Leg (venous) ulcers are very common, and increase in number as the aged population increases.
For instance, they affect approximately 1% of Australians, and can often be very difficult to heal. Many never do.
There are a number of underlying causes of leg ulcers such as diabetes, poor circulation, varicose veins, trauma etc. The treatment of these ulcers varies from one doctor, hospital and nurse to another. Yet the huge and ever-growing global ulcer-healing industry is yet to find a simple, effective and economical way to heal them. The cost to patients for dressings, domiciliary and hospital care etc. can be substantial.
These patients often suffer pain and often have to endure the unsightliness of wet dressings and malodour due to bacterial wound infection. Because of the usual slow-healing nature of these ulcers, many patients often feel helpless and depressed, aggravating their plight even further.
But, there is hope for many of them, because wheatgrass extract has remarkable healing properties as shown in these examples.
Case No. 1
This 71 y.o. male suffered from constantly recurring ulcer on both his ankles for 35 years. Although he was overweight with high blood pressure there were no other underlying medical issues such as diabetes or smoking.
He began applying a light spray of wheatgrass Skin Recovery Spray (just one spray) once a week. Within 6 months, his skin has healed completely.
Case No. 2
The skin of this 82 year old man’s lower legs had been breaking down for 6 months. As the skin thins with ageing, often a minor injury causes exudate (tissue fluid) to find its way through to the surface of the skin. This opens a small wound that can then develop into a venous ulcer. The skin scales and scabs form over the broken areas. If this process isn’t halted, ulcers can coalesce and deepen. This patient was well aware of the potential for further deterioration.
I explained how wheatgrass could work for him by helping to restore blood circulation to the area. This in turn would create new skin cells which can heal the several small ulcers that were present, strengthening the skin. He applied the wheatgrass extract twice weekly (experience has shown that one application a month is sufficient), and kept the area covered with a dry dressing.
The photographs show that in just 9 days there has been significant improvement. The scale and overlying crusts have almost disappeared and the ulcerated areas have healed. The skin is smoother and regaining its natural strength and texture.
Case No. 3
This is an inflamed, very painful ulcer over the shin in an 80 year old man who had been taking corticosteroid medication (prednisolone) for emphysema for nearly 8 years. One of the adverse side effects of steroids is atrophy or thinning of the skin. These patients bleed and bruise easily. Also, immune suppression caused by steroids can predispose wounds to infection and significantly slow the healing process.
This ulcerated lower leg and foot, caused by a minor injury, had been present for 5 months and was clearly not improving. By applying the wheatgrass spray, in just 13 weeks, the ulcer has healed completely. No antibiotics were required and the patient’s pain disappeared after the first month of treatment.
Note: Considerable experience since writing this presentation nearly 20 years ago, has shown that "less is best" when using wheatgrass for treating leg (and other) ulcers. One application per month is significantly more effective for healing to occur.
For instance, this patient (see photo below) has suffered for many years from a very large venous ulcer that gradually increased in size over several years. However, after one application of wheatgrass extract, it is quite clear that the wound has dried up significantly, and the blood circulation to the ulcer area has improved dramatically. Although this patient was lost to follow up, the rapid improvement of the state of his open wound is obvious. His wound would almost certainly have healed had he continued with the treatment.
Which wheatgrass formulation should I use for leg ulcers?
Because the Skin Recovery Spray (Dr Wheatgrass brand) contains the least number of ingredients there is little chance of an allergic reaction which is rare anyway when using wheatgrass. Also, creams tend to block the passage of bioactives in wheatgrass through the skin which may slow the healing process. It is therefore advisable to avoid all other skin preparations such as moisturisers, petroleum jelly, soap, zinc oxide etc. Use boiled (but cold) water to cleanse the wound.
In most cases, we are dealing with fragile skin, so it is best to hasten slowly. Apply just a light spray AROUND the ulcer(s) (it doesn’t matter if the wound is sprayed as well) once a month only - and persevere.
The reason for this is that the microcirculation on the floor of the ulcer usually recovers quite quickly, causing new granulation tissue (connective tissue cells and tiny blood vessels etc.) to re-form. However, over-treating can lead to an increase in exudate (fluid containing protein and cellular debris) that can break down the surrounding skin. In the elderly, the skin can be quite fragile. Remember, when using wheatgrass, "less is best".
If healing stagnates or exudate (fluid) increases, stop wheatgrass altogether for a month. By then the exudate should have subsided, so you can revert to the once monthly application.
Also, the skin surrounding the ulcer(s) tends to strengthen after several weeks. This helps reduce skin damage by adhesive dressings, tape etc.
Responses can vary, but by applying wheatgrass monthly only, produces best results, but daily cleansing of the wound should continue. This simple process enables the non-medically trained to treat at home. However, regular check-ups by the patient's doctor are essential.
Prevention is better than cure
Although wheatgrass can accelerate leg ulcer healing, it is much better to prevent ulcers developing. This can be achieved by applying just a small amount of wheatgrass extract (spray preferred), once weekly to the vulnerable shin/ankle areas.
Dr. Chris Reynolds.