Homeopathic Gunpowder: Big Bang from a Small
Shirley J. Casey, WildAgain Wildlife
Wildlife rehabilitators frequently see wild
animals arrive for rehabilitation with a variety
of wounds. These wounds may be from a variety of
sources: fish hooks, barbed wire, lawnmowers,
traps, tree branches, cats, dogs, bullets, or,
even other wild animals. They include abrasions,
lacerations, punctures, crushing, degloving,
burns, compound fractures, and more. Some of the
wounds may be recent and fresh; some are older.
Some of the wounds may be relatively clean and
unlikely to become infected if untreated; others
may be developing infection. Some animals arrive
with severe abscesses or septicemia.
Rehabilitators work closely with their
veterinarians on establishing wound management
protocols. Minor wounds are generally thoroughly
cleaned and flushed by the rehabilitators. More
severe wounds are likely to be cleaned and
treated by the veterinarian, such as those
needing suturing or surgery. The continuing
treatment may include soaking, debriding, and
other treatments. Veterinarians may prescribe
antibiotics for wounds, especially those that
are severe or already infected.
In the last few years, rehabilitators and
veterinarians alike have become increasingly
concerned with problems related to antibiotics.
It has not been unusual for wildlife on
antibiotics to lose their appetite or develop
gastrointestinal difficulties (e.g., diarrhea).
In many cases, the antibiotics have been
prescribed without the bacteria being cultured –
so the effectiveness may be limited. There is
growing concern about rising antibiotic
resistance in wild populations. Holistic
veterinarians have also expressed concerns about
While there may be cases when antibiotics are
necessary, these and other concerns about
antibiotic use with wildlife have prompted
wildlife rehabilitators to explore alternative
treatment options. Homeopathic literature has
many descriptions about the use of homeopathic
medicines used with wounds, such as Hypericum,
Ledum, Calendula, and Staphysagria. Other
homeopathic medicines are commonly described for
infections, such as Hepar sulphuris, Lachesis,
Crotalus horridus, and Pyrogenium. Wildlife
rehabilitators have used such homeopathic
medicines with wildlife after consulting with
homeopathic veterinarians. These homeopathic
medicines have demonstrated their effectiveness
as part of an overall wound management protocol.
Several years ago, the author read about
homeopathic Gunpowder in Morgan’s Homeopathic
Medicine: First Aid and Emergency Care and
Sheppard’s The Magic of the Minimum Dose.
After reading Dr. John Clarke’s monograph,
Gunpowder as a War Remedy, the author
discussed this homeopathic medicine with a small
group of rehabilitators. While Gunpowder was not
well represented in homeopathic repertories,
Clarke and a few other homeopaths described
homeopathic Gunpowder as highly effective with
infected wounds. Clarke wrote:
“The great sphere of action of gunpowder is in cases of
septic suppuration - or, in other words - of
wounds that have become poisoned with the germs
of putrefaction. … But Gunpowder my [may] also
be used as a prophylactic.
That is to say, it will not only cure
septic suppuration when present, but it will
afford such protection to the organism against
harmful germs, that wounds will be less likely
to become septic in one who is under its
Now the great point about Gunpowder is that it has a
broad and clear indication that hardly anyone
can miss - blood - poisoning. …
The poison quickly finds its way into the blood
- boils, carbuncles, eruptions, abscesses, or
other manifestations appear, showing
unmistakably that the blood has been poisoned.
To all these conditions Gunpowder acts as an
This group of wildlife rehabilitators was
particularly interested in Gunpowder since it
could be used prophylactically, at least
according to Clarke. Many very small animals,
such as young birds, rabbits, and squirrels are
commonly admitted to rehabilitation with wounds
caused by animals. Even after aggressive wound
cleaning and the use
of Ledum and Hypericum, and even some
antibiotics, some of the wounds still became
infected, especially wounds from cats. In some
cases, even wounds treated with antibiotics
became infected. Waiting until the symptoms of
infection were apparent in order to select
Lachesis, Hepar sulphuris, or other homeopathic
medicines meant the infection could be well
established and more difficult to treat,
particularly in such small or young animals. A
homeopathic medicine that could be given
immediately after the wound, but before the
infection had become serious was obviously was
of high interest.
“The Gunpowder with which we are concerned is the
traditional Black Gunpowder, whose three
cardinal constituents are sulphur, carbon, and
nitre or saltpetre. …As sulphur, carbon, and
saltpetre are three potent medicines known to
pharmacy and physic, it is not surprising that a
combination of the three should be a medicine of
great potency. There is a certain piquancy in
the fact that gunpowder is a remedy for the
accidents of warfare….”
Gunpowder as a War Remedy
by John H. Clarke, M.D.
Clarke and Sheppard described using low
potencies of homeopathic Gunpowder and repeating
it regularly. However, rehabilitators want to
minimize handling of wildlife to reduce stress
and risk. Plus, wildlife often arrives with high
vital force, and with serious, acute injuries
that need immediate attention. As a result, the
group believed that the higher potencies might
be more appropriate. So the group ordered
Gunpowder in 30c and 200c potencies from Natural
Health Supply (Santa Fe,
Sample of Cases
In the last couple of years, the homeopathic
Gunpowder has been used with over a hundred
cases of wildlife admitted for rehabilitation.
The group of rehabilitators and their
veterinarians found the Gunpowder to be
effective with a variety of wounds. The
following describes several of the cases. All of
the rehabilitators using homeopathy had the
appropriate state and federal rehabilitation
permits, were experienced with the species
admitted, and followed effective rehabilitation
practices (diet, caging, etc.). They had
attended training on the use of classical
homeopathy with wildlife, had repertories and
materia medicas, and consulted with
veterinarians. Most had Clarke’s monograph on
Gunpowder. They also used effective wound
management protocols, such as thoroughly
flushing the wounds and keeping the wounds
clean. In all of the cases, the homeopathic
medicines were dissolved in water and
administered orally unless otherwise described.
Pigeon Injured by Dog
A fledgling pigeon (Columba liva) was
rescued from a dog and taken to a wildlife
rehabilitator later that day. While the bird’s
vital force was high, he was in shock and seemed
terrified. As a standard treatment, the
rehabilitator immediately administered Aconitum
napellus 1m for the severe fear and placed the
bird in a quiet, warm cage.
A short while later, the bird seemed
considerably calmer. The bird still showed some
signs of shock and seemed to have pain when
touched, probably from bruising. Since Arnica
montana is excellent with traumas and shock from
injury, the rehabilitator gave the pigeon a
single dose of Arnica 1m. A deep, wide
laceration on the right chest and under the
right wing was cleaned with a dilute Betadine®
solution. The bird was placed back in the cage
A couple of hours later, the bird’s wounds
seemed to have become extremely painful. She
repertorized and selected Hypericum for its
effectiveness with lacerations and extreme pain
from injuries. She gave Hypericum 1m and placed
Calendula gel on the wound. Within an hour, the
bird was starting to eat, seemed more alert, and
was moving more comfortably.
The rehabilitator was also concerned with the
potential risk of infection from the wound. She
decided to give the Gunpowder 200c since it
could help prevent infection. Within a couple of
days, the wounds healed with no signs of
infection. The bird was released when he was
able to fly effectively.
Cottontail with Degloved Thigh
a young cottontail rabbit (Sylviagus
nuttallii) from her cat, a woman washed the
rabbit’s wound with a solution of
saline and hydrogen peroxide. The rescuer
delivered the rabbit to the rehabilitator at a
rendezvous site seven hours later.
The rabbit had glassy eyes and was in severe
shock. The rabbit was given Aconitum napellus 1m
for terror and
shock, and placed in a small, warm transport
By the time the
rehabilitator arrived back at the rehabilitation
facility, about 30 minutes, the juvenile rabbit
(200 grams) seemed less fearful but still showed
signs of shock. An examination revealed most of
skin was torn from the right thigh. The exposed
muscles were raw and seemed very painful. Due to
its effectiveness with severe and painful
lacerations and shock from injury, the rabbit
was given a single dose of Hypericum 1m.
Within fifteen minutes, it seemed the pain had
decreased significantly since he was eating and
grooming. At that time, the wound
was cleaned with a solution of dilute Betadine®
and then covered with calendula gel. A small
amount of Neosporin® ointment was placed over
the top of the gel to keep the wound moist in
case the veterinarian later wanted to try
placing the skin back over the wound. The rabbit
promptly returned to eating and grooming.
A veterinarian was contacted. She recommended
not replacing the skin over the degloved area
due to the fact that eight hours that had passed
since the injury and the rescuer had used a
peroxide solution. Since
antibiotics can easily upset delicate
gastro-intestinal systems found in rabbits, it
was decided to use homeopathic Gunpowder in an
attempt to prevent the onset of infection.
The rabbit was given an initial dose of
homeopathic Gunpowder 200c. The wound was
flushed again the second
day and calendula gel was applied several times.
The wound remained extremely red. Since it was
difficult to determine
if any infection was apparent, the Gunpowder was
repeated one time. The rabbit remained
relatively still in
the cage and had a good appetite.
The third day the wound was less raw and red.
The rabbit was still eating well, but the
rehabilitator was concerned about the extreme
stress that captivity places on rabbits. The
decision was to try to further accelerate the
healing by administering a single dose of
Calendula 200c. Calendula gel was placed on the
wound twice a day.
On the 12th day after the cat bite, the wound was covered
with skin, a tiny scab was barely visible, and
the rabbit had gained considerable weight. The
rabbit was released the following day.
Juvenile Crow with Abscess
A member of the public delivered a juvenile crow
(Corvus brachyrhynchos) to a
veterinarian. The bird had a large abscess on
the left side of its head that had broken open
and was draining. After thoroughly flushing and
cleaning the abscess, the veterinarian
transferred the crow to a rehabilitator. He sent
along an antibiotic in case the rehabilitator
On arrival, the rehabilitator noted that the
bird, in addition to the abscess, had some
bruises and seemed painful when touched. While
it was uncertain what had caused the wounds, it
appeared to have resulted from some kind of
trauma. The bird had high vital force. Arnica
montana is well known for its ability to address
general trauma, soreness, and pain when touched.
Arnica is also listed in bold in Generalities,
Abscesses, supprations. The rehabilitator
administered a single dose of Arnica 1m. Within
hours, the bird seemed more comfortable,
especially when handled.
The next morning, however, the abscess looked
much worse and smelled putrid even after it had
been thoroughly cleaned. The etiology of the
wound was unknown. Her first impulse was to give
a homeopathic medicine known to be effective
with severe infections.
After repertorizing, she read descriptions of
Lachesis, Arsenicum, Silicea, Hepar sulphuris,
Mercurius, and Pyrogenium. However, these
remedies did not seem to be a close match to the
case. While Gunpowder was not well represented
in the repertory, she decided to use it due to
Clarke’s description of its effectiveness with
infection. Since time was of the essence, if
signs of initial improvement were not noticeable
in 12 hours, she would select another remedy or
begin the provided antibiotic. Since the bird
had high vital force and the condition was
grave, she wanted to give a significant stimulus
to healing. She administered a single dose of
Within hours, the abscess seemed smaller and the
odor decreased. The crow started eating and
moving better. Within a few days, all signs of
the abscess were gone and the wound healed. The
bird was released with others of its age.
Robin with Deteriorating Wound
A juvenile robin (Turdus migratorius) was
admitted to a rehabilitation center with several
deep cat bites on the body and under its left
wing. The wounds were thoroughly washed with a
Betadine® solution. Baytril® was administered
twice a day on the veterinarian’s instructions.
While the wounds were cleaned daily, they did
not seem to be healing. The robin’s appetite
decreased. The bird was kept in a small cage
with supplemental heat.
On the fifth and last evening of the Baytril®,
the rehabilitator found the wounds under the
wings had deteriorated. There was considerable
black and necrotic tissue on the wound under the
wing. The wound also had a highly offensive
As she cleaned the wounds again, the
rehabilitator considered the options. The
veterinarian would not be available until the
next day. She felt that if the Baytril® had not
begun to control the infection, other
antibiotics might not be effective or able to
start fast enough to help the robin. Or, she
could try a homeopathic medicine. While not very
experienced with homeopathy, she had some
homeopathic Gunpowder and knew it had been
effective with some severe infections. She
decided to give a single dose of Gunpowder 200c
that evening. If the bird lived until morning,
she would discuss further action with her
The following morning, the wounds looked smaller
and no longer contained any black tissue or
noticeable smell. The rehabilitator was
absolutely astounded with the bird’s
improvement. The wounds healed completely within
a couple of days, with the Robin released a
short while later.
Two of the cases described above show how
homeopathic Gunpowder was used successfully as a
prophylactic to try to prevent infection from
occurring. In the other two cases, the
homeopathic Gunpowder was used with wounds that
were already infected, with one that had
deteriorated even after antibiotics. The
homeopathic Gunpowder was quite effective as
part of a wound management protocol in these
four cases. There are additional successful
cases where rehabilitators have used homeopathic
Gunpowder, such as with the Pelican with the
fourteen inch laceration in his chest and ground
squirrel with a septic leg that had not
responded to antibiotics. That is not to say
that homeopathic Gunpowder is an appropriate for
all wounds or a substitute for antibiotics. Nor
does this suggest that use of homeopathic
Gunpowder ensures a positive outcome. Rather,
these cases suggest that homeopathic Gunpowder
and classical homeopathic protocols are one more
option that might be considered as part of a
wound management protocol.
While Gunpowder is not well represented in the
homeopathic repertories or a match for all
wounds, it seems worth considering. As Lyle
Morgan says in Homeopathic Medicine: First
Aid and Emergency Care, homeopathic
Gunpowder “… is a valuable, but all too often
ignored remedy.” Those who worked these cases
are not likely to ignore or forget the
beneficial effects of homeopathic Gunpowder.
is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in
Evergreen, CO. She and her husband have
rehabilitated and released over 1,600 small
mammals since 1986. Shirley is a co-founder of
WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. which
also conducts research and presents a variety of
training programs around North America. Over 600
people have attended the one and two day
seminars on homeopathic first aid for wildlife
that the Caseys conduct in partnership with
homeopathic veterinarians. Shirley works
closely with both allopathic and holistic
veterinarians. She may be reached at info@Ewildagain.org.
The photographs were taken by Shirley Casey.
© 2002 Shirley J. Casey
The author appreciates the contributions to this
paper by Nancy Kelly, CO; Sharon St. Joan, UT;
Therese Bush, CA; and Betty Jo Black, DVM, CO.
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