Pouring granulated sugar on wounds ‘can heal them faster than antibiotics’

Folk medicine from Africa may hold the key to treating wounds that defy modern medicine Sugar draws water from the wound into a dressing which accelerates the healing process

Too much sugar may be bad for the waistline, but it could help doctors heal the sick.
New research shows folk medicine from Africa may hold the key to treating wounds that defy modern medicine.
A study found granulated sugar poured directly into bed sores, leg ulcers and even amputations promotes healing when antibiotics and other treatments have failed.

The study is headed by Moses Murandu, a senior lecturer in adult nursing at Wolverhampton University, who grew up in Zimbabwe where his father used sugar to heal wounds and reduce pain when he was a child.
Sugar draws water from the wound into a dressing – bacteria needs water to survive – which allows accelerates the healing process, or kick starts it where progress has stalled.

When Mr Murandu moved to the UK he realised that sugar was not recognised as a traditional medicine that had something to offer.

One of the patients receiving treatment as part of the research is Alan Bayliss, from Birmingham, who was being treated at Moseley Hall Hospital’s amputee rehabilitation ward.
He underwent an above the knee amputation on his right leg due to an ulcer at the Queen Elizabeth (QE) 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 Mr Murandu and Mr Bayliss was given the sugar treatment and within two weeks the wound had drastically reduced in size.

West Midlands medic trials sugar remedy

Can ordinary sugar be used to heal wounds that haven’t responded to years of traditional treatment?

It’s an extraordinary idea, but one I’ve been tracking for five years now. And it all started with a man called Moses Murandu.
When I first met him, he was a nurse who believed he could treat leg ulcers using a traditional African treatment. Packing sugar into nasty ulcers and wounds.

Those that won’t heal are really unpleasant for people affected. They can start for all sorts of reasons, but once established they are really hard to cure and can last for years.
The ulcers become infected with bacteria. But because bacteria live in a thin, slimy film on the surface of the wound which is outside the body they aren’t affected by antibiotics.

Once infected, the skin and flesh break down further leading to more infection. Patients lose the ability to drive and walk and are in considerable pain. The wounds just keep growing.

Pain and odour

One of the most unpleasant effects is the smell these ulcers give off. One sufferer told me he had to keep his daughter’s dogs away from him because they’d smell his legs and go straight for them.
Moses, a senior lecturer in adult nursing at the University of Wolverhampton, is an extraordinary man.
As word of his treatment got out, more and more people would search him out. He would travel all over the country to help people in his spare time.

While the results of this ad hoc approach were great for those who tracked Moses down, it was clearly a better idea to try and get this approach sanctioned as a recognised NHS treatment.
The problem is a proper clinical trial is expensive and there’s no money in sugar. The very cheapness of the treatment actually counts against it when trying to prove it works because no one will put up the cash for a trial.

Clinical trial
Nevertheless, after several years and some limited pilot studies, Moses has now completed a clinical trial, while at the same time finishing his PhD studies at the University of Birmingham.
He is very confident that the results will be enough to convince the NHS that this treatment does work. He is publishing the study shortly.

In the meantime those patients he has treated are looking to set up a charity to help fund this work and to spread the word about the treatment.
Speaking to those who Moses has helped there’s no doubt they view his sugar treatment as little short of miraculous.

Del Ripley told me how once the wounds on his legs healed he asked his wife to get him his shoes so he could go outside. But after 13 years of ulcers and being unable to walk she’d given them all to charity.
Hopefully this new research will mean more people will be able to convince doctors and nurses to try this treatment and they too can go out and buy brand new shoes.

Wolverhampton sugar doctor hits sweet spot

When most of us suffer a cut or graze, a plaster and some antiseptic is usually the first thing we reach for.
But for University of Wolverhampton lecturer Dr Moses Murandu, his go-to treatment is something a little more surprising – but it’s soething most of us have in our kitchen cupboards.
Dr Murandu, a senior lecturer in adult nursing at the university’s School of Health, has now completed a clinical trial into the use of granulated sugar to treat wounds, earning his PhD in the process.
It is a treatment plan that is met with disbelief from patients and medical practitioners alike, he said, but is one his family has used since he was a child.
Growing up in Zimbabwe Dr Murandu’s father, Aron Majazi Munawa, often used cane sugar to treat their wounds.
“My father was a poor man and he was trying to use whatever resources he had – salt, sugar. Oh man, salt. When he was using sugar it was much less painful.”
Used on wet wounds including bed sores, ulcers and even amputations, the sugar draws the moisture away from the wound and helps clear it, and within hours Dr Murandu said ‘smelly’ wounds no longer had a bad odour.
Bacteria needs water to grow, and applying sugar to the wound draws the water away and starves the bacteria.
Dr Murandu, aged 49, studied nursing in Lesotho, and worked in America and Cape Town before moving to England in 1997, where he lives in Moseley with his wife and two children.
Discovering sugar was not used to treat wounds here, he set about trying to get a trial up and running as there was little scientific evidence proving its effectiveness as a treatment.
He believes in its potential use in the health system so much he has spent between £15,000 and £18,000 of his own money on the research, and was awarded the prestigious Fondation Le Lous Scientific Research Innovation Award and £25,000 in 2009.
Dr Murandu said: “All I want to do is get people to know about it, to use sugar to help people.
“I have learned from the English and they have learned from me. I want to work together to help these developing countries as well as here. Wounds are something that people don’t actually bother about – they talk about cancer and diabetes, hypertension, but decaying wounds are a big problem going unnoticed.”
Not only were the wounds often painful, but when not treated properly they began to smell, and could also affect people psychologically.
Treating and healing wounds improves their quality of life, Dr Murandu said.
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It took two years to get the approvals he needed from health regulators to run the trial, and he ‘kept on nagging them’ until they gave him the go-ahead.
The next step was to find a site for the trial and get ethics approval.
Dr Murandu said: “I went to Walsall, which is near the campus where I work, and they refused. They told me ‘that’s rubbish’. Sandwell told me again that was rubbish, and at New Cross it was the same story.”
He was put in touch with Dr Malcolm Simms, a vascular surgeon at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, who met with Dr Murandu and agreed to work with him.
Having no recorded evidence sugar would work in the way he claimed, Dr Murandu worked with a micro-biologist and tested three types of granulated sugar – cane, beet and demerara – in different strains of micro-organism to prove there was microbiological activity.
Once they had that proof it was ‘a starting point’.
After 400kg of sugar was donated to the trial, which started in 2009, Dr Murandu found a Staffordshire company which could reduce the quantities into smaller, more manageable pots.
Each one has its own unique serial number, so if a patient reacts to the treatment or anything goes wrong the sugar they used can be traced back to a particular batch and manufacturer.
It also has the added benefit of creating an audit trail, and ensured the sugar remained sterile.
Dr Murandu said dozens received the treatment: “They could not believe we were using sugar. Nothing fancy, just the sugar.”
And while many would think a sugar-based treatment would be a no-go for diabetics, Dr Murandu said it actually works best on people with the disease.
As diabetics often have poor circulation, when the sugar coating is put on the wound the body reacts by trying to increase vascularity in that area, improving circulation and the effectiveness of the treatment.
As well as being an effective way to treat wounds, it was also cheap – an important factor Dr Murandu knows will benefit those in poorer countries.
It is also a factor that means finding funders for the research has been difficult as there will be no patented, lucrative treatment at the end of it.
“There are many people out there suffering from these terrible pains and we can use the sugar – it doesn’t harm, they don’t need antibiotics.
“Africa does not have the amount of money the rest of the world has, it is a cheap way of managing that and it can be made easily available. We have a moral duty to help those poor people in Africa.”
Now that his research is completed – it is due to be published in the next few weeks he hopes to be able to develop and supply the treatment to third world countries, as well as sharing the method of treatment with others around the world.
“Name almost any country and someone has tried to contact me about it.
“In 2010 I had an email from Canada from a man, he had read my work on the internet and he went to the cupboard and applied sugar to an ulcer. It was nice and clean and healing and he wrote me an email to thank me for sharing it.
“I have so many phone calls and emails every day, there are many people out there who are suffering.”
One of the patients who received treatment as part of the research was Alan Bayliss, from Birmingham, who was being treated at Moseley Hall Hospital’s amputee rehabilitation ward.
He underwent an above the knee amputation on his right leg due to an ulcer at the Queen Elizabeth (QE) 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 Mr Murandu and Mr Bayliss was given the sugar treatment and within two weeks the wound had drastically reduced in size
Professor Linda Lang, Dean of the Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing, said: “Moses is truly inspirational and we are extremely proud of his achievements. His research is making a significant impact and a very real difference to patients’ health and wellbeing.
“His work is also transforming the way we think about healing wounds, and his ground-breaking work could one day become an everyday part of healthcare services.”

Lecturer takes a sweetener for pain relief to Africa

University of Wolverhampton Senior Lecturer in Adult Nursing, Dr Moses Murandu, travelled to Africa to present his research on sugar treatment at leading education and medical establishments in Zimbabwe and Lesotho.
Moses presented to high profile audiences made up of nurses, doctors, pharmacists and medical students as well as government health officials at the Ezekiel Guti University, the University of Zimbabwe Medical School, the Africa University and Mutare Provincial Hospital and Maluti Adventist College of Nursing.
Now working as part of the team in the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Moses has been carrying out research into the healing power of sugar on patients for over five years. In 2009, he was awarded the prestigious Fondation Le Lous Scientific Research Innovation Award and £25,000 to continue his pioneering work.
He said: “The sugar works because bacteria need water to grow, and applying sugar to a wound draws the water away. Because there is less water the body responds by getting the heart to beat faster and increase blood flow to the area. This brings white cells that fight infection and oxygen and nutrients that enhance cell regeneration.
“My research is focused on a clinical trial into the effectiveness of sugar when used on hospital patients with wounds such as bed sores, leg ulcers, non-healing surgical wounds and even amputations. During my visit I met with the Minister of Health in Lesotho and the Deputy Minister of Health in Zimbabwe, both of whom were keen to have the product developed and registered as a traditional remedy which can be available in pharmacies.”
During his time in Africa, Moses met with a woman who had refused to have her leg amputated due to the severity of an ulcer which had failed to be treated successfully. She had used sugar treatment following telephone advice from Moses to tend her wound at home and has made a full recovery.
Moses has committed to help the government patent and register sugar treatment in Zimbabwe and produce patient information to help them treat their own wounds at home.