The Discovery of the Therapeutic Uses of Gunpowder

John  Clarke, the eminent British homeopath of the early 20th century championed Gunpowder as a powerful medicine for blood poisoning.   In a monograph on that topic, he wrote about how he learned of its curative properties from an article in a homeopathic journal:

"For the last forty years, " wrote Mr. Upcher, "I have known and observed from personal experiment the effects of Black Gunpowder as a remedy for various kinds of blood - poisoning. The symptoms of poisoning which call for Black Gunpowder are almost invariably abscesses or boils or carbuncles, and frequently, though not always, exaggerated swelling of the poisoned limb, accompanied with discoloration of the skin, so that the arm from the tips of the fingers to the axillary glands is almost of a purple or black tint. In such cases I have found Black Gunpowder, whether in large or small doses, acts like magic. "1

Mr. Upcher tells the story of how he came by the discovery. "My father, a country rector in Norfolk, used to add to his light duties in a small parish the recreation of farming the glebe, and as there was a good lot of pasture, kept sheep. He noticed that at the time of paring the sheeps' feet suffering from foot - rot, his shepherds were continually subjected to blood - poisoning, which was more or less (less. I fear!) successfully treated by local doctors. But it generally ended in the said shepherd having to give up his work and turn his hand to something else. However, at last there came a shepherd, who, year in and year out, never did get blood - poisoning!" This greatly astonished the rector, and he asked his shepherd how be accounted for the fact. The latter invited his master to come and see him at his afternoon meal, or "fourses" as the Norfolk people call it. He duly went, and found him sitting under a hedge eating bread and what looked like black cheese. "Why, Harry, " he exclaimed, "whatever are you eating? It looks like black cheese. " "No, master", was the reply, "that b'aint black cheese, but that is white cheese covered with black gunpowder, and that's what keeps out the poison, that's what dew the trick - I never gets no poison. "

In course of time this shepherd got promoted to a better position, and his successor soon got into trouble when the feet - paring season came round. The shepherd's arm was swollen and almost black from finger - tips to armpit. The Rector did not trouble the faculty this time, but undertook the case himself. He mixed a dessertspoonful of gunpowder in half a tumbler of water, making a paste of it first, and gradually adding the water afterwards, and administered the whole in one dose! Result - a brilliant and rapid cure. From that time on the Rector's shepherds took gunpowder with their cheese, and blood - poisoning disappeared.

But the lesson did not stop there. The Rector could not keep a good thing like that to himself, and as in duty bound, let his parish have the benefit of the discovery. "Many a time, " says his son, "have I been dosed, as a child, boy, and even young man, with the family patent medicine: boils, carbuncles, eruptions caused by suspected blood - poisoning, one and all had to climb down to the Black Gunpowder. " As with the family so with the parish - all conditions of men, women, and children, and even animals, were treated by the good Rector with the same remedy and the same success.

Rector II., the present Mr. Upcher, used the homoeopathic preparation of Gunpowder - the one with which I experimented on myself. This is at once more convenient and more pleasant than crude Gunpowder, and no less potent for curative purposes...

Now the great point about Gunpowder is that it has a broad and clear indication that hardly anyone can miss - blood - poisoning. Soldiers found it; shepherds found it; American - Indians found it. An ordinary cut or wound in a healthy person heals quickly. But if a morbid virus is introduced, or if the person's blood is impure or of low vitality, the part swells, suppuration ensues, and the limb may be threatened. Or if a limb is bitten by a poisonous snake, the same thing happens, only more rapidly, and the constitutional symptoms are more rapid in development. Or, poisonous matter of some kind may be introduced into the system by other ways - breathing foul air, drinking polluted water, or eating tainted food. The poison quickly finds its way into the blood - boils, carbuncles, eruptions, abscesses, or other manifestations appear, showing unmistakably that the blood has been poisoned. To all these conditions Gunpowder acts as an antidote.

1. Rev. Roland Upcher. "Notes on the Use of Gunpowder (Black). " Homoeopathic World in 1911,