The Cultivator & Country Gentleman 41:91 (1876)

CHARCOAL AS MEDICINE
Fenton. Mo. W. H. H.

*Ferrous sulfate

Nearly all sick horses and cows are made so in the first place by eating improper food, or too much of it. As soon as the owner finds any of his animals sick, it is the common custom to begin dosing with medicine. We must not leave the animals to die—we must "do something!" and so all manner of hurtful drugs and poisons are thrust down its throat—saltpetre, copperas*, turpentine, &c.—quite sufficient to make any well animal sick, or to kill a sick one. This evil is increased by the neighbors' remarking as follows: "You didn't give the poor thing enough;" "you should give it oftener;" "you can't expect your beast to get well if you don't do more for it."

My rule has always been to give nothing unless I knew exactly what to do; and in the meantime attend to every exterior comfort practicable. If the weather is cold I place the sick animal in warm quarters, avoiding all exposure and giving pure air and strict cleanliness.

There is one medicine that can never do harm, and is commonly beneficial: this is pulverized charcoal. As I have just remarked, nearly all sick animals become so by improper eating in the first place. In nine cases out of ten the digestion is wrong, and charcoal is the most efficient and rapid corrective. It will cure in a majority of cases, if promptly administered. A hired man came in with the intelligence that one of the finest cows was very sick and a kind neighbor proposed the usual drugs and poisons, but the owner being ill, and unable to examine the cow, concluded that the trouble came from overeating, and ordered a teacupful of pulverized charcoal given in water. It was mixed, placed in a bottle, the head held upwards, and the water and charcoal poured down. In five minutes improvement was visible, and in a few hours the animal was in the pasture quietly eating grass.

*Sodium bicarbonate

Another instance of equal success occurred with a young heifer, which became badly bloated by eating green apples after a hard wind. The bloating was so severe that her sides were almost as hard as a barrel. The old remedy—saleratus*—was tried for the purpose of correcting the acidity, but the attempt to put it down always caused coughing, and it did little good. Half a teacupful of freshly powdered charcoal was next given. In six hours all appearance of bloating was gone, and the heifer was well.