Horsemen's folklore credits farriers with the 'secret recipe' behind sugardine, used to treat hoof abscesses, thrush, sole bruising or damage, and skin problems ranging from rain rot to burns
Sugardine is a paste made from sugar and iodine with the consistency of peanut butter. Sugardine is applied to the hooves or skin to reduce the possibility of infection or inflammation, and speeds healing.
Treating topical problems with sugar is not new. Long before Mary Poppins sang how a "spoonful of sugar" could help the medicine go down, a document dated from 1700 B.C., The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, described treating wounds on the battlefields of Egypt with honey and grease. Other sticky sweet substances, like molasses and syrup, have also been used.
WHY IT WORKS
Folklore made sugardine a household word and science explains why it works. Sugar can help restore a proper pH balance in tissue, and has antibacterial properties. In 1981, the results of a five-year study on sugardine were published in Southern Medical Journal: "The use of sugardine seems to accelerate granulation tissue and epithelial tissue production, thereby covering wounds, burns or ulcers with skin."
Researchers noted how wounds treated with sugardine responded differently from those treated with antibiotics. "Unlike (wounds) treated with antibiotics, sugardine-treated wounds clean up rapidly; sugardine reduces edema, nourishes surface cells and has no fetid odor. We also found it effective on coronary band lacerations, burns, and thrush."
The late Burney Chapman, an American Farrier's Association (AFA) Certified Journeyman, and pioneer in the creation of the heart bar shoe for horses with laminitis, said people's chief reluctance toward sugardine was it seeming "too simple" a solution.
"Some thought any treatment must be complex or costly to be effective," he wrote in his 1989 AFA article, Using Sugar to Treat Those Nasty Wounds. Chapman urged his colleagues to try sugardine. Veterinarians and farriers nationwide reported as much as a 100 percent recovery rate, in less than 14 days, in thrush cases treated with sugardine. The only horses that experienced a recurrent problem, he said, "did so because of contaminated and unhygienic environments."
From Egyptian battlefields to modern equestrian sports, more than two thousand years of experience can't be wrong: sugardine is one recipe worth handing down to the next generation.
Excerpted with permission from LA Pomeroy