As someone who is prone to bruises and injuries, I am constantly stocking up on Advil and Tylenol from the local drug store as well as iron and vitamin K supplements. Although these medications greatly reduce the amount of time my injuries need to heal, I am still cursed with limbs that bruise easily and blood that does not clot quickly enough. Since arriving at school, I find myself constantly searching the web for tips or treatments that will help speed up my healing process. While browsing NPR the other day, a report about black bears and their ability to heal, even while hibernating, caught my attention and I immediately opened the link.
According to this article, bears have the incredible ability to reduce the healing time of their injuries while they sleep. This study, conducted by scientists from the Universities of Minnesota, Wyoming and Minnesota, tracked 1,000 black bears over 25 years and monitored their health and behavior. While exploring findings, these scientists concluded that most injuries inflicted on the bears by hunters or bear fights occurred at the start of winter and were almost completely gone when spring arrived, after their hibernation period. Not only were the wounds the bears acquired healed surprisingly fast, there were no infections or barely any scarring among any of them. In order to confirm their remarkable healing abilities, scientists tracked the healing of small wounds on fourteen of their radio-collared black bears. Ultimately, the results concluded that between “November and March the wounds healed with minimal evidence of scarring…no signs of infection, the layers of damaged skin regrew and many of the bears even grew hair…at the site of their injuries” (BBC). Although scientists have proof that bears heal quickly, the mechanisms behind their healing abilities are unknown. Unlike humans, a bear’s body temperature drops as much of 13 degrees F during hibernation and such an extreme drop would hinder a human’s healing ability while it would dramatically increase a bear’s.
If scientists identify the incredible system behind a bears healing process, this would be a remarkable discovery for human research. With this knowledge, scientists believe they could improve “slow-healing wounds in elderly, malnourished or diabetic patients” and ultimately improve the appearance of skin imperfections and past scars. The possibility of literally waking up with better skin is incredibly appealing to most people, and if scientists are able to translate their findings from bear skin to human skin, I believe it would be a major advancement in the scientific field, particularly cosmetic field. I find it fascinating that scientists could potentially discover how to reduce healing times and increase the skin’s appearance after studying a group of radio-collared black bears in the mountains of Minnesota. What do you think? Do you think bears are the answer to solving skin imperfections? Do you approve of scientists testing and tracking the healing rates of black bears?