One of the most common reasons Americans visit the emergency room is to have a laceration, a deep cut or tear in the skin, evaluated and treated. Indeed, cuts account for approximately 8% of all ER visits; this equates to 9 million lacerations treated annually in the United States.
A bleeding wound can be particularly distressing for individuals who are unable to control it at home by applying pressure or bandaging. This is complicated further by the fact that millions of Americans are taking blood thinners to prevent or treat a blood clot. These blood thinning effects are not easily reversed, and patients who appear to have sustained an innocuous injury may require intensive care in the emergency room.
It’s unsurprising that my patients attempted a variety of home remedies to control bleeding before seeking treatment in the emergency room. One of the most intriguing ones I’ve seen is coffee grounds packed into a bleeding wound.
The patient was unable to articulate why he believed it worked, other than that he had heard anecdotally from family members that he should give it a try. And, indeed, by the time I saw him in the emergency room, the bleeding had ceased. There are few scientific studies or clinical trials examining the efficacy of using coffee grounds to control bleeding. In comparison to other medical myths and home remedies, I could not find a significant cultural or historical justification for its use, but it does appear to be a local practise in parts of Southeast Asia to use coffee grounds for wound healing.
Additionally, many individuals swear by apple cider vinegar for weight loss. Is it truly effective?
Therefore, why would coffee grounds aid in the control of bleeding? Caffeine is a well-known vasoconstrictor, meaning it has the ability to decrease blood flow. To control bleeding in a wound, we inject the powerful vasoconstrictor epinephrine in combination with the local anaesthetic lidocaine in the emergency room. One study I discovered did demonstrate a decrease in blood flow to the fingertips in coffee drinkers. However, it is unknown whether caffeine in coffee grounds applied topically would have the same vasoconstricting effect.