January 28 2013

Dear Mark: Adding a Workout to an Active Life and Topical Wound Ointments

By Mark Sisson
123 Comments

BooBooWe’ve got a nice pair of questions for today’s Dear Mark. In the first, a young woman who’s perhaps the most intuitively active person I’ve ever heard about asks whether or not she should incorporate a dedicated, formal workout to her schedule of skiing, playing with dogs, hiking, manipulating heavy bags of dog food (in a physical sense, not an emotional sense), yoga, and rafting. You guys might be able to guess the gist of my response, but read on to find out what I say. In the second, a guy asks about topical ointments that promote wound healing. As a response, I discuss the standard over the counter ointments (antibiotic ointments, petroleum jelly-based ointments) as well as the more “natural” alternatives like honey, coconut oil, and garlic.

Let’s go.

Hi Mark,

I was wondering if playing replaces workouts. I am lucky to be able to play a lot (well it wasn’t lucky, I planned it this way). Winter and spring I am usually skiing 2-3 times a week. I camp out at the ski area/resort, ski sidecountry and backcountry. So I do a lot of skiing and hiking in my ski boots with a backpack to get to the steep and deep. I hike my dogs anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hrs a few or more days a week and daily in the summer. I manage a pet resort on the weekend. I usually work 3- 12 hour days on my feet playing with dogs, lifting dog food bags (5-60#), shoveling poo (glamourous!), etc.  In summer and fall I replace skiing with just as much backpacking (I will stay out in the mountains all of my days off) and a little rafting. Sometimes if I feel tight, I might do a little 15 minutes of yoga once or twice a week. I mostly take a none-day once a week when I do absolutely nothing except sit at my house and try to veg out. Well sort of a veg out; this is usually my dogs big walk day and I clean my house, stock wood, catch up on some reading, craft some moccasins, and make more adventure plans! I am 32, 5’3″ and a steady 107 lbs. I was a vegetarian for 12 years and thank goodness for all that is playful, started eating meat 2 years ago. I sleep very well, I might need more of it than others (10-12 hrs a night) but I don’t drink coffee (yuk!) to get up in the mornings. I last longer than all of my ski gang, and my hiking partners although I go to bed a lot earlier than them. Sometimes I eat as much as my 220 lb husband. I don’t think I need to add any workouts but, sometimes feel a bit lazy for not. And, I am afraid I might lose weight if I do. I feel no desire to be ‘ripped’, I just want to have the stamina and strength to ski forever! So, would playing replace work outs? Would it be beneficial to add a workout?

Cheers!

Krystal

Let me get this straight:

You ski 2-3 days a week for half the year. This involves carrying your skis by foot as you trudge up hills and through powder to reach the best spots.

For the other half the year, you backpack in the mountains and go river rafting.

Once or twice a week, you do yoga.

You go on hikes upwards of 2 hours long 2-3 times a week in spring, winter, and fall, and you hike every day in the summer.

Weekends, you work long hours playing with an entire resort full of the close descendants of quadrupedal carnivores. One popular game in dog society is tug-of-war, a full body ordeal. You also perform power cleans with sixty pound bags of kibble and do weighted shovel exercises.

On your rest days, you do chores, carry wood, and go on dog hikes.

You sleep 10-12 hours a night and occasionally eat more than your 220 pound husband without gaining weight.

Your fitness and strength levels appear to be superior to those of your peers.

And you think you might need to add a dedicated workout to maintain your current level of fitness? I’d say you’re doing better than most. I’d say you absolutely don’t need to include a formal workout. In fact, I’d say you shouldn’t include one, because it might actually be detrimental to your goals. Less is more, especially when you’re already so active.

You’re staying in shape the way humans have been built to stay in shape: by maintaining a steady flow of low-level activity punctuated with acute bouts of high intensity. Most importantly, you’re doing the most sustainable workout imaginable – one that you truly love doing. I wish I could maintain a schedule like that. Keep it up!

Hi Mark,

I was curious about your thoughts on first aid for minor cuts. If you are out running barefoot, or climbing trees, you’re bound to have some scratches! Would you recommend products like antibiotic ointments that you would rub into a cut to make it heal faster? Or do you know of something possibly more natural?

Thanks for all that you do!!

Rob

Antibiotic ointments like Neosporin are certainly good at preventing infection, they can certainly make cuts heal faster by preventing or stopping bacterial infection, and plenty of people will absolutely vouch for their efficacy, but they don’t always perform very well in clinical trials. In one recent study of different ointments’ influence on wound healing time, Aquaphor Healing Ointment, whose active ingredient is simple petroleum jelly, beat both Neosporin and Polypsorin (an antibiotic ointment containing fewer antibiotics than Neosporin). Other studies have had similar results, concluding that petroleum jelly was just as effective than the more expensive antibiotic ointments. Antibiotic ointments also bring the potential for skin irritation or allergic reactions, a problem more inert ointments generally do not have; another study found that Aquaphor Healing Ointment also caused less irritation than antibiotic ointments.

As to the gushing reports of Neosporin’s powers, I suspect a lot of it stems from lack of a proper control group. If all you ever put on your wounds is Neosporin and every wound has healed, you’ll assume that it “works,” even if it isn’t actually doing much. There’s also the chance that “dirty” wounds, like you might get out in the real world, are at a greater risk of infection and may benefit from topical antibiotics, whereas the controlled environments of clinical trials remove the risk of bacteria. There’s also evidence that antibiotic ointments are increasing the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bugs, including MRSA. That said, I find it likely that Neosporin works better than nothing at all, particularly if the wound is infected or at risk for infection (which you won’t know unless you test the wound).

Honey works well on wounds, acting as a broad-spectrum antibacterial agent and as a promoter of tissue healing. Thanks to many factors, including the antioxidant compounds, acidity, natural hydrogen peroxide content, osmotic effect, and as-yet unidentified compounds, it appears to stimulate tissue growth, reduce scar tissue formation, and increase epithelialization. The honey doesn’t even need to be raw as long as it’s actual, real honey (although unfiltered, raw honeys may have more bioactive compounds, also known as “impurities”). The only side effect of topical honey is, to my knowledge, incitement of pooh bears. If you ever cut yourself walking through the woods of Sussex, England, skip the honey – particularly if you see any bipedal piglets wearing pink horizontal striped singlets. Though normally plush and giggly, the pooh bear is a fearsome predator when in the throes of honey lust. Don’t let the baby T fool you.

Coconut oil is a potent antibacterial agent, mainly because of its medium chain triglyceride content (PDF). Since it’s MCTs we’re after, it shouldn’t matter much if you use refined or virgin coconut oil. That said, virgin coconut oil may have some extra bioactive compounds that affect the healing effect; sure enough, one study found that virgin coconut oil improves wound healing time partially due to “the cumulative effect of various biologically active minor components present in it” in addition to the MCTs.

Allantoin, a compound found in comfrey root, seems to speed up the healing process. This comfrey ointment gets very good reviews.

Garlic is another one, especially aged garlic extract (extract from garlic aged at least 20 months, giving it a higher phenolic content).

There’s also the timeless classic that spans species: wound licking. Most saliva has healing properties, whether canine, murine, or hominin. A dog’s saliva is antibacterial (against e. coli and s. canis), certain types of rat saliva promotes wound healing, human saliva contains healing-promoting histatin, and nerve growth factor, which stimulates wound healing, is produced in the saliva of most mammals. There are lots of other possible explanations for the beneficial effect of licking – the physical removal of dirt and debris from the wound, for one – but it’s pretty clear that we’re drawn to lick our wounds because it helps in some fashion.

I won’t go into an exhaustive list of all possible natural alternatives, because there are way too many. Some are bunk, some are legit. I’d even wager that most plant-based compounds have potential to help, even if an effect has yet to be shown in a clinical trial, simply because plants tend to contain bioactive compounds, oftentimes antimicrobial (to, you know, protect the plants from microbes). Antibiotic ointments and the aforementioned petroleum jelly ointments won’t win you any friends at the food co-op, but they also appear to be better than nothing.

Cleaning the wound with soap and water (or even just water), keeping it moist, and keeping it covered are probably more important to the healing process than what ointment you use.

Hope my answers helped! Thanks for reading and be sure to leave a comment with your own Dear Mark questions.

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123 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Adding a Workout to an Active Life and Topical Wound Ointments”

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    1. Krystal I love that on your day…

      “when I do absolutely nothing”

      You manage do take your dog on “the big walk, clean the house, stock wood, and even craft some moccsins…..you’re my hero!

        1. Yep, do nothing in my world is sitting on the couch, reading or watching TV.

  1. I confirm, by personal experience, honey is an excellent remedy on wounds: I used it on a severe burn on a finger some years ago.

    1. Recently applied garlic to a cold sore I felt coming in, and it didn’t even pop up (just peeled a little)

    2. Hey Alex (from another Alex). Honey works great in my experience too. Also there are several kinds of peppermint oils that have shown to be just as effective as typical hospital antiseptics. Coooool stuff haha

  2. The email about healing wounds is of particular interest to me because I cut my hand really seriously a month and a half ago and I still need to bandage it every day. Even though the cut closed up, the skin dries out really easily so I use Neosporin and cover it up. I don’t know if I could actually put honey on my wound, it just seems really weird. How would one use coconut oil? At room temp it is a solid and if I melt it on the stove then it could burn me. Do I just cut out a chunk of coconut oil and let my body temperature melt it slowly?

    1. If you want to try coconut oil, just run a small spoon over it, if solid, and pick up a few tiny crumbs. Use your finger to apply to your hand. It’s quite simple. 🙂

      1. You don’t need to slather it. A small amount works fine. Cover it with an ordinary band-aid. Cuts that are too big to cover with a band-aid, or that are fairly deep, might need stitches to heal properly.

    2. It melts rapidly at body temperature, so just scoop a little bit into your hand and rub it a little to melt it.

    3. In my house we use a lot of Johnson and Johnson brand First Aid Cream – because it does not contain antibiotics, does contain petroleum jelly, and makes my husband feel better that we are use something designed to treat wounds. (He prefers triple antibiotic cream, but does not seem to understand that it may contribute to antibiotic resistance. *sigh*) Now, for keeping healing wounds moist, my favorite thing is lanolin. I get mine at Walmart, in the baby department, in with bottles and nursing supplies. It’s used to treat cracked nipples in nursing mothers and is a bit costly, but the stuff works great! I got a sample with my breast pump, but didn’t use it. I found it later and tried it on when I got a friction burn on my elbow. (From going down a spiral slide with my daughter, she leaned a little, pushing my elbow against the side.) I could not keep a bandage on my elbow and the cut kept cracking and bleeding. I had to reapply it a few times during the day and at night before bed, but it worked like a charm. Now I use it often, but especially on scrapes on my hands. They seem to heal faster, with less scarring.

      1. Lanolin is the best thing ever for chapped lips and that sore chapped feeling on your nose when you have a cold.

      2. How are you? You look awfully nice tonight. Hmm? Maybe don’t wear a bra next time. No, I was talking to you. No, not her. I don’t know her name. What is it? Lanolin? La-Lanolin? Like sheep’s wool?

        1. Yes, like sheep’s wool. Lanolin is the wax like substance found on sheep’s wool. Fortunately, the stuff I buy has been super purified, because wool makes me itch.

    4. Wayne, after a month and a half, it might be time to try something else. The Neosporin might be counter-productive at this point. Try using Aquaphor instead. It will soak into the skin instead of sitting on top of it. Also, if the cut is closed, leave it uncovered. It needs to get air.

      Aquaphor is available at most drugstores and is fairly inexpensive. I keep a big jar of it on hand. It works better for dry, rough skin than anything else I’ve ever used.

    5. Move some of the coconut oil to a separatae container and use your fingers. It melts by itself and does work. I used it on athlete’s feet. Miracle ointment.

    6. Manuka honey works, big time. I once had, for several months, an ever widening patch of skin on my leg that was blistering for no reason that I could fathom (though at least one skin disease elsewhere has been diagnosed since then–psoriasis). The first thing I thought of was Neosporin, and I tried that for an extended period of time. It kept spreading and kept spreading (to at least an 8″ oval patch) and the blisters got incredibly large. About the time they started oozing and bleeding, I figured it was past time to try something different, and I tried opening a zillion capsules of vitamin 8, and applying that thick fluid before bandaging (needed lots of large bandages, and within a couple of hours the bandages were really wet and needing the process to be repeated). The vitamin E at least slowed the process down but didn’t fix things. I think after about two more weeks of seeing no appreciable improvement, I started looking on the internet and found a study done in England where doctors used manuka honey on hospitalized infants, curing some of their recalcitrant skin problems, not quickly, but eventually, and better than anything else they had tried. Manuka honey worked for me that way too; slow but sure and complete healing within about 2-3 weeks. It’s sticky, so obviously you want to apply a thick bandage after applying the honey. I think I applied it several times a day at first. I’d recommend manuka honey to anyone. I’d advise keeping a jar of it on hand for quick use in emergencies.

    7. wow. if you cut your hand so deep and wide that long ago and it hasn’t healed by now you should seriously see a doctor. And let the skin dry out so it can scab and then the scab can drop off. Antibacterials are great when you cut yourself to prevent initial infection. However, keeping broken skin moist skin actually creates an optimum environment for bacteria. I once kept a wound warm and moist for ages because I was too much of a sook to expose it to the elements. Seriously, things started eating my skin. My fingers were personal biology labs. It looked like I had drawn the moon’s surface on my fingers and it started to hurt like hell. Doctor made me forgo all ointments, toughen up and dry it out and it went away within a week. If it is infected though, check the labels and try something with iodine as an active ingredient (though it will stain your skin for a few days and will hurt like hell when you put it on)until you can see a doctor. It will dry things out. Natural oils and honey will lock in the moisture and make things worse.

      1. That is true, to a point. It has been my experienc that healing actually occurs faster, with less scarring, if the wound is just moist enough to allow it to be as flexible as normal skin. If the wound is somewhere that flexes quite a bit (like the friction burn on my elbow, mentioned above), allowing it to completely dry out is counter productive. I was re-opening the wound several times a day, just going about my daily activities.

    8. Actually, honey is well accepted as a wound treatment even by the general medical establishment. Wound centers use it all the time.

      You can now find commercial brands marketed specifically for treating wounds at a lot of drug stores these days, but you don’t need to pay the premium. Raw honey works just fine. If you can find manurka honey (most health food stores carry it) it has phenolic compounds in it that give it extra anti-microbial characteristics.

      As Mark described, clean the wound, then apply a small amount of honey and cover it with a bandaid or bandage.

      I like coconut oil as a lotion for dry skin or on a scar. Just massage a small amount into your skin a few times a day if you’re treating a scar or really dry skin. It will melt as you massage it in. You’ll find that it absorbs quickly and doesn’t feel greasy for long.

  3. Wow Krystal – I’m exhausted just reading your ‘play’! Regarding healing – I have an aloe vera plant in my kitchen ready for burns, it’s excellent.

  4. I mix coconut oil with a few drops of Tea Tree oil. Coconut oil melts at 76F so little heat is needed. When it cool just stir with your finger a little and it will melt enough for application.

  5. So, basically instead of putting Neosporin and bandaids on my blisters, I should just let my dog have a makeout session?

  6. Something I have found that is useful on e the wound heals is emu oil. Or if the cut/scrape is small (like a shaving nick) is put a little emu oil on it. It really covers the cut and keep you from scaring. It was recommended to me on a straight razor shaving website by a man who has used emu oil to help with scars from fire to his face and body. Not sure if there are any antibacterial properties witht his oil but it works well for scars or potential scars.

  7. I’ve suspected that neosporin works well because of the ointment, not because of the antibiotic. You might be able to use A & D ointment and get the same result. Coconut oil will melt on your skin. Just grab a chunk and rub with your hands. You’ll see. Cover honey on a wound with a bandaid. Works great. We have used this on backpack trips. Carrying honey is multi-use: tasty on food, good first aid treatment, excellent hot toddies in the evening.

    1. I have always contended that A&D Ointment cures anything, including cancer. However I have no data for that last part!

    2. When my youngest daughter got a severe diaper rash, A & D ointment didn’t touch it. We took her to the doctor, who wrote a prescription, that improved it, but did not get rid of it. He was going to prescribe something that would require use of cloth diapers. When I commented that the day care would “love” that, he consulted his wife (an RN) who was with a patient at the time. The patient suggested Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, which is some seriously awesome stuff! It cleared the rash up quickly. It’s got 16% zinc oxide, castor oil, mineral oil, paraffin, Peruvian Balsam [antiseptic] and petroleum jelly in it. (So apparently lots of good stuff.)

  8. Oil of oregano and tea tree oil are my go-to first-aid treatments. A friend of mine had a staph infection in a wound site (on his leg, from a catheter to introduce dye) that resisted 2 rounds of antibiotics. Oil of oregano cleared it up. It’s also safe for internal use.

  9. I am surprised nothing was specifically said about aloe plant gel.

  10. I make up a cream of olive oil, bees wax,honey and essential oils. Heat very slowly in water bath and pore into tub to cool. Use as needed.
    I have used this on every one in family and even the horses.

  11. Pooh bears are not quite as fearsome as the famed Australian Drop bear! They flock to the smell of tourists, especially American ones 🙂

  12. I caught parvo from a munchkin gym last summer. It’s harsh on adults — my immune system was weak for a while (a nightshade heavy meal would cause the joint and finger swelling to come back for a long time after the initial incapacitation). Well that weakness is why I think I developed a nail fungus & ringworm, and also developed something that looked mildly staph-ish on my leg over an abrasion.
    Besides direct application of tea tree oil to my nail, I also mixed coconut oil & TTO and applied that to the ringworm and toe fungus and it was taken care of quickly. I also drenched the staphy looking cut spot on my leg with honey for a couple days, using a bandage to try to keep it slathered on. I recovered fine, without seeing any need to see a physician.

    Also, I fostered an older weaker dog who was given unnecessary surgery while already undergoing heart worm treatment. The wound would not close — it was miserable — vet was zero help. I put fresh aloe vera (even though it’s not “supposed” to be put on deep wounds) and it was closed and healing within a day! It was like magic. An aloe vera plant deserves a place on everyone’s windowsill.

    1. Kudos to you for giving the dog a home, but you should definitely find another vet, preferably a holistic one.

    2. That’s a bummer on the vet. Usually vets are better than Docs but there are a few bad ones out there. Most of the vets I’ve met I usually wish could practice on the human animal as well.

  13. I almost always lick minor wounds and scrapes and they almost always heal up rapidly with no infection or complications.

    In fact recently, I had a hangnail injury near the tip of one of my fingers that I didnt lick because I didnt want to just lick my fingers randomly when I wasnt sure what they might have been exposed to, and I always forgot to lick it after I washed my hands. For like two weeks, the scrape wasn’t healing, and eventually got painful and swelled up a little which I assumed was a minor infection. I started making more of an effort to gently lick the wound in times when I could trust my hand to be clean and it all cleared up and healed within three days.

  14. I’m glad to see the comment regarding allergic reactions to antibiotic ointments. A lot of people aren’t aware of this.

    I use Neosporin occasionally with no problem, but my spouse is apparently allergic to it. A few years ago he was bitten by a spider while working in the garden. He put Neosporin on it. Within a couple of days he had a huge unsightly rash all over his arm. I was afraid it might be MRSA and rushed him to the ER. They weren’t worried about the bite but gave him an injection to counter the Neosporin and told him not to use it again.

      1. Sunscreen is something of a sacred cow amongst members of the medical profession, never mind the fact that it’s full of toxic chemicals.

        1. Totally. So is the meme that sun exposure causes skin cancer. I received this gem of advise from our former pediatrician for our infant daughter: NO sun exposure and if you do after a few months (gasp!), use sunscreen. But be sure to supplement Vit. D because she’s breastfed. I thought my head was going to explode. I have since found a family doc giving slightly saner advise.

          We now use sunscreen to avoid sunburns when we’re going to the beach. (We figure the risk is worth it then.) Otherwise, the kiddos do not get regularly slathered in weird chemicals.

      2. I believe I am also allergic to sunscreen. Also to bug repellent. I was on a trip in the Caribbean and had coated myself with both of them – you should have seen the reaction! Red bumps everywhere!

  15. For cuts/wounds:

    Raw Honey

    Turmeric

    Coconut Oil

    Cocoa Butter

    Shea Butter

    Any or all. That is all.

  16. CALENDULA! I have it everywhere – at home, in my travel bag and in my day pack – it’s the best wound care no one knows or talks about I think!

      1. We have it in balm form at our house and LOVE IT! Also, we use Arnica in gel form for bumps and bruises when there are no open wounds.

  17. Dog bites can be fatal for people that have had their spleen removed so if you are one of those people I would think twice about letting a do lick your wound. I wouldn’t do it anyway.

    I always apply hydrogen peroxide to wounds for a minute or so with a cotton ball to kill any bacteria. Then I cover with antibiotic cream (not that I think it does anything, its just a cover).

  18. Wow, fantastic “organic / functional fitness” routine Krystal engages in. I would encourage her to stick with the yoga or a similar stretching / stabilization routine, but other than that agree with Mark no need to do formal gym workouts (like I do). Hate to be a broken record, but again, there seems to be a bit of vegetarian bashing, I’m a vegetarian (not vegan), eat lots of eggs and drink protein shakes on top of following Mark’s advice on most everything else (sans the meat). People can’t believe how lean and ripped I am for my age. Granted, the imported New Zealand protein powder I use is not cheap.

    1. George – This is a Paleo blog. I’m not sure what you’re expecting. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t go to a vegetarian blog,gush about how awesome meat eating is, and then wonder why people aren’t more supportive.

      The other thing is that a few of your Peeps tend to harsh on us knuckle dragging meat-eaters. Sometimes that gets, well, a little old. 😉

      At any rate, I am glad that vegetarianism is working out for you. The people that I have seen it work out for come this side of meat eating mostly anyway. (They tend jettison beans/rice for eggs/protein powders/soy/tempeh).

      I’m also doing better than ever taking Mark’s advice, including doing a little flesh gnawing. Not so much for me when I was vegetarian. So the upshot is we’re all doing better, which is great. 🙂

      1. Point well taken Amy. I get flack from friends and family for not eating grains and meat, at least with you guys I don’t get criticized about not eating grains LOL. Glad you are doing well and I’m impressed with the great attitude everyone has on here and the very insightful info that Mark puts out.

        1. You would not believe the amount of crap I get for not eating grains from some people! I’ve read so many Paleo books and I am a scientist by training so I can counter the pro-grain arguments quite easily, but after awhile the bad vibing about not eating grains just comes down to some people being really irritated when other people don’t behave like a proper herd animal as far as their concerned. I have to say it gets old.

  19. Tamanu oil (a polynesian oil from the tamanu tree nut) is a great natural option too. It has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral properties, etc, all that good stuff. It absorbs easily and deeply into the skin, no oily reside after. It works great for acne and skin irritations, even razor burn and sensitivity. It’s part of my daily routing and I highly recommend it.

  20. I remember licking wounds as a kid (sucking on cuts and scrapes to stop the bleeding). I am not as accident prone now, except in the kitchen (and in those cases, licking doesn’t stem the blood flow!), so I haven’t done it in a long time. I am pretty sure I would even lick my knees after scraping them, and pick off the loose skin.

    Good to know that even heated honey could be helpful. I’m dealing with an infection on my toes right now, and while I will go to the doctor tomorrow, I will maybe try that or coconut oil after a good epsom salt & tea tree oil in hot water tonight. I think I mostly healed it with tea tree oil, but one toe is still bright red and swollen so I’m not taking any chances! I should at least find out what I’m dealing with :).

    I envy that woman’s life! Hard to stay as active when your passion is computers. I suppose if I was distributing them and carrying them around, that might help with the lifting heavy things.

    1. Hopefully your passion pays better. 🙂 I’m totally envious of the amount of play involved but I suspect that there’s maybe only part-time work involved. (Either that she should totally be eating more than her hubby!)

  21. Another ointment to try is paw paw ointment. I use it on my lips as a lip balm, but paw paw has healing factors in it and is a tropical remedy. Can vouch for those drop bears, I think they can sniff the diesel fumes of tourist buses, particularly up here in the Blue Mountains,
    Cheers

    1. Heather is on the money – paw paw ointment can be used on just about everything! Insect bites, wounds, dry skin, as a lip balm, skin rashes . . . Many an Australian household always has a tub of it on hand; I know I grew up with it.

      http://www.lucaspapaw.com.au/

  22. If you keep up the primal fitness you can probably outrun Pooh bear if necessary, he is rather tubby & the Ashdown forest is quite hilly.

    More seriously, raw milk has healing properties too – my daughter had immature tearducts which got infected really easily until she was about 4yo. I used to use breastmilk, after 1 antibiotic stopped working, which cleared the infection in less than 48hrs (usually within about 12hrs).

  23. Was always taught that licking of open wounds is bad because you introduce your oral bacteria into the wound…

    human bites are bad to have because of the oral bacteria.

    1. I think that’s someone ELSE’S oral bacteria, not your own… (Not suggesting you try biting yourself or anything… just… our bodies are already accommodated to our own bacteria (mostly).

  24. good advice to play addict women. just be sure when you are resting you are taking care of yourself, eating enough but not too much, and enjoying your down time. you will know when its time to incorporate more play into your life. just be sure that in your downtime you are maintaining healthy habits. i have a lot of ski friends who ski hard so they can “play hard” which includes drinking way too much beer and indulging in too much rich food. honestly its fine to feed yourself well after playing hard, but when it becomes the reason or an excuse to binge, thats when the problems set in. keep it healthy on both sides of active and not so active 🙂

  25. On my “do nothing days” I cobble boots for children without shoes. I HATE it when I’m so lazy!!! 🙂

    We use honey and Tropical Traditions coconut oil for everything. In fact, I had the start of Impetigo (sp?) on my face yesterday and it’s gone today. My husband used to be on a prescription for this. I love what we are learning!

    1. LOL on the lazy comment! I have learned so much since reading this blog, it’s amazing.

  26. Surprisingly, my local ER is on with Mark’s suggestion about cuts. When I recently stepped on a large piece of glass in my backyard (wedged about 1/4″ in), they simply cleaned it with soap and water, gave me a tetanus shot and told me to follow up with my doctor in 3 days. They explained that they no longer do antibiotics or antibiotic creams except in case of obvious infection (and after the 1 hour ER wait, it had stopped bleeding into my shoe, so I didn’t need stitches).

  27. I use any brand of daiper/nappy rash cream for small cuts and scratches. These are antiseptic rather than antibiotic, so not likely to provoke antibiotic resistance. I figure if its safe enough for babies, it is probably pretty harmless to me.

    I find that minor scratches like paper cuts to deeper grazes and bites just don’t get inflamed or septic and have time to heal without bandages or sticking plasters.

    Reading this discussion though, I am wondering if simple petroleum jelly would do the trick. Maybe its the barrier effect of any cream that’s what is important, not what is actually in the cream? Some experimentation required.

  28. Anyone use Bag Balm? My husband and I have been using it for many years on cuts and scrapes, dry skin, eczema, pimples, insect bites, dry cracked bleeding hands, and on the cat when she has flea bites. It works great! It is very soothing, unscented, antiseptic petroleum jelly that comes in a square green tin (with a cow and clover pictures on it). Bag Balm was made for sore teats, chapping, and inflammation on dairy cows. You can get it at Home Hardware or Lee Valley Tools in Canada.

    1. Bag Balm is great — I’ve been using it on cracked dry skin for years (it’s great for cracked heels/other parts of feet) — but I’d be interested in any perspective on whether it has antiseptic proposerties as well. I’m pretty sure Bag Balm has lanolin not just petroleum jelly — when I retrieve my container later tonight I’m going to check the ingredients. (Never used it on cuts, but how different is cracked dry skin from a cut, anyway??)

      1. I just looked it up – 8 hydroxyquinoline sulfate 0.3% [antiseptic], in a petrolatum [petroleum jelly], lanolin base. Taken straight from a picture of the box and after double checking that petrolatum was petroleum jelly.

  29. Weleda Calendula nappy cream is absolutely amazing – literally heals things overnight.

    Licking – as someone mentioned earlier, please be careful. If you have any sort if heart imperfection (particularly valve related) the bacteria in the human mouth can be fatal. That’s why you get antibiotic cover for any kind of dental work.

  30. surprised this hasn’t been totally hijacked by colloidal silver adherents yet.

  31. Iodine is one of the most effective remedies for wound care and although the US agencies have it in their sights, it’s still available now. We use it on everything from pimples to cat scratches to cuts; it promotes healing and sterilizes at the same time. Almost everyone is in a deficit state with iodine, due to bromates and chlorine contact here, so it can only benefit your overall health.

    1. {Grin} Just be nekkid when using it! It stains EVERYthing it gets close to!

      1. Ha we still have mercurochrome in Australia. Talk about stains. It looks like you’re still bleeding. I found it such a novelty as a kid. Was known as monkey’s blood in the US. They banned it in America for fear of mercury poisoning (seriously, how much were people using that they were worried about getting mercury poisoning? One bottle per cut per day?). Works everytime, particularly on cuts that have gone septic, and no antibiotics.

    2. Glad to see someone else mention iodine. Stings like hell on an open wound but clears everything up. Iodine, lavender oil and manuka honey are my go-to’s.

  32. Monolaurin is an extract from coconut oil highly regarded for its anti-bacterial/viral/fungal properties – and recommended from a primal blogger, Chris Kresser for candida. You can: 1.) make the pure non-capsulateded product into a paste or 2.) I use a moisturizing cream called Epi-Shield that is basically vegetable-based petroleum jelly with monolaurin and a chelator to boost activity against gram – microbes (monolaurin typically only active against gram + like staph/strep, etc.

    In full disclosure, I am the Director of Health Education for a monolaurin company.

  33. Comfrey is great for healing cuts AND trauma. I destroyed my knees and was suffering with very painful, swollen knees. One of my friends suggested comfrey and another suggested castor oil packs. So I decided if both are good, both together = even better. I got some fresh comfrey leaves and blended them in the blender with castor oil and a little water to a paste. Applied the paste to a cloth then placed the whole mess on my knees (paste against the skin). The pain relief is within minutes. I would put plastic wrap over it then lightly wrap with a bandage and sleep with it. Really helped my knees. After I had surgery to remove the crushed bits of cartilage I was sent home with oxycodone for pain. Horrible stuff. As soon as I could take the surgical dressing off I started back with my comfrey castor oil poultices and had much better pain and swelling relief from that instead of the drugs. The incisions also closed nicely.
    Fresh comfrey leaves are prickly with little hairs that kind of irritate, even after blending. I might try shaving them or run them over open flame to see if that gets rid of the hairs.

  34. I’m a garden variety hippie, raised by a botanist. I tried conventional remedies for a few years, but as the kids grew went back to the methods I grew up with. Soap and hot water, followed by honey and bandage. Yarrow in a pinch. Coconut oil is great for minor skin irritation. But for my kids’ eczema, nothing beats a beeswax ointment with calendula and comfrey. :)If you actually need antibiotics for it, you probably also need stitches.

  35. A few years ago, my cat scratched me and I immediately tried neosporin. The wound swelled, blistered and became infected. After seeing the doctor and my chiro, I slathered on coconut oil, covered it and within a day, the redness and swelling was gone. That’s all I use on cuts anymore and it always works.
    For bumps and bruises, I used calendula and arnica.

  36. We love Manuka honey for scrapes and cuts. It’s honey made from bees that have feasted on the tea tree plant. We use coconut oil to remove the adhesive of the bandage. Works like a charm for ouchless removal. I’ve also used both in combination to relieve dry, cracked itchy winter toes. Amazing stuff. Why would you use chemicals and petrol products?

  37. I have always wondered why someone doesn’t make a non-petroleum based antibiotic ointment for the hippy crowd. Say in a base of pharmaceutical lanolin? I’d buy it. I’d also buy a non-petroleum version of Tiger Balm.

  38. I used to make a moisturizer with aloe, vitamin E oil, and a couple drops of lime essential oil (for the nice smell).

    Now, I mix up MCT Oil, coconut oil and a drop of vanilla extract for my lip balm (it doesn’t stick around, but it tastes great and works well. Maybe someday I’ll add some beeswax.)

    For my body and face moisturizer, I mix MCT oil and coconut oil and vitamin E oil. Yes, it’s oily: mornings, I slather it on (esp. face, neck, and chest — I’m an old lady), then brush my teeth and hair, then use a towel to wipe off the excess oil. Saw my mom recently (after a couple years) and she was amazed at how wonderful my skin looked. After a shower, I also use it lightly on legs and arms; it is absorbed quickly enough so I can get dressed without getting my clothes oily.

  39. Oh, I also very often get ‘under the fingernail’ infections after gardening. (I think my immune system doesn’t like the soil-bugs here in the South!)

    So, when I garden, I wear double surgical gloves, and when I come inside, I wash my hands and then use alcohol to carefully clean around and under my nails; then use antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. (The doctor, when the infection hits, “makes” me take antibiotics AND an antifungal. {shudder} And I do because it’s been a bad — and “topically unreachable” — infection!)

    Obviously, I’m still trying to recover my health (and immune system) after decades on the SAD. But, since I’ve done the alcohol and antibiotic creams, I haven’t had any bad infections. (Could also be my blood sugar is lower.)

    (And, now, mostly, I avoid gardening. {sigh})

  40. Tea tree oil is harmful to dogs so please dont use tea tree oil + dig licking to treat cuts!

  41. Bentonite Clay. I have used this on 2 bad wounds including a white tail spider bite with necrosis, and a bad infection setting in on a deep gash to an elbow (family members). Many, many more beneficial applications. Worth checking out.

  42. Has anyone else noticed since going primal that their cuts heal really fast!

    I recently cut my thumb quite deeply, within less than a minute it had stopped, I put a plaster on just to minimise risk of infection but in regards to bleeding nothing!

    I’ve also started eating a lot more saturated fat as well over the last 6 months predominantly from grass fed butter, at least 50+g a day so maybe that is one of the reasons as well!

  43. Lavender essential oil (theurapeutic grade like Doterra) works amazingly for cuts/scrapes/burns. Apply to bandage and then over wound. It can also be mixed with coconut oil.

  44. Coconut oil:
    Best all-around treatment for anything.
    Cleared up my dry scalp in one application.

  45. I recommend Propolis for cuts and inflammation – that’s homeopathic and produced by bees. It’s antibiotic, antiviral and antimicotic – I just love the stuff. But since I’m new to the whole stuff, I’m not certain if it’s really primal – but I would think so.

  46. You have to make sure that the dog donating the saliva isn’t rabid though.

  47. I recently discovered argan oil, and I’ve been amazed–it cleared up a patch of eczema I’ve had on my face for over a year. The steroid cream the derm prescribed did nothing for it. It’s awesome just as a general moisturizer for face and body, too!

  48. We also use Calendula in lotion form. Used it to help heal a scar (and stop itch) after surgery.

  49. Aquaphor is incredible! It heals wounds quickly and prevents scarring if you apply it immediately after the wound and cover it. Works every time.

  50. The nitrites in saliva are also anti-bacterial. The level of nitrites in saliva is a hundred times higher than the blood level. For small cuts, my best treatment is my pit bull. Her licks perform 2 functions: debridement and disinfection.

  51. We get black salve from a trusted source and use it for nearly anything topical ranging from cuts, scrapes…my son just had a wart on his thumb…gone in 3 days. It goes on the dog when she gets nicked up out in the woods. We use colloidal silver but haven’t done the topical gel version, only liquid for eye irritation etc.

  52. Krystal, if you’re reading this, you’re a champion. That’s an excellent mix of activity.
    I don’t put much faith in over the counter ointments for the most part. I think Polysporin and After-Bite have helped me a bit but I stopped using them a few years or so ago and only used them regularly when I was a kid. I contracted a nasty case of athlete’s foot in both feet from wearing used boots while camping for four weeks in teen rehab (that was a little over four years ago – my feet have been feeling a little itchy or practically rotting slightly regularly since, though they’ve improved a bit lately. Maybe that’s because I’ve spent most of my time living outside (or in an unheated, somewhat run-down shelter)and often getting cold feet since mid-December. I spend most of my time wearing boots and the skin on my feet gets moist from sweat and snow – a few times lately I’ve taken my boots and socks off after a long time and my foot skin has looked like puffy white elephant skin so I’ve been managing with a little less warm gear and sleeping barefoot to let my skin dry out. I think the low temperature might inhibit fungal growth. I tried some anti-fungal cream and it reduced the symptoms but didn’t cure the infection. I tried honey and it worked a bit but I didn’t stick with it since I didn’t want to waste delectable honey on my feet. The best remedy I’ve tried was peeing on my feet in the shower. It just takes a rinsing over the course of a couple weeks and athlete’s foot is almost eradicated and mostly prevented for a while after.
    The anti-septic I’ve found to be best so far is hydrogen peroxide. Nothing like a good HO burn on an infected wound. I’ve also used it as mouthwash, both watered down and at the regular dilution. But, overall, I don’t resort to any sort of anti-septic or ointment to heal.. I just let my body do what it does! And I’ve gotten tons of minor wounds from my activities over the years. Animals don’t go to the pharmacy when they get a little scratch.

  53. While I’m no expert I think smothering an initial cut with oil, any kind of healthy oil, is a key step. What petroleum jelly does is smother any harmful bacteria deposited when the cut was created. It also moisturizers and as someone mentioned that is the ideal state if a cut to heal. I have been making my own lotion lately, with olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter and beeswax (all organic) and it works great on healing any scrapes and scratches I pick up, including cat scratches that I get a lot of. I have not had to try it on any deep major cuts however.

  54. I’m surprised urine didn’t make the list of all natural antibiotic ointments!

    1. Nothing I’ve found works better. Sometimes you just need some of that
      “same organic matter as everything else” food.
      Hence my breakfast: bee pollen, at least part of the humbly cure for the mumbly, stumbily infrastructural discomforts that come from a fermented food binge.

  55. Mark,

    I have read alot about how we should be sprinting once every 7-10 days. In my old pre-primal days, I would ride the elliptical everyday until the wheels would fall off 6 days a week, which is not ideal at all.

    I just started playing basketball again and I play about 3 times a week, full-court, for at least 2 hours because I love the game (Play). I also do full-body workouts for about 2-3 hours per week. Do you have any tips that could help me maximize my primal fitness efforts? I feel like the up and down of full court basketball for 6+ hours a week could possibly result in chronic cardio. Any helpful hints?

  56. What exactly is the mechanism by which using an antibiotic on your finger increases resistance among the population? So if I have nasties in my finger and I kill them, then unrelated nasties will not be susceptible to my killing method? Unless I misunderstand, it sounds like a stretch.
    What makes bacteria susceptible is an enzyme that metabolizes the antibiotic in an unhealthful manner. Eventually, bacteria that do not possess that enzyme become more prevalent and the antibiotic does not work on them. But nothing has changed. There always was a resistant population and a non-resistant population.

  57. This is a great article. I’ve been using soap and water to clean wounds and a little Neosporin. I have a cut on my hand that is impossible to keep the cream on and I didn’t want to apply too much Neosporin. Now I can just apply aquaphor. Kids love that we don’t have to clean out minor cut with alcohol or hydrogen perioxide.

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  59. Coconut Oil is fantastic for healing wounds. But I find Active Manuka Honey to be the absolute best for treating any wounds for humans and animals!

  60. I know this is an old post but wanted to share my story.

    18 month old daughter had conjunctivitis which spread to her ear without us noticing (up in the helix must have been dry and cracked). Spots then spread across her face and chest – impetigo!!!
    Went to the docter who prescribed eye drop antibiotics (cloramphenicol) and oral antibiotics (flucloxacillin) (sp?) i showed distress at using antibiotics on a child so young and asked about probiotics to belp the gut after the coming anihilation. I was laughed at.
    I went home and researched alternatives.

    I had antibiotics with a shelf life of 7 days and a 5 day course was prescribed … Two days to try something.

    Twice a day tea tree baths and 4 times a day application of raw honey to the eye and spots sround the eyes and to the other spots i applied a tea of 1 part raw apple cider vinegar to 2 parts raw honey.

    Wow, within 24 hours her ear and eye were clearing and spots were visibly clearing … However there were new spots as she was spreading them without meaning to. I kept going… By day 5 no new spots were coming and everything was healing nicely. None of the spots spread into a patch of impetigo which i think is pretty impressive!!!

    One very happy mummy!