By Patrick Jones, DVM
Before we start, I want to advise you that there are some graphic wound images in this article that may be disturbing to sensitive souls. If you are a sensitive soul, please cover your eyes while reading this. :0)
Over the years I've worked on hundreds of wound cases in the veterinary clinic and in conjunction with my personal consultation service. These cases have historically been treated with a poultice formula containing the following herbs:
Comfrey Root: A remarkable vulnerary (cell proliferant) that accelerates healing
Calendula: An effective antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and vulnerary
Plantain: A soothing, detoxifier that also has mild antibiotic and vulnerary properties.
Flax Seed: Mechanically draws fluid and gunk from wounds and contains soothing mucilage.
Marshmallow Root: Contains high levels of soothing mucilage and inhibits tissue death and gangrene.
Lobelia: An antispasmodic that relaxes tissues and improves micro-vascular circulation to and from the wound.
Yarrow: Another good antibiotic and anti-inflammatory that also stops bleeding
Cayenne: Stimulates circulation and numbs the nerves (after a little initial zingyness!)
I give another formula internally to work the wound from the inside.
Poulticing works well with humans because humans tend to be well behaved and rarely chew off their bandages. Dogs are another story. Even with an Elizabethan collar (a.k.a. cone of shame) and significant bandaging, some dogs will manage to get the thing off! Nevertheless, I soldiered on with the poultice method and had good results.
Then one day I had a little yorkie come into the practice. He'd been burned and lost most of the skin on his lower back. I tried to poultice the wound but it was hopeless. There's nothing quite so wiggly as a happy yorkie butt! It was impossible to get a poultice on him, let alone have it stay for more than a few minutes. Finally, in exasperation, I made a tea of the poultice formula, put it into a spray bottle and told the owner to spray the little stinker a couple of times a day. The wound healed beautifully.
I tucked that case away in the back of my brain but continued poulticing other cases. Then we had the case of Juno. Her wound was also on her back and impossible to poultice because of its size and location. I had the owners make the tea and spray it on and she, as expected, healed beautifully as well.
Juno Before and After
A couple of weeks ago I met Morgan. Morgan is a little shi-tsu that broke her leg. Another veterinarian had put a cast on the leg (I don't like casts). The cast was too tight and created a nasty pressure sore (Did I mention I don't like casts?).
Morgan Pressure Sore: Day 1
I removed the cast and did surgery to plate the fractured bone but we were still left with the sore. Because her leg was so tender from the surgery, I decided that changing a poultice multiple times a day wouldn't be much fun for her and that she might be a good candidate for the spray-on-the-tea protocol. I gave the herbs to the owners and told them how to make the tea, strain it and put it into a spray bottle.
At her two week checkup, Morgan's wound was markedly improved. Even I, who have seen hundreds of these cases heal up was surprised at the rate of healing.
Morgan Pressure Sore: Day 14
I asked the owners what they were doing.
"We're just spraying it with that tea you gave us." they said.
When I gave them the herbs, I told them to spray her every time she went outside figuring that would be three or four times a day. I asked them when they were spraying her and they confirmed that they were doing it when she went outside. I scratched my head...then the light bulb came on and I asked the magic question;
"How many times a day does she go out?"
"We don't know," They said, "probably nine or ten times a day."
Further questioning revealed that there is a squirrel on their property that is having a border dispute with little Morgan. This delicate political situation requires constant monitoring and regular patrols on Morgan's part...Hence the high frequency of outside excursions and increased number of wound spray applications. The increased frequency of spray application markedly increased the rate of healing.
So, apparently, more wound spray is...well...better! Go figure.
As a result of this latest case, I don't see myself poulticing many wounds in the future unless there is a lot of pus or wound gunk (yes...that's a medical term) that would benefit from the powerful drawing benefits of a poultice. From here on out, it's going to be the internal BTC formula and the wound spray tea made from the poultice formula.
...And one other thing, I'm going to have to figure out some way to trap squirrels and release them into my clients' yards!
Dr. Patrick Jones is a practicing veterinarian, clinical herbalist and traditional naturopath, author of The HomeGrown Herbalist, and founder of the HomeGrown Herbalist School of Botanical medicine.. If you'd like to learn more about wound management and other herbal topics, we'd love to have you join us at one of our workshops or plant walks.
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