Veterinary Homeopathy

Gunpowder! Little-Known Remedy Packs a Wallop Against Wounds

casey gunpowder july image

The author describes the usefulness of Gunpowder as a homeopathic remedy in wildlife.

Gunpowder for wound treatment?! It sounded intriguing to me in 1999 when I first read about homeopaths using Gunpowder successfully for this purpose. Of course they weren’t detonating it, but rather giving it orally as a homeopathic remedy–that is, a medicine prepared by a homeopathic pharmacy according to exact specifications and always highly diluted.

In Lyle Morgan’s Homeopathic Medicine: First Aid and Emergency Care, I read: “In 4 years of practice, using Gun powder (3x) as an adjunct treatment to homeopathic wound cleansing, I have never had any trouble from infection in a wound so treated.” And in Dorothy Shepherd’s Magic of the Minimum Dose, I read that abrasions “would not turn septic, if cleansed carefully … and a tablet of Gunpowder was given three or four times a day for two or three days.” Further research revealed that Gunpowder is not mentioned frequently in the homeopathic literature. However, John H. Clarke’s 30-page monograph, Gunpowder as a War Remedy, published in 1915, was a wealth of information. He 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 influence….

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 antidote.”

Gunpowder‘s potential for helping wildlife

As a wildlife rehabilitator since 1986 who has used homeopathy since 1992, I immediately realized that homeopathic Gunpowder could be of tremendous help in the treatment of wild animals because wounds are one of the most common conditions in wild animals admitted to rehabilitation. Some wounds are minor and the animals recover without incident–but others are life-threatening or fatal.

A bottle of homeopathic medicine, Gunpowder 200C, next to the original substance from which it was prepared: black powder gunpowder. © Shirley Casey

Wild animals can get wounded in a variety of ways: they may be bitten by household pets, hit by vehicles, bullets, or gardening equipment, trapped, or even bitten by other wild animals. Common wounds in wild animals include punctures, lacerations, abrasions, crushing injuries, burns, compound fractures, and more. When seen by rehabilitators, the wounds may be recent and fresh, or they may be older.

They may be relatively clean and unlikely to become infected if untreated, or they can be contaminated and in the early stages of infection. Occasionally, wild animals arrive in rehabilitation with seriously infected wounds: severe abscesses, gangrene, or septicemia (blood-poisoning). It was interesting to note that Clarke described using Gunpowder with similar infections from lacerations, animal bites (including insect, squirrel, and snake bites), and sores from various toxins.

Very small animals, such as young birds, rabbits, and squirrels, are commonly admitted to rehabilitation with bite wounds. Even after aggressive wound cleaning and the use of the homeopathic remedies Ledum and Hypericum, which can be very effective for punctures and other kinds of lacerations, we rehabilitators found that some of the wounds still became infected, especially those from cat bites.

Waiting until the signs of infection were apparent before selecting the homeopathic medicines matching the symptoms meant that the infection could become well established and more difficult to treat, particularly in such small or young animals. Any homeopathic remedy that could be given preventively–immediately after the wound occurred or was found, but before an infection developed as Clarke suggested for Gunpowder–greatly interested me.

Concerns about antibiotic use

Rehabilitators work closely with their veterinarians to learn basic skills and establish wound management protocols to promote healing and deter infection. Many veterinarians want rehabilitators to immediately clean, flush, and treat minor wounds, but more severe wounds are cleaned and treated by the veterinarian, such as those needing suturing or surgery. Veterinarians often prescribe antibiotics for wounds, especially those that are severe, badly contaminated, or already infected.

Veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitators, and many others, however, share increasing concerns about problems related to antibiotics. The World Health Organization cites antibiotic resistance as one of the top three world health problems. Antibiotics can cause a variety of undesired side effects in wild animals, including appetite loss and gastrointestinal difficulties (e.g., diarrhea). In addition, antibiotics may not be effective against some kinds of bacteria. It can also be challenging to determine safe, yet effective, doses for animals that are very small or large, or are difficult or dangerous to medicate.

Considering homeopathy for wounds

These and other concerns have prompted wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians to consider alternative treatment options for wounds. While some have tried various botanical and natural treatments, others have turned to homeopathy. Homeopathic literature discusses many remedies that have been used specifically with wounds.

Most of these homeopathic remedies are well-known, such as Hypericum, Ledum, Calendula, Staphysagria, Phosphorus, Hamamelis, Apis, and Arnica. Other homeopathic medicines are commonly considered with infections, such as Hepar sulphuris, Lachesis, Crot. horridus, Mercurius, and Pyrogenium.

So I gave a copy of Clarke’s monograph on Gunpowder to several rehabilitators and veterinarians who were already using homeopathy with wildlife, to get their reaction. They were just as enthusiastic as I was, especially since Clarke reported that homeopathic Gunpowder was helpful with both obvious existing infections and those that were expected due to the nature of the wound.

Potency decisions

Morgan, Shepherd, and Clarke all described using lower potencies (e.g., 3X) of Gunpowder when treating people with wounds. However, as rehabilitators and veterinarians working with wildlife, we knew that wild animals often arrive in rehabilitation with a high vital force and serious, acute conditions requiring immediate attention.

We had learned that that when using homeopathic remedies with wildlife, a single dose of a higher potency was often more appropriate than multiple repetitions of lower potencies. Also, minimizing the number of doses reduced the need to handle and potentially stress the animals. So, several of us ordered Gunpowder in 30c and 200c potencies.

First successful cases lead to more

During the first few years, this group of experienced and licensed rehabilitators used standard wound management protocols, worked closely with veterinarians, and used Gunpowder when it was deemed appropriate. The group also had attended training on the use of classical homeopathy with wildlife, had repertories and materia medicas, as well as Clarke’s monograph on Gunpowder, and used effective rehabilitation practices (e.g., diet, caging). We saw positive results using Gunpowder with more than a hundred cases of wildlife admitted with a wide variety of wounds.

In 2002, I described the use of homeopathic Gunpowder during conference presentations at the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy and American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AVHMA). Joyce Harman, DVM, mentioned her successful use of Gunpowder for horses with bone infections at the same AVHMA Conference.

I also started describing the use of homeopathic Gunpowder in my seminars for wildlife rehabilitators. In addition, my article “Homeopathic Gunpowder: Big Bang from a Small Remedy” was published in the Winter 2002 edition of the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. (See Resources.)

Since then, we have heard that homeopathic Gunpowder has been used successfully with hundreds, if not thousands, of wildlife cases. The following are a few examples. In each of the cases, the homeopathic medicines were dissolved in water and administered orally.

Eagle shot through the wing

A state wildlife officer found a Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) sitting in a field, unable to fly, so he took it to the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program in Fort Collins, Colorado, on a Friday afternoon. The bird was in mild shock and somewhat dehydrated. He had an injured right wing and broken tail feathers. While the eagle did not appear as frightened as most wild animals do when captured, transported, and examined, the experienced raptor rehabilitator still decided to administer a dose of Aconite 1M, a homeopathic remedy helpful in cases of fright, shock, and trauma.

Further examination revealed a small hole through the tip of the eagle’s wing. The bullet had shot off a small digit (bone), and the wound was close to other bones. Since the injury was several days old and dirty, the risk of infection was high. The wound was thoroughly cleaned and flushed, and then bandaged with a wet-to-dry wrap. Following this, an antibiotic and a pain medication were given according to conventional veterinary protocols.

Gunshot wound in the wingtip of Golden Eagle after a thorough cleaning. Antibiotics had been started, but photo was prior to the administration of homeopathic Gunpowder. Photo by Rocky Mountain Raptor Program.

The rehabilitator also administered a dose of Arnica montana 1M to address the trauma of the eagle’s injury and his fall after being shot while flying. Following rehydration, the eagle was placed in a cage where his movement would be relatively limited.

The rehabilitator had recently acquired Clarke’s monograph on Gunpowder and two potencies of the remedy: 30c and 1M. She thought that homeopathic Gunpowder could be a good match for the eagle since the wound was contaminated, older, and had the potential to develop a serious infection. She decided that the higher potency would be the best choice because the condition was acute and the eagle’s vital force seemed high. So after consulting with a homeopathic veterinarian, she gave Gunpowder 1M about 6 hours after the Arnica. The eagle ate well and improved over the weekend.

On Monday morning, the rehabilitator and two conventional veterinarians examined the eagle’s wound. The veterinarians were amazed that the bird’s wound was healing so well and in record time. The rehabilitator explained that she had also consulted with a homeopathic veterinarian on the case and that the remedies Arnica and Gunpowder had likely accelerated and enhanced the eagle’s healing.

Two-and-a-half days after the administration of homeopathic Gunpowder, the eagle’s wound was healing faster than similar wounds had healed with good wound cleaning and antibiotics alone. Photo by Rocky Mountain Raptor Program.

It took more than a year of care in rehabilitation for the eagle to molt and new feathers to grow back on the wing tip and tail. Also, the eagle had to adjust to his missing digit and learn to fly again. The rehabilitators and others involved in the eagle’s recovery were convinced that homeopathy played a key role in the eventual release of this magnificent bird back to the wild.

Release of a Golden Eagle that had fully recovered after a gunshot wound. Children and adults celebrated its return to a life of freedom in the wild. Photo by Rocky Mountain Raptor Program.

A squirrel’s stubborn abscess

A veterinary clinic called a local wildlife rehabilitator about a juvenile Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus lateralis) that had been attacked by a client’s cat. The veterinarian had found three deep punctures in the squirrel’s shoulder and left front leg. He had cleaned the wounds and started the squirrel on a week-long course of antibiotics before the rehabilitator picked up the squirrel at the clinic.

Within two days, however, the squirrel’s shoulder and left leg were slightly swollen and inflamed. Another examination by the veterinarian resulted in adding a second and stronger antibiotic that would be given for ten days. The squirrel’s leg continued to swell and the inflammation increased. Within four more days, the leg became so hard and swollen that the squirrel could not bend his elbow or toes, and the leg seemed very painful when touched. Warm compresses helped to reduce the swelling and pain while they were applied, but by the end of the eighth day, the squirrel was clearly in a very serious condition, even with the antibiotics.

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel being fed squirrel milk replacement formula with special feeding syringe. © 2006 Shirley Casey

Consultation with the veterinarian resulted in the rehabilitator contacting a homeopathic veterinarian who prescribed Hepar sulphuris 30c because it is frequently effective with abscesses. Unfortunately, there was no change in the abscess by the next day. In light of the small squirrel’s rapidly deteriorating condition, they gave Lachesis 200c since it is often effective with abscesses and infections that are becoming septic. Again, there was no improvement in 12 hours–and there should have been if the remedy was the correct match for the condition.

They decided to switch to homeopathic Gunpowder and gave the squirrel one dose in the 200c potency. Within eight hours, the swelling had softened and a cream-colored discharge started draining through small holes that had appeared in the leg. The swelling soon decreased 40% and the squirrel was able to bend his elbow and toes.

The rate of improvement slowed at about 48 hours. Another dose of Gunpowder 200c was administered and the squirrel’s improvement continued steadily. Within four days of the original dose of Gunpowder, all signs of infection were gone and the squirrel was not showing any difficulty with the leg or shoulder. After another month in rehabilitation during which he appeared healthy and active, the squirrel was released back to the wild.

Blue Jay with a bone infection

A woman found a young Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) sitting on a gravel and dirt parking lot one Tuesday. Since it did not fly away, she took it home, placed it in a box, and fed it for a couple of days. The diet of dry dog food soaked in water was not the best for Blue Jays but it was acceptable for a few days. When the bird still was not standing or trying to fly by that Saturday evening, she took it to a wildlife rehabilitator.

The rehabilitator knew from past experience that wild animals that have recently been captured can suffer ill effects from fear, and this bird appeared to be severely frightened. So she gave the bird a dose of Aconite 1M, placed him in a small, warm, quiet cage, and let him calm down for an hour. She then conducted a basic examination of the calmer bird. His weight and general energy were good, but he had some swelling and bruising related to a simple fracture of the left leg.

While there was a small scratch on the leg, she observed no signs of infection. After giving a dose of Arnica montana 1M to address the traumatic injury, help reduce pain, and accelerate his recovery, she thoroughly cleaned the small scratch. Since the veterinarian’s office was already closed for the weekend, she carefully set and wrapped the leg to stabilize it according to the previous directions of her veterinarian. A few hours later, she administered a single dose of Symphytum 200c to reduce pain from the fracture and accelerate bone healing. The bird ate well and seemed better.

On Monday morning, she removed the wrap to check the leg. While bird bones do heal faster than mammal bones, she was impressed to find that the bone was already fairly solid. The rehabilitator had seen similar rapid healing of bird fractures when homeopathic remedies such as Symphytum or Ruta graveolens were used.

However, she was concerned about an area near the scratch that was warm, swollen, and blue and red with a slight greenish color. The leg appeared to be developing a serious infection. The rehabilitator consulted with a homeopathic veterinarian. Since the skin on a bird’s leg is so thin that an infection can easily involve the bone, they decided to administer a dose of Gunpowder 200c immediately. If the leg did not start to improve by the next morning, antibiotics would be given. The veterinarian also advised the rehabilitator to soak the bird’s leg in warm water with Epsom salts three times a day.

By the next morning, the jay’s leg color was better, and the swelling and inflammation were significantly reduced. By the second day, there were no signs of infection. After close monitoring for two weeks in an indoor cage, the bird was placed in an outdoor flight cage to practice flying. He was released with other young Blue Jays when they were ready for independence.

Chimney Swift nabbed by a cat

A homeowner saw a Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica) that had become soaked during a heavy rainstorm. She then watched a neighbor’s cat grab the bird before it was dry enough to fly. After scaring the cat into dropping the bird, she took the bird to a rehabilitator.

The Chimney Swift was cool, with shallow breathing and dull eyes–a combination of signs that indicated he was in shock. While trembling with fear, he still appeared to have a strong will to live. The rehabilitator gave the bird Aconite 1M and placed him on heat in a small, quiet cage. When the rehabilitator checked the bird an hour later, he was warm, strong, and alert, so it appeared that the Aconite had helped.

There were no signs of wounds or injuries, but since a cat had captured the bird, the rehabilitator knew there were likely punctures; also, punctures from cat bites often close quickly and may not be visible. Concern about rapid infection and septicemia resulting from the bacteria in cats’ mouths prompts many veterinarians to routinely prescribe antibiotics when small animals are injured by cats.

The rehabilitator gave a single dose of Gunpowder 30c as a prophylactic as directed by a veterinarian. Within a day, the Chimney Swift was acting normally and was placed in an outdoor flight cage. He did not show any signs of infection or other problems. The recovered bird was released 14 days later–well after infection would have appeared if there had been any.

Big results from a “small” remedy

Two of the cases described above show how homeopathic Gunpowder was used successfully as a prophylactic to prevent infection from occurring. In the other cases, Gunpowder was used with wounds that were already infected. Gunpowder appears to have been highly effective in all four cases. There are many more cases where rehabilitators have used Gunpowder successfully, such as a young opossum with multiple abdominal abscesses from cat bites; an infant squirrel with an infected umbilicus; a raccoon with septicemia that had not responded to multiple courses of antibiotics; and a duck with a bone infection.

Homeopathic Gunpowder is not well represented in the repertories; nor is it a match for all wounds, but it nevertheless is 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 have seen homeopathic Gunpowder at work are likely to add it to wound rubrics in their repertories, and are not likely to forget its beneficial effects.


“Homeopathic First Aid Tips for Wildlife” by Shirley Casey and Betty Jo Black, DVM, 2002.

“Homeopathic Gunpowder: Big Bang from a Small Remedy” by Shirley Casey, Winter 2002, Journal of American Holistic Veterinary Medicine.

© 2011 Shirley J. Casey. Reprinted with permission of the author. Similar articles are available at

Gunpowder–Not Just For Wildlife

As we talked with rehabilitators about the use of homeopathic Gunpowder with wild animals, we learned of many cases in which people reported accelerating healing from their own wounds and related infections. Here are a few examples:

A rehabilitator said that his finger had started swelling after a bug had bitten him while he was in the garden one afternoon. He suspected a spider, but had not seen it. The bite became inflamed and sore. Suspecting an allergic reaction, he had taken an antihistamine, but saw no improvement. By the following day, his hand was swollen, inflamed, and very painful.

The area of the bite seemed to be developing a pocket of infection. When a friend mentioned homeopathic Gunpowder, he decided to try it while waiting to see his physician the next day. The pain and swelling started to decrease shortly after taking the first dose of Gunpowder 30c. He took a total of three doses in 24 hours and his hand healed quickly.

One rehabilitator had been bitten through the nail of her second finger when handling a squirrel with multiple abscesses. Her physician cleaned the wound and placed her on antibiotics. Unfortunately, the finger continued to swell below the nail, becoming inflamed and throbbing with pain even with the antibiotic treatment.

When the abscessed squirrel responded favorably to homeopathic Gunpowder, the rehabilitator decided to try a dose of 30c for her infected finger. The pain and swelling started to decrease immediately. She took several more doses of Gunpowder over the next 36 hours and the finger healed quickly.

Another rehabilitator lacerated his hand one morning while working on a construction project. Rather than stop to wash and bandage the wound, he continued working all day. By evening, the laceration was dirty and quite painful. When he washed off the dirt, he discovered that the wound had become very inflamed. He took a single dose of homeopathic Gunpowder 30c and the pain quickly subsided. The wound was almost healed by the next morning.

Many uses for Gunpowder

To help you get an idea of the range of symptoms that Gunpowder can address, here are some rubrics in which Gunpowder is mentioned in some repertories:

• Generalities; abscesses

• Generalities; abscesses, suppurations; recurrent

• Generalities; food and drinks; meat; aggravates; spoiled, bad

• Generalities; inflammation

• Generalities; inflammation; bones, osteitis; osteomyelitis

• Generalities; ptomaine poisoning, ailments from (food poisoning)

• Generalities; septicemia, blood poisoning, pyemia

• Generalities; vaccination; after

• Generalities; wounds

• Generalities; wounds; heal; slow

• Extremities; discoloration; black

• Skin; eruptions; carbuncle

• Skin; sore, becomes, decubitus (pressure sore)

Homeopaths make personal decisions to add remedies to rubrics in their repertories based on new information. As a result, I have personally added Gunpowder to the following repertory rubrics to help me remember this often unmentioned remedy:

• Generalities, wounds, bites

• Generalities, wounds, bites, cats of

• Generalities, wounds, bites, poisonous animals

• Generalities, wounds, bites, spider

• Generalities, wounds, black

• Generalities, wounds, cuts

• Generalities, wounds, gunshot

• Generalities, wounds, lacerations

• Generalities, wounds, painful

• Generalities, wounds, suppurating

• Generalities, injuries, bones, compound fractures

• Generalities, inflammation, gangrenous

• Skin, stings of insects

Wildlife rehabilitators provide temporary care to injured, orphaned, and distressed native wildlife so that those animals may survive when released back to the wild. Rehabilitators are required to have state, provincial, and often federal wildlife rehabilitation permits. The rehabilitators are trained, have special skills, use specialized diets and caging for the wildlife in rehabilitation, and work to minimize stress on these wild creatures.

Rehabilitators seek to provide the highest quality of care by following professional standards, pursuing continuing education, and working closely with veterinarians. An increasing number of rehabilitators are pursuing holistic health care options for the wild animals that arrive with compromised health. For more information on wildlife rehabilitation, visit

If you have found a wild animal that you believe needs help, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator for help in assessing if the animal really does need assistance and who would be available to provide effective help. If you do not know of a local rehabilitator, you can check for local rehabilitators on the internet or call animal rescue groups, veterinarians or conservation groups for a referral.

Exercise caution since wild animals are just that: wild. Even small or young animals can cause serious injury or transmit diseases or parasites. Remember, wild animals need specialized care – and what actions might be appropriate for a pet may cause serious problems for a wild animal.

About the author

Shirley Casey

Shirley Casey, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator since 1986, lives in Evergreen, Colorado. In partnership with homeopathic veterinarians, she has been publishing and conducting seminars and study groups on classical homeopathy in acute care for wildlife since 1997. Shirley presented on homeopathy with acute wildlife conditions at the annual conferences of the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, which were attended by veterinarians from the US and Canada. She and her husband, Allan, founded WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. in 1993. As president of WildAgain, she conducts research, provides seminars and online training, and publishes on topics related to wildlife health, rehabilitation practices, nutrition, facilities, conservation, regulations, and other wildlife topics available at A management consultant, Shirley has an MBA as well as BA. She can be reached at [email protected].


  • It is a good article. It is sad to note that not many people, or homeopaths know about the use of this little proven remedy. Which can avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics.

  • Thank you.
    I am very happy to improve my knowledge on homeopathy. At the moment I have a patient bitten by a dog to whom Lachesis is unsuccessful. Gunpowder is welcome.

  • My 3 year old son was told he’d have to be on antibiotics until his adult teeth grew in because of an accident which caused one of his teeth to splinter and bed into his gums. My homeopath put him onto Gunpowder and occasionally Hepar Sulph. He never needed any antibiotics and he is now 13. Since then, I’ve used Gunpowder on a traumatically amputated finger and a dog’s tail and no end of wounds in horses. Fabulous stuff and thanks for the article.

  • This is an excellent and informative article showing clear and positive results with homeopathic Gunpowder in treating wounds of different severity. This is the type of homeopathic article that I really appreciate and value; thank you!


  • I would like to thank Shirley for her great article on Gunpowder it really saved me another most uncomfortable and unpleasent operation knowing that a positive result may not be forth coming My problem was I had a so called infected hip replaced –the first one already replaced -and now the new one infected -abscess .supperation over 2 years nothing I tried really helped inclusive all the penicillen from MD .then I read your article I had not heard of Gun powder I order it the next day 12C + C30 I used 2 dose of C12 and my problem was solved and is still ok .I was one week away from deciding on a new operatin to replace top halve of protese. You cam imagine my relief.Thanks again Dick Morris Classical Homeopath Sweden

  • Hi,
    My sister had undergone spine surgery 5 months ago. She had about 13″ cut on her back. Even after 5 months, her wounds on her back have not recovered fully. She has infections again and again. VAC (Vacuum Assisted Closure) machine is being used to suction of discharge coming from wounds. The holes of the wound on her back are almost 1″ deep. My sister is bed ridden and recovery is very slow. She is diabetic but sugar is under control as she is given insulin. I would like to know what homeopathic treatment can be given to her so that the liquid coming out of wounds gets dried up and the skin grows normally? Shall appreciate a reply. Can gunpowder be given? If so, for how many days and of what potency?

  • Hi I have a broken rotting tooth atm and its killing me. I will try gunpowder instead of amoxicillin..and get back to you here with results!

  • Wonderful. Explained clearly.
    I have been using regularly practice gunpowder 200 with excellent results. This potency is worth trying.
    Email [email protected]
    Dr. Louis A. Nathan

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