How Nature Heals Wounds
( Originally Published 1936 )
Much of the confusion that exists among those not trained in medical science regarding various diseases, would be dispelled if they had an elementary understanding of the science of disease which is called pathology. With this knowledge it would be understood that disease is not an unnatural state, but a perfectly natural one. Disease processes follow natural laws in a perfectly orderly fashion. They are, indeed, in most cases, protective—the defensive reaction of the body to injury. In the sense that they remove super-annuated individuals from the scene, they are protective to the race.
Nothing better illustrates the defensive nature of disease than the process called inflammation. Inflammation is a set of activities that bodily cells perform as a result of injury. The injury may be one of many kinds—due to heat, burns; due to chemical destruction, as from caustic acids; due to force, as the fracture of a bone; or a cut. But commonest of all, perhaps, is infection, the entrance into the body of germs or bacteria.
Whatever the cause, there results a destruction of tissue, and the healthy cells and tissues around proceed to repair the damage. First there occurs a dilation of blood vessels in the vicinity—evident to the naked eye as an area of redness that is noticeable around all cuts or burns. From these dilated vessels there exudes into the wound a large number of white blood cells which engulf and destroy any bacteria present. The same cells, or similar cells, remove the debris of the destroyed tissues. From the surrounding tissues there come wandering tissue cells which in the course of time form a layer over the surface of the injured area.
Above this frequently clotted blood and matted masses of destroyed cells form the scab, under which the healthy granulations form with the scab as a protection.
Finally, when the granulations prepare the way, connective tissue cells creep out through and over the granulations and heal in the gap. If it is a skin wound, the skin cells from each side of the gap grow over the granulating surface and cover the wound with new healthy skin.
Nature has performed this miracle, and without her help no surgeon could be successful.