How can honey and other common substances help to treat wounds? EW asks an expert.

Q.  I have a horse that got a nasty bite wound to the knee 12 days ago. He had it stitched and was put on stall rest, but he blew his stitches when the vet came to re-bandage him on day 3, and was found with the blown stitches on day 4. How long will it take for his wound to close up with being bandaged and changed daily on stall rest? Also, which wound cream would be best for him?

A.  Wounds heal from the edges, so a long surgical incision or traumatic cut that is stitched takes only 10 days to heal because from side to side it is a short distance. A wound that is open and has some distance across takes much longer, since the skin only grows a short distance every 10 days.

Knees are very hard, because they bend, and many times the sutures do come out. So, now you have an open wound that will take time to heal. You do not say far across the opening is, but it could take weeks. It is possible to speed up the healing process quite a bit with natural treatments. In my opinion, now that the sutures are gone, getting out some should be fine, as long as he does not go crazy or roll around in the mud. Might be best to hand walk and graze him until you have a nice bed of granulation tissue across the wound (this looks like a bumpy pink surface covering the wound). Skin will follow behind the granulation tissue.

The very best treatment topically is honey (you can get local Grade B honey from a beekeeper which cannot be sold for flavor reasons but works great and is cheap for wounds). Apply the honey once or twice a day, either with or without a bandage. It will pick up bedding on the surface, but that can easily be washed off with a bit or warm water daily. The honey will add oxygen by releasing an enzyme when it mixes with water and wound juice (see my Facebook page for an equine wound healing study with honey). Oxygen helps tissue heal faster, and is antimicrobial.

Internally, use the homeopathic remedy Calendula 30C, give 6-8 tabs once a day for 3-5 days, then 2-3 times a week to speed up healing. You can also use Calendula gel from the health food store sometimes on the wound. Both these topicals usually prevent excess granulation tissue which is called “proud flesh”. If proud flesh appears there are other homeopathics that can be used, as well as other topicals. Do not put drying or caustic agents on, they slow healing and increase scarring. Once the area has healed, the remedy Silicea 30C can be given a couple times a week for a few weeks to shrink the scarring.

Q.  I have an 8-year old gelding who had an impalement accident up his sheath, 13 inches deep. This happened 3 1/2 years ago & is still draining. They think he may have a piece of wood/shavings in it. I can’t afford surgery to dislodge it, are there any dangers in letting it drain? I clean him often and the vet does deep cleaning every 6 months.

A.  The homeopathic remedy Silicea 30C can often actually remove old splinters. Feed 6-8 little tabs once a day for 3-8 days. Let it work for a few weeks, then you may need to repeat it again. You may see more drainage for a few weeks, and if you are lucky you will find the piece but usually it falls out in the pasture. After it comes out, the area will dry up and heal. If it does not come out with Silicea there are several other remedies that can be used, but you should consult a homeopathic vet to figure that out. Silicea is my very favorite remedy for these sorts of things, and a $10 remedy sure beats a $1000 surgery bill!

Dr. Joyce Harman is a veterinarian specializing in acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, and a variety of holistic methods. She has “written the book” on saddle fitting, with two volumes, The Horse’s Pain Free Back and Saddle Fit Book for western and English horses. She also has a booklet to help introduce people to homeopathy for horses, The First Aid Guide to Homeopathy for Horses. Her goal is to help educate the equine industry about natural, holistic and integrative medicine. Got a question for Dr. Harman? Just leave us a comment on our Equine Wellness Facebook Page. She will be answering 1-2 questions every week!