Minor Burns

Extensive burns or burns causing more than minor discomfort should be treated by a healthcare professional. For superficial burns caused by temperature (picking up a hot object, for example), natural medicine may be helpful after the burn is cleaned with soap and cold water and gently dried.

Nutritional supplements that may be helpful: Despite a lack of research on the subject, many doctors of natural medicine recommend using vitamin E topically on minor burns. This makes sense, because some of the damage done to the skin is oxidative, and vitamin E is an antioxidant.

Vitamin E can be found in both the tocopherol and tocopheryl forms. In the tocopheryl forms (such as alpha tocopheryl acetate), the vitamin E is attached to another molecule (like acetate) to keep the vitamin E protected. While the body has no problem separating vitamin E from the other molecule when swallowed, it remains unknown whether the skin can free vitamin E in the same way. Therefore, people using vitamin E topically on minor burns should use the tocopherol form, which is immediately usable by the skin.

Are there any side effects or interactions? Refer to the individual supplement for information about any side effects or interactions.

Herbs that may be helpful: Aloe has been historically used for many of the same conditions it is used for today, particularly minor burns. Topically for minor burns, the stabilized aloe gel is applied to the affected area of skin three to five times per day. Treatment of more serious burns should only be done after first consulting a healthcare professional.

Calendula cream can be applied to minor burns to soothe pain and help promote tissue repair. It has been shown in animal studies to be anti-inflammatory[1] and to aid repair of damaged tissues.[2] The cream is applied three times per day.

Gotu kola has been used in the medicinal systems of central Asia for centuries to treat numerous skin diseases. Saponins in gotu kola beneficially affect collagen (the material that makes up connective tissue) to inhibit its production in hyperactive scar tissue. Dried gotu kola leaf can be made into a tea by adding 1–2 teaspoons to 150 ml boiling water and allowing it to steep for ten to fifteen minutes. Three cups are usually drunk per day. Tincture can also be used at a dose of 10–20 ml three times per day. Standardized extracts containing up to 100% total triterpenoids are generally taken in the amount of 60 mg once or twice per day.

Are there any side effects or interactions? Refer to the individual herb for information about any side effects or interactions.

The information contained in this article is for information and education purposes only and is not medical advice. Do not use this information as an alternative to obtaining medical advice from your physician or other professional healthcare provider. Always consult with your physician or other professional healthcare provider about any medical conditions you are experiencing. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, contact your local emergency services for help.

[1] Della Loggia R, Tubaro A, Sosa S, et al. The role of triterpenoids in the topical anti-inflammatory activity of Calendula officinalis flowers. Planta Medica 1994;60:516–20.

[2] Patrick KFM, Kumar S, Edwardson PAD, Hutchinson JJ. Induction of vascularisation by an aqueous extract of the flowers of Calendula officinalis L the European marigold. Phytomedicine 1996;3:11–18.


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