The use of silver in healing has been around in various forms since ancient times. It was used before the advent of modern pharmaceuticals as an antiobiotic and as a cure-all for various types of infections and deterrent for microbial activity. It has been used widely as a topical cream/gel/spray to promote healing and prevent infection in wounds and burns. We used a form of it at the veterinary clinic I worked at – silver sulfadiazine on a regular basis. Some people even promote internal or intravenous uses of colloidal silver.
There is much controversy on whether the use of colloidal silver is helpful or harmful, as there often is with “non-traditional” approaches. But for me, the proof is in the pudding. And I have many personal friends that have used it very long term with great benefits and no ill effects. However, I always recommend you do your own research on things like this and don’t just take mine, or anyone else’s, word for it.
Spirit vs. The Burn Pile
I have said many times that horses are magnets for getting themselves into all manner of predicaments. Mine are no exception! However, whenever possible, I try to look at these incidents as teachable moments and find natural ways to address them. At the end of the summer 2019, my gelding Spirit gave me this opportunity when he decided that the still-smoldering ashes of a brush pile that I had lit the day before would be a good place to roll! Spirit is 17-years-old and I’ve had him most of his life. We have burned MANY brush piles on our property and never before has he ever decided hot ashes/coals on a hot summer day was a good place to lay down!
When I went out that morning to do my chores, I almost didn’t notice the singed hair on his fetlocks. But then I noticed the ash residue on his flank and saw the faint yellowing on his white sock. It didn’t look bad at all at that time. The blistering didn’t start until that evening. It was soon apparent he had burned himself pretty severely and I took immediate action with cold compresses soaked in lavender water. I documented our progress daily in the form of a photo diary. Here is what happened and the protocol that I used on Spirit.
I was absolutely amazed at the speed of healing I observed with Spirit. I truly believe that the combination of colloidal silver, red light therapy (thank you SOOOO much to my good friend Ellen Hardin who gave so much of her time to help Spirit), natural immune system and soft tissue support supplementation, as well as soothing/cleansing topical skin/hair protocols, to his rapid and full recovery. He has completely and fully healed with only a couple of small hairless patches still to go.
While I chose not to involve my veterinarian in this instance, I recommend that before you start any protocol with your horse that you should always consult your vet. Having worked as a veterinary technician for a number of years, I felt very confident that I could handle this situation at home and could recognize any impending problems that would require swift veterinary attention. There is also no reason that you couldn’t use some or all of what I used in conjunction with more traditional treatments as long as your veterinarian had no objection.
What Is Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver is comprised of extremely tiny particles of silver (nanometer sized particles) suspended in liquid. These particles are so incredibly small that normal filtering processes cannot remove them. The theory is the tiny size of these particles allows silver ions to pass through the cell membrane of bacteria where they can then go to work destroying the infection. (1)
Studies show that colloidal silver is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent that may be able to fight and kill pathogens that make us sick. It can inhibit the growth of both aerobic (requiring oxygen) and anaerobic (not requiring oxygen) bacteria, according to research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. (2)
I learned that the gel form of colloidal silver was a better choice than cream or fatty oil-based topicals during the open wound phase of the healing process. The use of the fatty oil actually hindered healing and promoted the growth of proud flesh on Spirit when I discontinued the gel form too soon. Once I went back to gel, healing resumed and the proud flesh disappeared.
A study by the Centre for Nanobioscience showed that colloidal silver gel was found to have comparable effects to the commercial formulation of silver sulfadiazine, and with even much lower silver concentrations. It was also suggested that the silver gel was able to promote scar-less wound healing (which I found to be the case for Spirit). It was also found to be quite safe and non-toxic on study rats, proving it to be a safer alternative to conventional antimicrobial topical products that tend to lead to antibiotic resistance. (3)
This information is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or condition, nor is it meant to replace regular veterinary care. Always remember to consult your veterinarian before beginning any treatment plan on your horse!
Lisa Carter is a Certified Equine Massage Therapist (CEMT), with multiple certifications from several different equine bodywork schools. She incorporates her knowledge and experience with Parelli Natural Horsemanship, equine bodywork, using essential oils for animals and as a veterinary technician to provide her clients with the resources they need to make informed decisions for their horses. She encourages and facilitates network building between equine health care professionals, working together to find the best combination of therapies to meet the needs of the “whole horse”.