Q. You ran one of the first wound care centers in the country, and the company you founded has established over 200 wound care centers. What exactly is a wound care center?
A. A wound care center brings together all the expertise that has to do with healing wounds—surgery, infection control, plastic surgery, wound dressings, nursing care, psychological care, social care, and family care. It’s everything you need to heal a wound in one location.
Q. When should someone go to a wound care center?
A. If they have a wound that hasn’t healed after 6-8 weeks—or if they have a wound that keeps getting bigger.
Q. You say that you were able to heal 87% of wounds that other doctors called unhealable. What did you do that was so special?
A. Over the course of years, I paid close attention to every detail and every aspect of the clinical science of wound healing. Then I applied all of that knowledge to each patient on a case-by-case basis.
Q. What should someone do if they’re told that their wound can’t be healed?
A. They shouldn’t assume this is true. Most doctors aren’t specialists in wound care, so there’s a lot they don’t know about healing wounds. But our bodies are made to heal. And no healer ever knows for certain whether a wound will heal or not. If someone says unequivocally that your wound can’t or won’t heal, I’d look for another healer. I don’t say to patients, “This wound will or won’t heal.” What I say to people with large non-healing wounds is, “This is going to be difficult, and I’m going to do everything I know to help you heal this wound—because I don’t heal the wound, you do. This wound may heal, but there’s a chance that it won’t. But even if it doesn’t, the treatment may still save your life
Q. Suppose I’ve just gotten a bad bruise or burn or cut. What should I do in order to heal as fast as possible?
A. The #1 thing to do is listen to your body. Your body will tell you what it needs. If it tells you to lie down, then lie down. If your wound feels better when you elevate it, then elevate it. If your wound is dirty, clean it. If your wound is open, cover it. If something you’re doing is making the wound worse, stop doing it.
Q. In your book you tell people to not to take aspirin or ibuprofen until 24 hours after they’ve been wounded. Why is that?
A. A lot of the signals that tell your wound to start healing are triggered by your prostaglandin system, and ibuprofen and aspirin inhibit that process, so you’re inhibiting your own healing.
Q. In your book you emphasize the importance of blood flow. What is blood flow, and why is it so critical to healing?
A. Blood flow is the way that oxygen, nutrients, and other healing materials get to your wound. Without good blood flow, you can’t get enough of these materials to your wound. To heal, you need extra oxygen and nutrients, so you need to increase the blood flow.
Q. In your book, I was surprised to learn that massage can save people’s lives or limbs. Can you explain why massage is so powerful?
A. In people with non-healing wounds, massage slowly increases the blood flow to the wound and the capillary density in their limb, allowing them to heal.
Q. What should I put on a healing wound, and what shouldn’t I put on it?
A. Keep it simple. Put on water or saline and a clean dressing. You can also put on petroleum jelly, or aloe or zinc oxide ointment. Anything else, like hydrogen peroxide and a lot of antibiotic ointments and cleansers, can actually kill some of the tissues you’re trying to heal.
Q. Why are drinking lots of water and getting enough sleep so important to healing?
A. Water is critical to blood flow. The better hydrated you are, the more blood flow you can get to the wound, so you need to drink a lot of water to maximize blood flow. Most people are chronically dehydrated and need to drink more water. Sleep is very important because of its recuperative nature. If your body is telling you to sleep, then sleep.
Q. I was surprised to learn from your book that people heal more slowly at high altitudes. Can you explain why?
A. As you go higher and higher, the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere gets less and less. As a result, there’s less oxygen being delivered to your wound, and the cells won’t work as well.
Q. Your book has a chapter called “Why Wounds Are Good for You.” That certainly isn’t the way we usually think of wounds. Why are wounds good for us?
A. A wound is the disruption of the normal structure and function of a tissue. Any time you exercise, or stretch your body, or do something that hurts, you tell your body to increase its blood flow and to heal. A lot of the normal processes that we do to stay healthy are based on wounding ourselves and then healing.
Q. Is it true that you’ve discovered a new type of stem cell, one that will revolutionize healing as we know it? How do these wound-derived stem cells work?
A. My research team and I have been looking for the past ten years for stem cells inside wounds. We now have these stems cells, and they look very promising. These wound-derived stem cells are part of the natural healing process. If you catch these cells at just the right time, it appears that you can get them to differentiate into any kind of cell. It’s very hopeful that each of us will be able to make our own stem cells from our own healing process.
Q. How has the recent discovery of stem cells in the brain revolutionized psychological and emotional healing?
A. It gives us all hope. The fact that we’re constantly making new cells in our brains gives us the opportunity to make new connections, and actually rebuild the hardwiring of our brains, which is a part of healing from emotional and spiritual wounds.
Q. In your book you talk about psychological and relationship skins. What are those?
A. Our psychological skin has multiple layers, one layer for each significant relationship in our life—our parents, our siblings, our kids, our close friends, our co-workers and community members, and so on. Each layer can be wounded, and each wound can be healed. We also grow a relationship skin around each relationship we form. We grow this skin together with the person or group with whom we’re in relationship. Keeping this shared skin healthy requires energy from everyone in the relationship. Any person in that relationship can wound this skin, but that wound can only be healed together.
Q. What are some other recent innovations that help heal wounds of all types better and faster?
A. The use of hyperbaric oxygen—breathing oxygen at high pressure and in high concentrations—increases the oxygen delivery to a wound, enabling it to heal faster and kill infection better. The electrical stimulation of bones can also make wounds heal faster. And I pioneered the use of growth factors to make wounds heal faster. Growth factors are the biochemical messages the body uses to tell cells to move, divide, and start producing different healing proteins. Given in the proper doses at the proper times, growth factors change a cell’s healing response from 30-50% efficiency to maximum efficiency.
Q. You say that healing from psychological and spiritual wounds follows the same process as healing from physical wounds. Can you explain this?
A. In healing from my own spiritual and emotional wounds, I watched my own process and saw
tremendous similarities with physical healing. Our bodies have a very difficult time removing
infected foreign bodies. Usually you need surgery or some kind of intervention. Shame, abuse, and other trauma have the same effects—they’re foreign bodies that create emotional and spiritual infections. In order to heal, we need to remove these foreign bodies.
Q. Sometimes people get wounded and expect their wound to heal on its own, but it doesn’t. How much time should they give the wound to heal before they see a professional?
A. It depends on what kind of wound it is, but the rule of thumb is six weeks. If it hasn’t healed by then, it’s usually time to see a professional healer.
Q. Your book devotes a whole chapter to finding a good healer, whether it’s a doctor, an acupuncturist, a psychotherapist, or a massage therapist. What are the most important things to look for in a healer?
A. A healer of any type needs to listen to you, understand your story of how you got wounded and what happened afterward, and empathize with you.
Q. What questions should you ask a healer, to help you decide whether you can trust them?
A. Have you ever seen or treated anything like this before? How well did the treatment work?
Can you tell me about someone who had a similar wound? What happened? What can expect as I heal? How long will this take to heal?
Q. Why is it so important to tell a healer the story of how you got wounded?
A. You’re the one that’s healing the wound, not the healer. If the healer doesn’t understand your story, they can’t put together an ideal healing plan that’s right for you.
Q. When should someone walk out and find a different healer? What are the biggest red flags?
A. If you’re not being listened to, or if you’re being talked down to, or a healer acts like they know everything, I’d get up and leave.
Q. What should someone do if they’re seeing a healer but their wound keeps getting worse?
A. Talk about the obvious with the healer. Say, “From my point of view, this isn’t getting better. What do you think, and why?” If you get an answer that isn’t satisfactory, ask whether what you’re seeing is normal or okay—and why. If they can’t explain this adequately, then you need another healer.