Granulated sugar is being assessed as a treatment for wounds such as pressure ulcers in a trial at a hospital in Birmingham.
Zimbabwean Moses Murandu, a senior lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton, watched his father using sugar to speed up healing and manage pain when he was growing up. But when he left Zimbabwe for the UK, he discovered the practice was not carried out by medical professionals in this country.
He is now leading research to see if sugar can help patients in hospitals who have wounds. Alan Bayliss is one of the patients who has received sugar treatment during the trial.
In January this year his right leg was amputated above the knee at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham after he suffered from an ulcer. Surgeons also removed a vein from his left leg, leaving a cavity wound, which failed to heal well.
An inpatient at the amputee rehabilitation ward at Moseley Hall Hospital - part of Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust - the 62-year-old had been given normal dressings. But concerned nurses who saw the wound was not healing, asked to try the sugar treatment on him.
A fortnight after the sugar started to be applied, the patient’s wound was much smaller and was healing effectively.
Mr Bayliss, an electrical engineer from Northfield in Birmingham, described the treatment as “revolutionary”.
He said initially Mr Murandu had used a large amount of sugar for the dressing, although the amount needed reduced over the two-week period to around five teaspoons.
Mr Bayliss admitted that he had been unconvinced sugar would help him when he first learnt about the treatment. But he said he had been impressed by how much it had accelerated his recovery.
Staff Nurse Jonathan Janneman said the sugar treatment had raised the patient’s spirits and boosted his morale. He added: “The patient is ecstatic with the results.”