Tools to help stop bleeding wounds
Hundreds of injuries result in rapid blood loss that can be life-threatening. Estimates are that each year about 60,000 people bleed to death in this country, and tens of thousands more lose enough blood to require a transfusion.
Even bleeding from less-serious cuts, nosebleeds, and abrasions can be difficult to stop at times. Compression wraps, ice, and elevating a wound can help, but not always. Fortunately, there are other tools I recommend including in your first-aid kit to help stop bleeding wounds.
QR (“Quick Relief”) Powder
Available at many mass-market retailers, QR Powder is a fine, dry powder made from a mixture of a potassium ferrate and a proton-rich hydrophilic polymer that when applied with light pressure on a surgical or traumatic wound, stops the bleeding almost instantly. It also forms a protective seal over a bleeding wound that helps prevent infection. Look for it in your local stores or order online.
With its anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and antioxidant properties, I’d probably have an easier time listing what turmeric can’t do. In addition to the aforementioned health benefits, this spice used in curry also helps stop bleeding cuts. I once got a letter from a chef who wrote that he loved to cook with turmeric, and had come to admire its ability to stop bleeding. He said that putting turmeric powder directly on cuts causes blood to clot almost instantly.
You can find turmeric in grocery stores. Larger quantities can be ordered from Penzey’s Spices at 800-741-7787, or Penn Herb Co., Ltd. at 800-523-9971. A more reliable (but more expensive) alternative is a turmeric supplement concentrated and standardized for curcumin, such as Turmeric Power by Nature’s Herbs, which can be found in health food stores. These can be opened and applied to wounds, or taken orally for turmeric’s many other benefits. Start with two to three capsules a day, and adjust the dose as needed.
Wound Care from the Tropics
Once you stop the initial bleeding, the next step in wound care is to start the healing process. Unlikely as it may sound, pineapple and papaya make excellent infection-fighters and speed healing.
In tropical regions, I’ve witnessed numerous occasions where healers applied raw pineapple directly to open wounds. Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that is called a “protease” which means it breaks down proteins, reducing them to their basic building blocks. Topical application of the pineapple plant to wounds speeds up healing time and prevents infection. In one particular case I saw, it was used as the sole treatment for a Haitian cane field worker who severely cut his leg to the bone with a machete. The wound healed remarkably fast, and he was back to work in less than two weeks.
If you’re ever injured in the tropics, raw pineapple and sugar are usually two items you can readily find to pack a wound. Both will prevent infection and facilitate healing.
Additionally, the pulp from papayas contains the proteolytic enzymes papain and chymopapain, and has been used for centuries to remove warts and other skin imperfections. Apparently the pulp has components that exhibit antimicrobial activity.
Doctors in the pediatric burn center at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Banjul, Gambia, Africa have informed me that pulp from the papaya fruit makes an excellent burn dressing. Due to a very limited budget and resources, they have been using papaya because it is cheap and abundant in the area. The pulp of the papaya is mashed and applied directly to burns. The children tolerate it well, and it has proven to be very effective at sloughing off dead tissue, preventing infections, and providing a clean wound for later skin grafts, if necessary. Doctors are also applying the pulp to infected wounds with successful results.