Horse Health: Medicinal Sugar

Sugar has long been used by naturalists and herbalists as an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal treatment for wound care and healing. However, due to our “western medicine” indoctrination, it took an up-close-and-personal experience with it to really make me comfortable with its healing properties.

Austin, Texas experienced a tragic flash flood in 2013 that swept away and killed about 50 horses on the low side of the rampaging river. The few that survived arrived at our ranch damaged but alive. One of the survivors had a very deep gash across her throat just behind the jaw bone where it looked like a fence pole might have penetrated her neck. The wound was so deep that the lymph glands were coming out of the gash.

The veterinarian initially cleaned it up with sterile solutions, stitched the glands back into the space, packed it with Furazone, and closed the gash with more external stitches (which subsequently refused to stay closed). Then he administered an anti-biotic and left anti-biotic powder for daily administration. The wound looked very bad to the untrained eye, but it started to granulate in, a little each day for the first week. Bandages were changed twice a day and she was closely monitored because she kept rubbing the area on any available fence or wall.

There were so many horses to treat and so few vets to travel from ranch to ranch. Initial pro-bono work turned into paid visits. The charges were really racking up for owners who were already suffering financial disaster after losing their homes as well.

The internal area of the wound seemed to be granulating, covering the lymph glands. It was suggested by someone who has treated horses for years and years, that cleaning and irrigating the wound and then packing it with sugar each day would be sufficient for healing without infection. Destitute and desperate, the owner began packing each day with granulated sugar then re-bandaging. Incredibly, the wound never got angry. It never got any odor. It stayed wet and pink and slowly filled in over the next 60 days.

I saw the horse yesterday for the first time in a few weeks. 75 days after the accident, you cannot find the wound on her neck.

While I do not take anything from the initial furazone nor from the systemic anti-biotic, I am convinced that sugar was beneficial for the still-open wound long after the anti-biotics were gone. Since then, I have talked to the person who recommended this treatment, and she has told me of many ugly gashes that have been treated with sugar alone and healed handsomely. My research seems to indicate that sugar is a much-overlooked and underestimated “medicine”.

Please note that this advice is neither veterinary nor prescriptive in nature but offered only as an introduction to this topic.

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