Antioxidants and Wound Healing
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are termed “free” because they are missing a molecule, which makes them go wild to pair with another molecule. These free radicals will attack cells to acquire their missing molecule. In the process, the free radicals often cause cell injury and DNA damage, leading to various conditions including cancers, liver disease, heart disease, as well as wound healing problems.
Free radicals trigger a damaging chain reaction. They do not just damage one molecule but can set off a whole chain reaction. This can overwhelm the body’s natural defense system and the damage can lead to a number of problems.
Antioxidants work to prevent or stop the damaging effects that free radicals have started. Various antioxidants work differently. Therefore, it is best to have a mix of vitamins and minerals to neutralize the free radical damage more efficiently.
There are numerous substances that can act as antioxidants. The most widely known are vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene, manganese, selenium, glutathione, flavinoids, and phenols. Dietary souces include red beans, blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, artichokes, prunes, plums, apples, cherries, pecans, green tea, and many more.
It has been found out that antioxidants also help in wound healing. Wound healing requires a balance between oxidative stress and antioxidants. According to a study, the normal physiology of wound healing depends on low levels of reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress. An overexposure to oxidative stress leads to problems in wound healing. Antioxidants can help control wound oxidative stress and thereby speed up wound healing.
In wound healing, the body repairs itself after injury. Healing is a complex process of replacing devitalized cellular components and tissue layers. The process involves inflammation, proliferation, and maturation. In the inflammatory phase, blood flow is increased in the wound. In the proliferative phase, new blood vessels bring nutrients to the wound and dead tissue is removed. During maturation phase, the new skin seals the wound and may form a scar. Any agent that accelerates the process is a promoter of wound healing.
In the inflammatory response, neutrophils and cytokines produce oxidants, which act as free radicals. Antioxidants can therefore be used to reduce the oxidative stress and help in wound healing acceleration by donating electrons to the free radicals, thereby avoiding the damaging effects of oxidation.
Antioxidants have been found to improve wound healing. They have a role in the formation and maintenance of collagen during the healing of wounds. Other antioxidants can detoxify hydrogen peroxide which can cause damage to regenerating cells. Antioxidants also show promise in skin repair and regeneration. Thus, combinations of antioxidants have been used to enhance the healing of wounds.