Why ‘Licking Your Wounds’ Works

Posted on July 23, 2008  Comments (3)

Why ‘Licking Your Wounds’ Actually Works

scientists found that histatin, a small protein in saliva previously only believed to kill bacteria was responsible for the healing.

To come to this conclusion, the researchers used epithelial cells that line the inner cheek, and cultured in dishes until the surfaces were completely covered with cells. Then they made an artificial wound in the cell layer in each dish, by scratching a small piece of the cells away.

In one dish, cells were bathed in an isotonic fluid without any additions. In the other dish, cells were bathed in human saliva. After 16 hours the scientists noticed that the saliva treated “wound” was almost completely closed. In the dish with the untreated “wound,” a substantial part of the “wound” was still open. This proved that human saliva contains a factor which accelerates wound closure of oral cells.

Because saliva is a complex liquid with many components, the next step was to identify which component was responsible for wound healing. Using various techniques the researchers split the saliva into its individual components, tested each in their wound model, and finally determined that histatin was responsible.

3 Responses to “Why ‘Licking Your Wounds’ Works”

  1. Curious Cat Science Blog » CDC: Reduce Salt in Your Diet
    March 29th, 2009 @ 9:49 am

    “The current daily percentage value for sodium in the nutrition facts panel of packaged foods is based on a previous federal guideline of 2,400 mg/day and is likely to mislead the majority of consumers, for whom the 1,500 mg/day limit is applicable..”

  2. Stewabis
    June 1st, 2009 @ 2:13 am

    makes perfect sense. the mouth is the fastest healing area of the body.

  3. How Lysozyme Protein in Our Tear-Drops Kill Bacteria » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    January 24th, 2012 @ 9:58 am

    “A disease-fighting protein in our teardrops has been tethered to a tiny transistor, enabling UC Irvine scientists to discover exactly how it destroys dangerous bacteria…”

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