Disclaimer: This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not intended to endorse any product.

Dr. Eleanor Kellon, 

Staff Veterinary Specialist for Uckele Health & Nutrition

Poultices have been in use as long as horses have been domesticated. In fact, they used to be a very common human remedy as well. Major uses for poultices are:

  • to soothe and cool inflamed or overheated areas
  • to draw excess moisture (edema water) from the skin
  • to draw oils and organic matter (bacterial or insect toxins, edema/inflammatory proteins) from the skin

With the long history of their use, you might expect good research would be available to support their use, but this isn’t the case. The medical literature is actually pretty scarce, but it does support the ability of clays in poultices to draw out harmful minerals, as well as proteins that would accumulate in areas of inflammation.

Poultices are commonly applied to bites, abscesses, wounds (not recommended for this unless extremely pure), areas of fresh musculoskeletal injury and as a prophylactic measure following hard work.

A dream poultice product would:

  • have a high capacity to draw organic material
  • be easy to work with and apply
  • remain moist for at least 12 hours with appropriate bandage
  • have low potential to irritate the skin
  • be easy to remove

All of these features are important when picking a poultice you would keep around the barn for general use. In addition, an all-purpose poultice should be gentle to the skin and free of ingredients that would generate an irritant/counterirritant effect since this would be contraindicated with acute inflammation. 

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