Medications

Numerous research studies have shown that turmeric works synergistically with several antibiotic medications when taken alongside the management of infections.

Curcumin potentiates the activity of antibiotic medications by inducing cell filament fragmentation and leakage of the cell membrane of the microorganisms resulting in the breakdown of the microbial cell not allowing it to either grow or multiply further, making it more prone to the effects of the medications.

Studies have reported that even against resistant bacteria such as Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Curcumin when given along with antibiotics, showed better inhibitory results than the medication singularly.

Reports indicate that this combination of Curcumin with antibiotic medications also resulted in a lower dose of the medicine required for the suppression of bacterial growth and division.

In case of wounds, wherein there is a high chance of contracting an infection and it spreading to other organs through the bloodstream, it becomes very important to manage the disease appropriately in which case turmeric could help substantially but improving the efficacy of conventional antibiotic therapy, also aiding in wound healing and shortening the time of repair.

Turmeric could, therefore, be a promising agent to take along with regular antibiotics as they work well together in combating infections.

What it means: Turmeric works synergistically with antibiotic medications in eradicating infections associated with wounds, thereby proving symptomatic relief and arresting the condition from progressing further.

Turmeric Enhances The Protective Inflammatory Response

The second phase of wound healing involves a protective inflammatory response, which is
potentiated by turmeric to allow for the migration of immune cells and cells required in wound repair and remodeling.

Turmeric inhibits any prolonged inflammatory pathways to allow for faster recovery and stop further complications.

What it means: Turmeric enhances the initial protective inflammatory response that helps protect the wound from further damage and allows the infiltration of regenerative cells and growth factors.

Turmeric Promotes Cell Proliferation And Recruitment To The Wound Area

Curcumin accelerates the infiltration of cells such as macrophages, neutrophils, and fibroblasts to the wounded area and allows for faster wound contraction.

The migration of various cells provides potential growth factors required for the regulation of biological pathways involved in wound healing.

Transforming growth factor (TGF-β1) is crucial in wound healing as it stimulates the expression of fibronectin and collagen by fibroblasts. This release of fibronectin and collagen fastens the rate of formation of granulation tissue.

Curcumin also accelerates the process of the creation of a new epithelial cell layer over the wounded area called re-epithelialization. It also helps speed up the process of formation of new connective tissue or granulation tissue associated with the wound.

Curcumin enhances the formation of new blood vessels to take over the damaged blood vessels to restore adequate blood circulation in the region to ensure nutrient delivery and removal of toxic and waste metabolites and materials.

What it means: Turmeric promotes regeneration of different cell layers in and around the wound tissue and form new blood vessels to help the area heal faster and preventing it from prolonged exposure to potential pathogens.

Turmeric Potentiates Maturation And Remodeling Of Wound Tissues

The process of wound healing exposes the body to extensive amounts of oxidative stress due to the generation of free radicals in the process.

Curcumin is said to improve the quality of the healing process as it has potent antioxidant properties.

On the other hand, Curcumin also increases the synthesis of collagen, the primary constituent of the epidermal cell layer at the wound site, and which also acts as a supportive matrix for the regenerative tissue required for wound healing.

Curcumin is associated with enhanced maturation and cross-linking of collagen by different pathways – it increases the stability of collagen; it promotes wound shrinkage and tensile strength of the skin.

What it means: In totality, Curcumin accelerates wound healing, repair, and remodeling of damaged wound tissues by controlling oxidative stress damage.

Turmeric Helps In Healing Burn Wounds

Wound healing and tissue repair in burn injuries are considered to involve a play of inflammation, granulation, and remodeling of the tissue.

Oxidative stress generated in the process plays an essential role in the delay of healing, promotes burn progression, and leads to poor outcomes.

Curcumin may acts as a single step solution instead of using multiple medications such as pain relievers, Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs NSAIDs, and anti-biotics and comes with much fewer side effects.

It not only helps in symptomatic relief but also accelerates burn wound repair and regeneration.

What it means: Turmeric alleviates most symptoms associated with burn wounds such as pain, swelling, and redness. It accelerates the regeneration of wounded tissues and thereby shortens the time of healing.

Curcumin Enhances Healing Of Diabetic Ulcers And Wounds

Diabetic wounds and foot ulcers are highly susceptible to infections and hence heal difficultly and take much more time to repair.

This is because the high glucose levels in the blood compromise blood circulation to the area and impair stimulation and activity of the immune system.

A growing body of evidence suggests that Curcumin fastens the healing time of such diabetic wounds by accelerating collagen deposition, the formation of new blood vessels, and regeneration of epithelial cell layers and new connective tissues in the wounded region.

What it means: Turmeric is beneficial in healing several diabetic wounds and ulcers by reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, and tissue repair.

Turmeric Helps In Controlling Bleeding From The Wound

The healing of a wound happens in several progressive steps. The clotting Phase is the first step in the entire process.

Curcumin is known to have coagulant properties as it helps in preventing a wound from bleeding in the time just after the injury. This significantly controls the amount of blood loss from the wound.

What it means: Initially, when the wound is open, and the blood vessels are damaged, Curcumin, when applied topically, controls excessive blood loss from the injured tissues.

Turmeric Aids In Healing Of Radiation Wounds

Radiation therapy routinely used in the treatment of cancer causes significant skin damage and inflicts wounds.

Studies have associated pre-treatment with turmeric to have better outcomes in terms of lower incidence rates of radiation-induced wounds and inflammation, also known as dermatitis.

A study reported oral Curcumin to be associated with decreased severity of radiation-induced dermatitis and desquamatisation in breast cancer patients.

What it means: Turmeric as a pre-treatment or even during the course of radiation therapy could potentially decrease the development of dermatitis and skin wounds, improving the overall quality of life.

Turmeric Accelerates Healing Of Different Kinds Of Wounds

Turmeric has reported being useful in fastening the repair and healing of cutaneous incisional wounds inflicted as part of surgical procedures by decreasing wound closure time, alleviating inflammation, and oxidative stress.

Studies have shown that Curcumin has the potential to revert the effects of agents like aspirin and steroidal medications such as dexamethasone of hampering and delaying the biological rate and process of wound healing.

Topical Curcumin has also shown promise in enhancing the repair, regeneration, and re-epithelialization at the wound site in case of Carbon dioxide laser injury in preclinical studies.

What it means: Turmeric could be a potential aid in potentiating repair of incisional wounds from surgery, negate the hampered wound healing effect of certain drugs and help heal injuries from laser exposure faster.

Novel turmeric and curcumin formulations

Now, when the benefits of turmeric in wound healing have been well-established, the scientists are working on applying it practically by creating novel formulations with improved bioavailability and delivery of turmeric and curcumin to the wounds.

Wound dressings, bandages, fibrous mats, hydrogels, sponges and foams loaded with turmeric and other natural healers like honey, aloe vera, Neem (Melia azardichta), etc. have been developed.

Moreover, nanoformulations like chitosan microspheres, silver nanoparticles, nanocomposites, and nanofibres ensure better absorption by the body.

The dosage of Turmeric for Wound Healing

Turmeric can be taken both orally and topically for healing wounds.

Oral intake

There is no specific dosage of turmeric for complete wound healing and repair. However, inclusion in the diet is safe and can prove beneficial.

Turmeric and curcumin are poorly absorbed by the body. (Read How to improve Turmeric’s bioavailability?)

An effective way to take turmeric is with black pepper and healthy fats as the Golden paste. This considerable improves turmeric’s utilization by the body.

Here is the recipe to make Golden paste using turmeric powder. If using fresh turmeric roots, find the recipe here.

Start with small doses of ¼- ½ tsp a day. If no gastric side effects are seen, one can increase the dose gradually by ¼- ½ tsp a week till the ideal dosage of 1 tsp thrice a day (or 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day) is reached.

Avoid taking the golden paste on an empty stomach. (Read Does turmeric cause acid reflux?)

If taking large doses, avoid taking it simultaneously with medicines. (Read: Black pepper in GP: Does it cause Drug interaction?)

Apart from the Golden paste, turmeric can be taken as Turmeric milk (recipe here) and Turmeric tea (recipe here). It can also be added to soups, curries, smoothies or rice dishes.

If opting for turmeric/curcumin supplements, consult a healthcare professional.

Topical application

Topical application of turmeric on wound ensures localized delivery and enhanced absorption of turmeric which then helps in earlier and better recovery.

Scientists have developed many formulations containing turmeric to be used topically as wound dressings.

Turmeric has been found to be safe for topical application on skin wounds. However, some people might be allergic to certain spices and therefore, consult a patch test prior, if using for the first time.

For wound healing, take sufficient amount of turmeric powder and mix it with oil, preferably olive oil or coconut oil and apply to the affected area.

Leave it for at least 30 minutes and if required, cover with gauze. Repeat 2-3 times a day.

How to buy good turmeric powder?

If you are unsure how to buy good turmeric powder, please check our recommendations here>

Precautions to be taken

Dietary intake of turmeric is safe. However, when taking turmeric supplements, few precautions should be kept in mind. (Read Side Effects of Turmeric)

Avoid turmeric supplements during pregnancy, lactation, prior to surgery and if suffering from gallbladder obstruction or bleeding disorders.

Turmeric intake should be limited by people suffering from gout or having a risk of developing kidney stones.

In case of bleeding disorders, the inclusion of turmeric in the diet is safe. However, it is best to consult with your doctor before using either turmeric or turmeric supplements.

Avoid taking turmeric con an empty stomach to avoid symptoms of acid reflux.

Turmeric may interact with some drugs including anti-diabetics and anti-depressants, etc. Curcumin in turmeric has been known to interfere in the process of drug metabolism in the body.

Thus, concomitant use of turmeric/curcumin supplements with any other medications should be avoided.

Research Studies

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Study 1 – Curcumin Enriched Hyalurosomes for Skin Inflammation and Wound Healing

A recent study published in the journal ‘Biomaterials’ explored the efficacy of Hyalurosomes enriched with Curcumin in healing inflamed skin and wounds.

Scientists have recently developed small vesicles with the help of sodium hyaluronate and Curcumin formulation.

Vesicles are small membrane-bound structures present in the cells. They help in the movement of materials into and out of the cells.

These vesicles were called hylaurosomes and the purpose was to see if they can deliver the drug to the intact and damaged skin.

The preparation did not consist of an organic solvent. Sodium hylauronate and Curcumin were added to soy phospholipids directly to prepare Hyalurosomes and liposomes.

Their physical and chemical properties were studied carefully and compared.

They observed that these vesicles were small (112-220 nm in size) and spherical. The drug deposition on intact skin was fast with Hyalurosomes.

They protected the skin cells on the outermost skin layer from oxidative damage and helped in the regeneration of damaged tissues by the mechanism of cell proliferation and cell migration.

It protected the skin from inflammation and injuries caused by 12-O tetradecanoilphorbol (TPA), prevents oedema where water accumulates in cavities and tissues, inhibits the activity of oxidative enzyme myeloperoxydase and restores the damaged skin surface.

Conclusion

Curcumin, the polyphenolic curcuminoid of turmeric, is a potent healer of inflammation, wounds, and injuries.

Recently developed Hyalurosomes loaded with Curcumin can be promising vehicles to deliver the drug to the skin. The formulation does not comprise an organic solvent.

They have the ability to restore damaged tissues.

They protect the skin cells from inflammation and injuries produced by TPA and oxidative damage by suppressing the activity of oxidative enzymes like myeloperoxydase and also prevent fluid accumulation in skin tissues.

A very safe and easily available compound, turmeric can thus be used on the skin in case of wounds and injuries for quick treatment.

Study 2: Antibacterial Activity of Curcumin – Amoxicillin Combo

Curcumin inhibits the growth of a large number of bacterial strains.

To validate its antibacterial properties, a group of scientists from NMIMS University, Mumbai performed an experiment.

The aim of the experiment was to bring into light, the antibacterial activity of Curcumin-amoxicillin combo so that less amount of amoxicillin is required at the time of disease to prevent antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

They employed the pour plate technique to check the extent of inhibition caused by the following bacterial strains-

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Escherichia coli
  • Proteus vulgaris
  • Salmonella typhi

In pour plate technique for checking the anti-microbial activity of a substance, circular zones of inhibition are formed around that substance indicating the absence of microbial growth.

In the experiment conducted, the researchers found that both Curcumin and amoxicillin inhibit the growth of bacteria. But, the microbial activity of amoxicillin decreases significantly when it is used in combination with Curcumin.

Conclusion

Turmeric is an important spice and a very useful therapeutic.

It exhibits powerful antibacterial activity. It can thus, be highly beneficial in fending off a number of diseases caused by pathogenic bacteria like typhoid caused by Salmonella typhi.

The research is proof of its anti-bacterial properties. It inhibited the growth of bacteria both alone as well as in combination with an antibiotic like Amoxicillin.

However, it was found that the anti-microbial activity of amoxicillin lowered significantly when used in combination with Curcumin.

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Conclusion

Turmeric has been scientifically proven to promote wound healing.

The mechanisms behind this action have also been studied extensively and it has been reported that turmeric carries out this function due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

It also has the ability to regulate production and activation of several body cells, proteins, factors and immune components involved in this complex process.

With an additional anti-microbial feature, turmeric offers a safer more effective approach to prevent wound infections and facilitate early recovery.

About the Author

Shruti (BE Biotech. & PGD Clinical Research)

Turmeric for Health's writer team consists of passionate writers from the fields of biotechnology, pharmacy, nutrition, Ayurveda & microbiology.Our writers are highly qualified with many having Ph.D., M.Tech & MSc degrees while others having B.Tech, BSc, B.Pharm. Our differentiation lies in researching and presenting ONLY FACTUAL SCIENTIFIC information. We spend 10s of hours to write a single article. Info of our articles is sourced from reliable scientific sources which are also provided as a link alongside for readers to refer if they want. You can read more about our team in the " About us" section.

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32 Comments

  1. I am treating any wound with Turmeric mixed with good pure honey
    On my wounds
    On my dogs whe he has a wound and always heals just fine and quick

    1. Hi. Yes in India, it is a common practice to put turmeric powder (the one used for cooking) on wounds. However, if that is not possible you could consider making a paste with organic turmeric powder and coconut/olive oil and apply it to the affected region. Cover with gauze if necessary. Please conduct a patch test first.
      Alternatively, you could use a turmeric based ointment.

  2. I’ve had several deep cuts, whenever I treat it with a paste of raw honey and turmeric, and seal it so no air will contact, the wound stays moist and protected, heals very fast with little scar tissue.

  3. Do not use turmeric on an open wound. Its a waste of time and it causes a lot of excess pain. Better to find an antibiotic ointment or something medically proven to heal and reduce pain. After 3 days of treatment my leg looks and feels much worse than if I had used nothing at all.

    1. Turmeric like everything God created is the medicine for our body’s since the life of the body is in the blood. However if the life style is still the same it would be like putting a bandaid on a open wound. It will be nothing. Is like me takin poison and medicine at the same time.
      I have witness many people healed from cancer and many other diseases from using the very Same remedies I have mention. Change in life style that includes nutrition, plenty of water, exercise, sunlight, trust in God, dressing the limbs as well as keeping the circulation free from ostroction, temperance , cleanliness, rest, fresh air. Try it all for ten days without cheating yourself or excuses and you will be amaze. Don’t take my word.

  4. Dear sir.. I have 1 round shape deep cuts in my face?…how to I will got normally in my face? Turmeric cream is good for me?

    1. Hi. Turmeric may help reduce the scars and accelerate wound healing but this depends on the age of the wounds. If it is a fairly old wound, turmeric may not be of help. You can apply a paste of turmeric with coconut/olive oil on the affected area 2-3 times a day. Leave for at least 20 minutes and then wash with cool water. Conduct a patch test prior. Also it is advisable to consult a dermatologist about it.

    1. Hi. You can make a paste of turmeric with coconut or olive oil and apply it to the affected area. Conduct a patch test prior. Turmeric does help with insect bites but we do not have any definitive resources regarding whether it would prevent the poison entry.

  5. My Aunt has leukemia. I am trying to go to laboratories and asking for a cure. But, they say i’m too young. How can i Make a cure?

    1. Turmeric is highly beneficial in wound healing. It can help in controlling bleeding and initiate scar formation. However please use with caution in case of open wounds and deep cuts because it depends on the quality of turmeric used, the condition of the wound and also whether turmeric suits you or no.
      Traditionally turmeric is sprinkled on a wound to control bleeding but it is advisable to mix good quality turmeric in organic coconut or olive oil to form a paste and apply it to a bandage or gauze and then cover the wound. Conduct a patch test prior.

        1. Hi. Turmeric may help in reducing the inflammation and swelling but we can’t comment to what extent it would help. Please consult a doctor about this.

    1. Ajeeth you can make a paste of turmeric powder with coconut oil and apply it to the affected area 2-3 times a day. You can cover the area with bandage or gauze and leave it on for at least 30 minutes. This should help in wound healing. Make sure you get good quality turmeric powder and conduct a patch test prior.

    2. I am treating any wound with Turmeric mixed with good pure honey
      On my wounds
      On my dogs whe he has a wound and always heals just fine and quick

    1. Turmeric is good for skin and healing rashes and hence should help in heat rash. You can conduct a patch test prior. Mix adequate amount of turmeric powder in olive or coconut oil and apply to the affected region. Leave for 20-30 minutes and wash with cool water. Repeat twice a day.

      1. Can it be used on a stage 4 wound that is mostly healed. Can it help speed it up. If so how much of the olive or coconut oil and aloe etc. to use in the paste.

        1. Yes turmeric speeds up wound healing. Depending on the size of area affected you can take adequate quantity of turmeric powder and mix it with a few tablespoons of oil and aloe vera gel to form a paste like consistency. There is no specific ratio as such. Conduct a patch test prior.

    1. Turmeric helps in wound healing. Research does show that is useful in treating scars of caesarean section and keloids, but there isnt concrete evidence available on this. If it is an old scar it mostly wouldn’t help. For topical application make a paste of turmeric powder in olive/coconut oil and apply 1-2 times a day. Please do a patch test prior.