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Burns can be caused externally by heat, electricity, chemicals, or radiation. 43% of all burns happen in the home, most of these in the kitchen due to flame, scalding injuries (like steam or hot coffee), or electrical devices (like ovens and irons). This post does not address burns that result from chemicals or radiation, but rather 1st and sometimes 2nd degree burns that occur especially at home and do not require a trip to the hospital. The #1 best home remedy for burns is in most home kitchens, is food-sourced, and it’s fascinating to see why and how it works!
Of added relevance to my blog, Eat Beautiful, is the fact that this food-source of healing is often not made beautifully. Below I’ll discuss how to source this pantry staple to ensure its health benefits, both externally and internally.
First degree burns affect only the outermost layer of skin. Redness and peeling are symptoms of a first degree burn. Sunburns are classified as first degree.
Second degree burns also affect the skin’s outer layer, but the damage is more severe. Some second degree burns extend from the outer skin (or epidurmis) to the inner skin (the inner dermis).
Third degree burns should always be treated as an emergency and treated by a professional. They result in dry, blackened skin and swelling. In these cases, both the epidurmis and inner dermis sustain serious damage. Burns of this nature can also affect muscles and internal organs.
The last few months we’ve been busy packing, moving from the house we’ve lived in for 14 years. I’ve burned myself three times in the last month, on the wood stove twice, and on the oven once. I chalk it up to being weary 😉 and all the cleaning we’re doing (near the wood stove).
The burns haven’t been rush-to-Urgent-Care burns. Instead this post and these burns pertain to how to care for 1st and 2nd degree burns, the kind you get when you put your hand on something hot without thinking about it.
I realized I should share with you the remedy I use! Because it’s GREAT. And everyone should know about it.
This remedy is in most whole food kitchens, it’s fast to grab, and it works.
What is it? … Real Vanilla Extract
The best burn remedy for first and second degree burns is real vanilla extract.
Here’s how to apply it:
- Apply undiluted vanilla extract directly to the burn.
- Use a cloth, or pour a bit directly onto the burned skin, using a clean finger to dab it over the entire surface of the burned area.
Why vanilla works on burns
Vanilla extract soothes burns, easing any pain, because the evaporation of the alcohol cools the burn. While cooling a burn sounds like a comfort measure, in fact it is also a remedy for the distress that’s been caused to the skin!
What is a burn? A burn occurs when layers of the skin are destroyed by an extreme source of heat or cold. Therefore treatment includes preventing the damage from becoming more severe. Instantly cooling the area actually helps to reduce the injury.
But what’s even more fascinating is that the kind of alcohol used to make vanilla extract isn’t a burn remedy on its own! It’s the vanilla itself PLUS the alcohol that is key.
Why? Vanilla has been shown to have amazing healing properties. Vanilla is used as a cancer treatment due to a compound found within it, called vanillin. Vanillin works by reducing the number of mutated cells and oxidative stress. Vanilla extract also contains vanillic acid which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Because vanilla is anti-bacterial, it helps to prevent infection, which can be a concern with burns.
Quality: which vanilla to buy
What’s surprising is how seldom vanilla extract is actually derived from vanilla beans!
The demand for vanilla exceeds its production by 10 to 1. So the chemical industry long ago found a way to make vanillin from lignin, a biopolymer found in plentiful wood pulp. (source) However, strong acids are used in this process, making it so damaging to the environment that it’s largely been replaced by a more expensive petrochemical process. This is the vanilla that the majority of the world consumes.
We discovered a company called Singing Dog Vanilla about 8 years ago, as we were opening our Paleo cafe and creating our very first Vanilla Frozen Yogurt, made from kefir. We wanted the best vanilla and at that time began discovering how many “vanilla extracts” masquerade as the real thing but are not!
Singing Dog Vanilla is a non-GMO, sustainable, fair-trade company that shares its profits with its vanilla farmers in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. I buy their vanilla because I know I’m getting the best in flavor, healing properties, and integrity.
Yes, it makes sense: Vanilla extract can also be used on your sunburn! (source)