A lot of people think that only the elderly, sick, and feeble experience wounds that don’t heal. While it’s true that people who fit these categories are more likely to suffer from slow or non-healing wounds, anyone can develop a wound that won’t heal.
There are some illnesses that make wound healing difficult for the body. But in some cases, there's really no clear reason that a wound won't heal properly. Bacterial infections, poor nutrition, certain medications, poor circulation, and repeated trauma to the wound can all cause healing to slow down or stop altogether. But there’s an old folk remedy that my aunt told me about recently. It’s a very simple solution that has worked in every case she’s seen. Let me tell you about it.
My mom and all her siblings, including her sister Bell, grew up on the farmland of Texas and Oklahoma. It was a rough life. They all lived through the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression. My mom was the first child in her family to be born in a walled structure – a one room shack. The rest were born in tents.
So my mom’s family learned to use a lot of folk medicine just to survive. They couldn’t afford doctors. As a result, my aunt still loves to find simple ways to heal. And she caught my attention with this one.
The remedy came up when I was telling Aunt Bell about my wife’s newly broken finger. She got it caught in our dog’s collar and it snapped. The break was so bad, she had to have surgery to repair it. Aunt Bell asked me if she liked avocados. When I said, “yes,” Aunt Bell replied, “Now is the time to eat one a day. It’s amazing how they help places to heal. Our head nurse (at her assisted living home), Julie, had wrist surgery. Thirteen weeks later, it was not healing. I asked her to eat an avocado a day. That’s when it healed up and her husband teased her about eating so many.”
Naturally, I was curious about the story, so I asked her how she knew about avocados having that kind of healing power. She told me another story. She said, “When your mom was expecting your brother Randy, she had a sore on her shin bone that would not heal. The baby doctor gave her some salve to put on it. She read that it could cause birth defects. So she called the doctor. He said, ‘If you don’t want to use it the salve, eat an avocado a day until it heals.’ She did, and it healed.”
But she didn’t stop there. Her son called her and asked if the avocados would work for an employee of his that has a metabolic illness. He develops sores on his legs that won’t heal. She said there’s no reason not to try. So he did. Over the next week, the sores on his legs began to clear up. He was truly amazed at how fast the avocados worked on his stubborn leg sores.
These are fun anecdotal lessons about avocados, but is there any science behind what my aunt was telling me? Or were these just good stories?
Well, we’ve known about the health benefits of avocados for generations. And dermatologists have used avocado oil topically for years to help treat psoriasis, wrinkles, scleroderma, and stretch marks. So what my aunt was telling me was consistent with what we’ve seen clinically for a long time. But simply eating avocados and seeing such dramatic results was a bit surprising. Usually, it takes concentrated doses to see results from foods. Eating one avocado a day is hardly concentrated. So my research began....
The Science Behind Avocados and Healing
Since avocados grow in Mexico and California, I started with the California Avocado Commission. There you can find all the nutritional information about avocados, which is significant. Avocados have almost 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, including fiber, folate, vitamins K, B6, C, and E, pantothenic acid, potassium, niacin, and riboflavin.
Many of these are essential for wound healing. Vitamin K, for instance, is necessary for blood clotting, and potassium aids in the formation and transfer of cells. Vitamin B6 aids the immune system in the production of antibodies, which can help protect against wound infection, and vitamin C is a key factor in the body’s ability to form collagen, which is necessary for the development of scar tissue, skin and blood vessels.
Makes sense, but are there any studies showing how avocados really help the body heal? The answer is yes, but there aren’t many.
One study I found looked at the ability of both oral and topical use of avocado extract on rats. In the study, the researchers divided the rats into four groups of five each. All of the rats had some type of surgical wound and those receiving the avocado had either topical or oral treatment. Those rats that used the avocado extract, either orally or topically, experienced complete healing on average on day 14. In contrast, the controls took approximately 17 days to heal completely. What’s more, the wound healing in the rats using avocado was more complete with less scar tissue compared to the controls.
Another study looked at the topical use of avocado oil on wound healing for Wistar rats. Again, the rats receiving the avocado oil healed faster than the rats that did not use the oil. In this study, the researchers noticed the avocado oil caused the wounds to crust over within two days. By the fifth day, there was a significant difference in wound contraction on the rats using the oil. That means the wounds were getting smaller faster. The researchers observed that the oil also caused a significant reduction in the number of inflammatory cells in the scar tissue, which is another marker for faster healing.
So it appears that my aunt’s story about healing within a week is very possible.
Avocado’s Amazing Ability to Heal Your Organs
While the avocado’s ability to heal bones and skin is pretty amazing, consider this: When a food has the ability to heal, it typically isn’t localized – it’s usually systemic. In other words, when you eat avocados every day, it floods your entire body with the same healing nutrients that help heal bones and skin. So any internal wounds, injuries, breaks, or other damage will often see similar healing as the bones and skin.
Take high cholesterol levels, for example. I’ve told you in the past that cholesterol is a nutrient and when your blood levels are high, it’s usually because there is some type of damage in your cardiovascular system that needs repair. As the injury heals, cholesterol levels will usually drop. If the damage is chronic, then cholesterol can begin to form a plaque – and that’s where you see blocked blood vessels.
If avocados help heal wounds, then you would think they would help heal the damage in blood vessels. The sure sign that it’s working is a drop in cholesterol levels. But wait, isn’t the avocado full of fat – which should increase cholesterol levels? This is where we see theories prove out or fail.
In this case, eating avocados does not increase cholesterol levels. That means the “fat causes high cholesterol” theory is wrong. Instead, when you eat avocados, your cholesterol levels will drop, indicating the injuries the cholesterol was trying to heal are now healing and your body doesn’t need to produce as much cholesterol.
Imagine the Possibilities
Now that we see just how effective avocados are at helping the body heal, imagine the possibilities. Consider what causes so many of our illnesses. Take memory loss for example. This is often caused by some type of damage to the brain.
Avocados are rich in oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid that’s linked to improved cognition. A 2009 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that these types of acids can enhance memory. But the study didn’t stop there. It looked at how the avocado helped enhance memory. The researchers injected the rats with lidocaine in their brain. This blocked neurotransmitters from doing their job. But the avocado was able to “strengthen memory consolidation by recruiting afferent autonomic signals that travel to the forebrain.” In other words, the avocado helped the body work around the injury and restore the brain’s ability to function.
And if avocados can help heal the brain and the cardiovascular system, what about the eyes, the liver, and the kidneys? Could it heal any injuries to these organs? The answer is yes, there are studies showing avocados can help heal many injuries that occur in these organs and many others. For instance, they can help reverse metabolic issues, prevent joint damage and pain, and they can help prevent food poisoning. Not surprisingly, they are great for pregnant women, as my mom found out when she was pregnant.
So if you’re struggling with any health issue, start eating avocados. You might just find that you’re feeling better in just a few short days.
There’s one more thing you need to know about avocados, they’re almost always free of pesticides. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), avocados are one of the Clean 15 (the list of produce least likely to contain pesticide residue). Less than 1% of conventional avocados tested positive for pesticides. So if you can’t afford organically grown avocados, you can choose conventionally grown varieties without any major pesticide exposure