Evaluating the role of alternative therapy in burn wound management: randomized trial comparing moist exposed burn ointment with conventional methods in the management of patients with second-degree burns

MedGenMed. 2001 Mar 6;3(2):3.


Context: Moist exposed burn ointment (MEBO), from China, has been said to revolutionize burn management.

Objective: Our study was conducted to compare MEBO with conventional management (C) with respect to the rate of wound healing, antibacterial and analgesic effect, and hospital costs.

Design: This is a prospective, randomized, controlled clinical trial conducted between 1 March 1997 and 24 October 1998.

Setting: The trial was conducted in a specialized burn facility located in a tertiary referral hospital in a developed and industrialized island-state in Southeast Asia.

Patients: We randomly assigned 115 consecutive patients between the ages of 12 and 80 who had partial-thickness thermal burns covering less than 40% of body surface area (BSA) to receive either MEBO or C. Fifty-seven patients were assigned to MEBO and 58 patients to C. The latter group received twice-daily dressing changes; MEBO patients received MEBO every 4 hours.

Main outcome measures: Patients were hospitalized until 75% BSA had healed. BSA was determined by visual inspection and charted on Lund and Browder charts regularly. Wound healing rate, bacterial infection rate, pain score, and hospitalization costs were recorded.

Results: The median time to 75% healing was 17.0 and 20.0 days with MEBO and C, respectively (HR = 0.67, 95% CI = 0.41-1.11, P =.11), suggesting similar efficacy between the 2 modalities. Bacterial infection rates were similar between the 2 groups (HR = 1.10, 95% CI = 0.59-2.03, P =.76). MEBO imparted a greater analgesic effect in the first 5 days of therapy and reduced hospital costs by 8%.

Conclusions: MEBO is as effective as conventional management but is not the panacea for all burn wounds. The use of MEBO eases the management of face and neck burns and facilitates early institution of occupational therapy in hand burns. It confers better pain relief such that fewer opiates are used during the first 5 days after burn injury.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Infective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage
  • Bandages* / economics
  • Berberine
  • Burns / economics
  • Burns / therapy*
  • Complementary Therapies* / economics
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal*
  • Health Care Costs
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ointments* / economics
  • Pain Measurement
  • Plant Extracts
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sesame Oil
  • Singapore
  • Sitosterols
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Ointments
  • Plant Extracts
  • Sitosterols
  • Berberine
  • gamma-sitosterol
  • Sesame Oil