An 18 year old university student approaching final examinations was working part-time at a restaurant nearby. She had spilt a boiling hot cauldron of soup over her right hand and ran to my surgery in tears and desperation. Apart from her severe pain, her final examinations were imminent (she was right-handed), and eviction was imminent because of overdue rent. No wonder she was desperate.
The burn looked serious – almost certainly second degree. The whole palm was bright red and swollen. Under normal circumstances she would need two to three weeks off work at least and there was no chance of sitting her exams. Painful, time-consuming soaking off of daily dressings, wound debridement, pain control (invariably very difficult), infection (common), possible allergic reaction from antibiotic creams that do little to heal and a difficult social problem crossed my mind.
Meanwhile, her employer would need to find and train a replacement and most likely receive an increase in his workers` compensation premium because of sickness payments and medical bills.
But these were not normal circumstances. I had a trick up my sleeve that other doctors, including burns specialists, didn’t. I had wheatgrass – a powerful anti-inflammatory, analgesic and wound-healer.
I applied some wheatgrass liquid spray to the tearful girl’s hand along with a non-stick dressing and covered it with a protective bandage. I then wrote her a prescription for a strong analgesic and informed her she should be able to return to work in the morning. She shook her head firmly and said through a forced smile – “Impossible”, and left with an early morning appointment for the next day.
When I arrived at the clinic the next morning, she was sitting in the waiting-room minus the bandage and with a beaming smile on her face. The pain, she said, had disappeared around midnight and had not returned. She didn’t need analgesics! She also had a full range of pain-free movement of the hand and fingers, and there was no palpable tenderness, blistering or broken skin. The palm was mildly red, but that was all. Antibiotics were not necessary and she returned to work after the consultation. Needless to say, her employer was greatly relieved to see her back.
Since I began using wheatgrass for healing in 1995, I have never treated a second degree burn that became infected, nor have I had to resort to topical or oral antibiotics. Wheatgrass clearly is a potent anti-inflammatory/analgesic. It has to be to be able to eliminate burn pain so quickly and effectively, and prevent swelling, blistering and infection that so often occurs with these accidents. Numerous observations over the years have assured me that wheatgrass in some way helps the body heal itself, and there is growing scientific and clinical evidence that support these findings.
I have no doubt that if the wheatgrass extract spray was available in locations such as hospital emergency departments and ambulances, lives could be saved. After all, which other substance at once eases pain, prevents or reduces fluid and protein loss from the burn surface and strengthens local immunity to prevent infection? Nothing that I know of.
If doctors used wheatgrass for treating second degree burns, the savings to the hospitality, health and insurance industry would be substantial.
Dr. Chris Reynolds.