Nutritional support for wound healing

Altern Med Rev. 2003 Nov;8(4):359-77.


Healing of wounds, whether from accidental injury or surgical intervention, involves the activity of an intricate network of blood cells, tissue types, cytokines, and growth factors. This results in increased cellular activity, which causes an intensified metabolic demand for nutrients. Nutritional deficiencies can impede wound healing, and several nutritional factors required for wound repair may improve healing time and wound outcome. Vitamin A is required for epithelial and bone formation, cellular differentiation, and immune function. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen formation, proper immune function, and as a tissue antioxidant. Vitamin E is the major lipid-soluble antioxidant in the skin; however, the effect of vitamin E on surgical wounds is inconclusive. Bromelain reduces edema, bruising, pain, and healing time following trauma and surgical procedures. Glucosamine appears to be the rate-limiting substrate for hyaluronic acid production in the wound. Adequate dietary protein is absolutely essential for proper wound healing, and tissue levels of the amino acids arginine and glutamine may influence wound repair and immune function. The botanical medicines Centella asiatica and Aloe vera have been used for decades, both topically and internally, to enhance wound repair, and scientific studies are now beginning to validate efficacy and explore mechanisms of action for these botanicals. To promote wound healing in the shortest time possible, with minimal pain, discomfort, and scarring to the patient, it is important to explore nutritional and botanical influences on wound outcome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / therapeutic use
  • Capillary Permeability
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Granulation Tissue / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Support*
  • Phytotherapy
  • Vitamins / physiology
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Amino Acids
  • Vitamins
  • Collagen