Licking your wounds really works

A report by scientists from The Netherlands identifies a compound in human saliva that greatly speeds wound healing. This research may offer hope to people suffering from chronic wounds related to diabetes and other disorders, as well as traumatic injuries and burns. In addition, because the compounds can be mass produced, they have the potential to become as common as antibiotic creams and rubbing alcohol.

“We hope our finding is ultimately beneficial for people who suffer from non-healing wounds, such as foot ulcers and diabetic ulcers, as well as for treatment of trauma-induced wounds like burns,” said Menno Oudhoff, first author of the report.

Specifically, scientists found that histatin, a small protein in saliva previously only believed to kill bacteria was responsible for the healing.

“This study not only answers the biological question of why animals lick their wounds,” said Dr. Gerald Weissmann, “it also explains why wounds in the mouth, like those of a tooth extraction, heal much faster than comparable wounds of the skin and bone. It also directs us to begin looking at saliva as a source for new drugs.”

Fascinating stuff. It would seem reasonable to conclude that products that mimic the capabilities of saliva would be something easily synthesized and mass-produced.

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