Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (OKG) Helps Heal Wounds and Bed Sores More Quickly

Nutrition is vital to all bodily processes, but during wound healing it is more important than ever to get the nutrients that provide the building blocks for tissue repair. Ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate, usually referred to as OKG, (thank goodness for acronyms!) is one of those nutrients.

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This ionic salt is made up of two amino acids: one molecule of ornithine and two molecules of alpha-ketoglutarate. These amino acids are non-essential, meaning ordinarily we don’t need to obtain them from food because the body can manufacture them from other nutrients. They have an anabolic effect on the body, meaning they stimulate tissue and muscle repair.

But you need optimal amounts during times of severe illness and trauma—amounts that your body probably would not be able to manufacture in adequate amounts. For these stressful times, OKG supplementation can make a huge difference in speeding up recovery.

Scientists don’t completely understand how OKG works in the body, but new research continues to reveal its powerful benefits. A recent French study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Aging, (Aug, 2009) found that OKG supplementation can help reduce heel pressure sores in under-nourished elderly patients.1

Pressure sores, commonly called bed sores, are areas of damaged skin caused by staying in one position for too long. They commonly form where your bones are close to your skin, such as your ankles, back, elbows, heels and hips. You are at risk if you are bedridden, use a wheelchair, or are unable to change your position. Pressure sores can cause serious infections, some of which are life-threatening. They can be a problem for people in nursing homes,2 especially for those who are not getting their nutritional needs met.

The French researchers did a double-blind placebo-controlled study with 160 patients over 60 years of age who had pretty serious heel pressure ulcers. One group received 1000 mg of OKG each day and the second group received a placebo each day for six weeks. Although the researchers commented that studying a group of elderly patients with various health complaints made the study a bit challenging, the OKG definitely made a significant difference in healing their pressure sores.1

OKG helps heal burn patients

Burn patients have significant nutritional needs for healing damaged tissue. Several studies have shown that OKG helps accelerate muscle and protein synthesis, which is crucial to the recovery from burns.

A 1998 randomized controlled trial including 54 burn patients with 20-50% total burn surface area were given a supplement of OKG (either 1000, 2000 or 3000 mg a day, or a soy protein mixture in addition to their diet. This was the first study to assess the benefit of giving OKG orally instead of intravenously in critically ill patients. The study found that 3000 mg of OKG significantly improved wound healing. 3

A more recent study done in France on 47 seriously burned patients in an army hospital were given either a soy protein mixture or 1000 mg. of OKG twice a day for three weeks. The OKG significantly shortened wound healing time in the patients, and the OKG was well tolerated.4

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  1. Meaume S, Kerihuel JC, Constans T, Teot L, Lerebours E, Kern J, Bourdel Marchasson I. Efficacy and safety of ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate in heel pressure ulcers in elderly patients: results of a randomized controlled trial. J Nutr Health Aging. 2009 Aug;13(7):623-30.
  2. Pressure Sores, Medline
  3. De Bandt JP, Coudray-Lucas C, Lioret N, Lim SK, Saizy R, Giboudeau J, Cynober L. A randomized controlled trial of the influence of the mode of enteral ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate administration in burn patients. J Nutr. 1998 Mar;128(3):563-9
  4. Coudray-Lucas C, Le Bever H, Cynober L, De Bandt JP, Carsin H, Ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate improves wound healing in severe burn patients: a prospective randomized double-blind trial versus isonitrogenous controls, Crit Care Med. 2000 Jun;28(6):1772-6.