The Effects of “Kissing Better” An Injury Overstated but Saliva May Speed Healing

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Wednesday 16th August 2017

Long used as a tool by parents along with the “magic sponge”, kissing a graze or bruise is mostly used as a placebo treatment. However, researchers in Chile have found that saliva could actually contain properties that help speed up the healing process, and although the amount required is so much that it wouldn’t be hygienic nor possible practically, it could prove vital in the creation of treatments to speed up healing wounds.

The study in question, undertaken by medical researchers at the Universidad De Chile as well as Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile was a lab test involving artificially grown skin cells and fertilised chicken eggs in order to look at chemical reaction to the introduction of histatin-1, one particular protein found in saliva.

It’s not a practical test, and isn’t directly applicable to human saliva, human skin wounds or using the former on the latter, but it does demonstrate whether a specific ingredient in human saliva is found to have an effect on cell growth, and therefore if it is worth pursuing further research and development time towards. It may also explain why wounds in the mouth, which is naturally constantly in contact with saliva, heal quicker.

The results showed that histatin-1 was indeed biologically active, by slowing the growth of a yeast. Further, histatin-1 it increased the area of the wound that had healed. Interestingly, histatin-1 does not encourage the growth of more cells, but instead affect the way they behave. A further experiment found that histatin-1 was the active healing and cell movement agent in saliva; saliva that had histatin-1 removed did not encourage cell movement.

It is a complex study, focused more on the role of saliva in the human body than the healing effects it may or may not contain, but it has found some interesting results on why saliva works to heal wounds in the mouth, and whether histatin-1 could be used in the future for helping to heal wounds. Saliva reduces levels of harmful bacteria in the mouth but also contains a protein that encourages cells to move in ways that help wounds heal.

This won’t be completed immediately of course, given the nature of medical development, and this study should be seen as the beginning of a longer running research series rather than the end of the discussion.