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February 2015

Arginine, Zinc, Antioxidant Formula Shows Promise as Pressure Ulcer Treatment

A new study suggests that supplementation with arginine, zinc, and antioxidants improves the healing of pressure ulcers.

A pressure (decubitus) ulcer, also known as a bedsore or pressure sore, is an area of skin that breaks down when an individual stays in one position for too long without shifting his/her weight. This often happens if an individual is bed ridden or confined to a wheelchair, even for a short period of time (such as after surgery or an injury). Constant pressure against the skin reduces the blood supply to that area, and the affected tissue eventually dies.

In a recent study, researchers randomly assigned 200 malnourished adults with pressure ulcers to receive a high-calorie, high-protein formula containing arginine, zinc, and antioxidants or an equal volume control formula for 8 weeks. The change in pressure ulcer area was evaluated as the main outcome measure.

The researchers found that supplementation with the arginine, zinc, and antioxidant formula resulted in significant reductions in pressure ulcers, with an average reduction of 60.9%, when compared to the control formula, which had an average reduction of 45.2%. Furthermore, patients who received the supplemented formula had an increased chance of experiencing at least a 40% reduction in pressure ulcer area by the end of the study.

The authors concluded that treating malnourished patients with an arginine, zinc, and antioxidant supplemented formula can improve pressure ulcer healing.

For information about arginine, zinc or antioxidants, please visit Natural Medicines’ Food, Herbs & Supplements Database.

For information about integrative therapies for pressure ulcers, please visit Natural Medicines’ Comparative Effectiveness Database.


  1. Cereda E, Klersy C, Serioli M, et al. A nutritional formula enriched with arginine, zinc, and antioxidants for the healing of pressure ulcers: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2015 Feb 3;162(3):167-74.

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