Olive oil can help speed up the wound healing process.

There are many different types of wounds, from minor abrasions to surgical incisions, each with different methods for wound care. One of the most painful and hard to care for is a thermal burn caused by direct contact with an external heat source such as fire, scalding liquid, hot objects, radiation and even steam. Depending on the degree of the burn, there are a variety of ways to treat damaged tissue, and severe burns often require debridement as well as medications to reduce pain and the risk of wound infections. One element that may help enhance the healing process is olive oil.

How does olive oil affect wound healing?

When it comes to wound healing, the first thing to know about olive oil is that it should not be directly applied to the affected area. As the University of Maryland Medical Center notes, you should never apply oil, ice or butter to the site – despite old wives’ tales – even if it is a first-degree burn that you choose to care for at home. Instead, olive oil can benefit the body during the recovery body through ingestion.

The nutritional advantages of olive oil have been long known by the medical community. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, making it a healthier alternative to butter, vegetable oil and other foods high in saturated fats. As the UM Medical Center points out, the fatty acids found in this product can actually reduce inflammation, which can help you speed up the wound healing stages.

What do scientists say about olive oil?

A study published in the journal Burns looked into the effect of taking olive oil orally on the body’s ability to recover from a burn-related wound. It involved 100 patients at a mean age of 33.3 years, all of whom had deep second-degree burns that covered 10 to 20 percent of the total body surface area. Some were directed to implement olive oil into their diets, while the control group used sunflower oil. The participants were evaluated on a daily basis to check for wound infection, sepsis and the healing rate of grafted skin.

The results showed that those who took olive oil had significantly shorter duration of wound healing and had shorter hospital stays compared to the control group. As such, the researchers concluded that an oral diet of olive oil in burn victims may accelerate the recovery process and reduce the duration of hospitalization.

How do I incorporate olive oil into my diet?

While you could eat olive oil on its own, this option may not be suitable to the taste buds. Fortunately, there are many ways to incorporate this rich food into your diet – often in very unnoticeable ways. In most recipes, butter, margarine and tropical oils can be replaced with olive oil – use it in cakes, salad dressings, gravies, sauces and other edibles that require fats. This product can also be rubbed on poultry, fish and meats before baking, grilling or frying in order to keep them moist and tender on the inside. You can also sauté vegetables in this oil for added flavor and nutrients.

Keep in mind when choosing olive oil you may want to select unprocessed varieties of extra virgin as they retain more of the vitamins and nutrients that aid in wound healing. Another great option is fresh-pressed olive oil, which is generally the most abundant in natural, healthy ingredients but also holds onto its rich flavor.