Sugar treatment could sweeten healing process

The use of sugar to heal wounds by a University of Wolverhampton lecturer has been hailed as “revolutionary” by a patient who is receiving the treatment at a Birmingham hospital. 


Moses Murandu

Moses Murandu

Senior Lecturer Moses Murandu grew up in Zimbabwe and his father used granulated sugar to heal wounds and reduce pain when he was a child. But when he moved to the UK, he realised that sugar was not used for this purpose here.

Now he is carrying out a research trial into the effectiveness of sugar when used on hospital patients with wounds such as bed sores, leg ulcers and even amputations.

One of the patients receiving treatment as part of the research is Alan Bayliss, an inpatient at Moseley Hall Hospital’s amputee rehabilitation ward, part of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust.

He underwent an above the knee amputation on his right leg due to an ulcer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham in January 2013, and as part of the surgery a vein was removed from his left leg.

For his post-surgery rehabilitation, Mr Bayliss was moved to Moseley Hall Hospital where standard dressings were used but the left leg cavity wound was not healing effectively. Nurses contacted Moses and Mr Bayliss, from Northfield in Birmingham, began receiving the sugar treatment.

Within two weeks, the wound had drastically reduced in size and is healing well.

Mr Bayliss, a 62-year-old electrical engineer, says: “It has been revolutionary. The actual wound was very deep – it was almost as big as my finger.

“When Moses first did the dressing he almost used the whole pot of sugar, but two weeks later he only needed to use 4 or 5 teaspoons.

“I am very pleased indeed. I feel that it has speeded up my recovery a lot, and it has been a positive step forward. I was a little sceptical at first but once I saw the sugar in operation and how much it was drawing the wound out, I was impressed.”

Staff Nurse Jonathan Janneman said: “One of the main benefits has been the morale of the patient. He could see the cavity in his leg as well as having been unwell and through operations. But the sugar has given something to hold on to. It is amazing that something as simple as sugar has given him a morale boost – the psychological benefit is up there with the physical benefits. The patient is ecstatic with the results.”

Moses Murandu is halfway through a randomised control trial at three West Midlands hospitals – Moseley Hall, the QE Hospital and Manor Hospital in Walsall – into the effects of the sugar treatment. So far 35 patients have successfully received the treatment, with no adverse effects reported.

The treatment works because bacteria need water to grow, so applying sugar to a wound draws the water away and starves the bacteria of water. This prevents the bacteria from multiplying and they die.

Moses, a Senior Lecturer in Adult Nursing at the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Health and Wellbeing, said: “It is very pleasing for me to see the results, especially now that the nurses are able to take over and administer the treatment after I have made the initial assessment, and also that the patients are experiencing the benefits.

“I believe in the sugar and the nurses and doctors who see the effects are beginning to believe in it too. I’d like to thank the University and the School of Health and Wellbeing for their support and also the patients for taking part.”

Moses Murandu studied Registered General Nursing in Lesotho and did midwifery in Cape Town, South Africa. He also worked in Atlanta, Georgia, before coming to the UK to work at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and undertook a Masters degree at Birmingham University, supported by Professor Colette Clifford. As well as lecturing at the University of Wolverhampton, he is currently studying for a doctorate at Birmingham supported by Dr Carol Dealey and Dr Tom Marshall.

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