The human body is an amazing organism innately designed to maintain a state of homeostasis and good health. It is mindboggling how efficiently it works to restore homeostasis when something breaks down. Indeed, a complex interaction of cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems work relentlessly to maintain a state of good health—the natural state of the body.
The natural wound healing process is a great example of the body’s ability to heal itself when roadblocks are removed and normal processes supported. Four basic phases are followed to heal a wound: hemostasis, inflammatory, proliferative, and maturation.
- The hemostasis phase occurs rapidly and stops bleeding by constricting blood vessels and platelets that stick together to seal the opening in a damaged blood vessel.
- The second phase—inflammatory—regulates bleeding and prevents infection by recruiting specific cells to the wound site and cleaning out damaged cells and bacteria from the wound site.
- Next, during the proliferative phase, new tissue made of collagen and extracellular matrix contracts to close the wound. Myofibroblast cells grip the edge of the wound and pull them together. A new network of blood vessels is also produced in the area to supply oxygen and nutrients to the new tissue. Finally, epithelial cells resurface the injury.
- The final phase is maturation and involves remodeling of collagen type II to collagen type I, which fully closes the wound. Disorganized collagen deposited during the proliferative phase is restructured (cross-linking) to reduce scar thickness and strengthen the area. Cells that helped repair the area, that are no longer needed, are removed.
All of this occurs without any thought on our part. The body is well designed to perform all of these phases unless a foreign object or infection is present. While the body will only perform this process as fast as it is designed to, botanicals and the proper coverage of the area to retain moisture encourage well-organized and proficient wound healing.
Not surprisingly, research has revealed that many essential oils can help the body optimize this process and perform it as efficiently as possible. Here are eight essential oils that have beneficial restorative properties that aid the normal wound healing process:
- Helichrysum essential oil has been used for decades to promote normal hemostasis, which may be the reason it has the nickname “liquid stitches.”
- Prized for its musculoskeletal, digestive, and respiratory benefits, copaiba essential oil also aids the normal wound healing process. It does so by promoting the normal growth of blood vessels during the proliferative phase.
- Known for its digestive benefits, fennel essential oil also helps to cleanse wound sites. This suggests that fennel is supportive during the inflammatory phase.
- When used with other essential oils, frankincense supports the maturation phase and helps reduce the appearance of scars.
- It is not surprising that lavender is found on this list. It is one of the most skin-beneficial essential oils known. Lavender essential oil aids both the proliferative and maturation phases by increasing the presence of myofibrobalsts (cells essential for wound closure) and fibroblasts (cells that create collagen) at the wound site.
- Tea tree is prized for its cleansing properties. Scientists have observed that it supports the inflammatory phase of the wound healing process, which helps prevent infections.
- Rosemary essential oil reduces the activity of an enzyme called elastase. This enzyme breaks down elastin (a protein that gives your skin its elasticity). If insufficient elastin is present, it can result in slower wound healing. Rosemary also supports the proliferative and maturation phases, increasing collagen deposition and the growth of new blood vessels.
- German chamomile speeds the entire wound healing process by helping the body operate at its most efficient level.
Combinations of these essential oils can be mixed with fractionated coconut oil (keeps the skin moist, which is critical for the wound healing process) and applied to the wound site and covered with a bandage. For maximum benefits use an oil that supports each stage of the process in your blend. This will support optimal efficiency in the wound healing process and help reduce the appearance of scars.