The traditional African remedy is being trialled in British hospitals after a study led by a senior nurse raised in Zimbabwe.
As a child, Moses Murandu watched his father put crushed sugar cane on villagers’ wounds and grew up thinking it was a widely used treatment. When he moved to England he was surprised to find doctors did not use it.
His six-month study involved 21 patients at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham whose wounds had not responded to conventional treatment. It showed that pouring granulated sugar on to bed sores, leg ulcers or amputations before dressing can kill the bacteria that prevents healing and causes chronic pain.
Bacteria need water to survive but sugar draws water from the wound into the dressing.
Billions of pounds that is currently spent on medicines could be saved if the treatment is adopted by the NHS.