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Dilute Hydrochloric Acid Therapy

  In regard to fighting pathogens with nontraditional strategies, there are several  non-antibiotic therapies that may offer much value in a modern world where our advanced antibiotics are becoming more and more ineffective against even the common microorganisms that have mutated.  In my racing and training past, my horses' lethal experiences with infections were not helped by the antibiotics my vets offered as their top of the line defense measures. They might as well have been injecting water. They were useless and my horses died any way. I have been much disillusioned with how modern veterinary medicine can fight infections that have gone systemic or that attack young animals with compromised immune systems.  As long as an animal has a sound operating immune system and is neither too young or old and the infection has not gone systemic, most of the time our synthetic antibiotics seem worthwhile. Go out of that perimeter and you better watch out!

     I have long been intrigued by the innovative work of two physicians of the early and mid 20th century with Dilute Hydrochloric acid. They were Burr Ferguson, MD and Walter B. Guy, MD They each have authored books on the subject. Also an excellent compilation of the work of these two gentlemen by Henry Pleasants, Jr., MD of articles appearing in The Medical World's Three Years of HCl Therapy (1935) has proven a wonderful resource for this subject. For those of you unfamiliar with Dilute Hydrochloric acid, I plan to go into great detail on its subject in my book, but will only relate here a brief synopsis on how it came about, what it can do, and my experiences with it in treating a goat that had amputated its lower digit from a fence accident and a calf that had sustained unresponsive bovine pneumonia and frostbite.

     Just let me start out this subject with the declaration that the injection of Hydrochloric acid or any acidic solution for that matter directly into the bloodstream will bring looks of horror from most any health professional which you may ask. It is simply never done! Any pharmacist will tell you that injectables are always buffered to a neutral pH in their preparation for injection. They will say that injecting an acidic solution will cause hemolysis and who knows what other damage? This is most certainly why a dilute hydrochloric acid protocol has never been appreciated by the medical establishment, even back in the 1920s and 30s when it was widely publicized and tested. Just the mere thought of an acidic solution being injected intravenously is enough to destroy the average physician's confidence in any hearsay clinical successes. I urge you on this page to ignore one's first response to declare this protocol a quack procedure. I have studied it well and I have used it. It works and more importantly, it is protocol that exhibits a wide tolerance quota against mistakes. I urge you to read this .pdf on

Three Years of HCL Therapy (excerpts between 1932-35)

     The medical establishment in the 1920s and 30s were aghast at the use of HCl acid as used by Ferguson and Guy. A lot of negative editorials appeared in the medical journal, JAMA. Most cited that hemolysis (destruction of the blood cells) was the main reason to avoid this experimental practice. Dr. Ferguson's response:

"Since the J.A.M.A. has so frequently given the opinion that injection of 1-1500 hydrochloric acid was dangerous in the great hemolysis following its intravenous use, I decided to look for danger in this case, which I had done many times before. So I gave 10 cc intravenously, 1-250 putting the remaining drop of blood in acid solution on a microscope slide at the finish of the administration of the injection. Nowhere could one see any change in the contour of red cells. According to the opinion from Chicago (JAMA),  I should have seen destructive change, but I did not."

     Dr. Ferguson discovered that injecting dilute solutions of Hydrochloric acid could result in many infections being overcome resulting in successful recovery. This was back in the day when our modern antibiotics were yet to be discovered. Penicillin only came onto the scene around 1940. Ferguson and Guy were doing their work in the 1930s and earlier. Dr.Ferguson is an interesting chap and to understand how he developed this therapy is informative. While working with mercury and arsenic compounds around 1913 as injectable substances in the form of salicylate of mercury and Salvarsan, Ferguson discovered that both were extremely effective against skin infections. Before I lose you on this one, note that the use of mercury and arsenic were very common during this time period, though very much detested by many people because of accompanying side-effects. Needless to say, modern practitioners are shocked that mercury or arsenic were ever employed, but it cannot be denied that these two toxic compounds did cure in many conditions. The thing was, both of these substances had never been given as injectables until just recently in Dr. Ferguson's career. He started injecting salicylate and curing patients. Healings were promptly stimulated by these injections.  He later practiced in the US Army during WW1. Though he was assigned to an administrative military office, he occasionally treated stubborn skin infections successfully with injectable salicylate. After being demobilized in 1919, he joined the American Red Cross for work in Siberia. He again found many opportunities to use his injectable salicylate on slow healing wounds after amputations, furunculoisis and unknown infections--all with surprising results as he writes. Later he was ordered to Albania to investigate a malaria epidemic. Once there, he treated specific malaria cases with injectable saliyclate and this time also Salvarsan. He felt that his treated malaria cases when compared to traditional treatment with quinine, cured faster and was superior. He wrote: "There appeared to be no reason for such results but I felt that there was some unusual explanation that my mind was not yet able to grasp."

     In 1923, a U.S. Consul in England was suffering from an infection of his axilla glands which would not heal after five weeks of treatment. Dr. Ferguson was called in and immediately resorted to his tried and true salicylate injection resulting in the infectious lesions immediately responding. The dressings were thrown away the next day! Finally, upon consultation with another physician on the mystery of why salicylate  seemed so effective, Dr. Joe Doyle came up with the possibility that salicylate injections stimulated the white blood cells resulting in the relatively new concept of immune response of phagocytosis, the engulfing of microbes by phagocytes. Dr. Ferguson immediately took this insight and started experimenting with blood counts and  injections. In cooperation with a pathologist, he injected himself with salicylate mercury. Ferguson's white blood cell count before the injection was 9000. Twenty four hours later another wbc count was completed which showed 18,600. Other similar experiments were completed with volunteers with exactly the same results of increases in white blood cells. Further more, Ferguson discovered that white blood cell stimulation was not just limited to salicylate, but injected novarsenobillion, quinine, bismuth, milk and plain old distilled water all stimulated the white blood cell count upon injection. Rightly or wrongly, Dr. Ferguson concluded that "...all injected agents derived their powers from a stimulation of natural defensive forces of the body." Certainly, this was an outlandish conclusion for the times and even today, but there may be some truth to this! The power of doubling the white blood cell numbers should not be overlooked, even in these modern times!

     Shortly after this work, Dr. Ferguson happened to run across a used copy of Metchnikof's Immunity in Infective Diseases in an old book shop in Rotterdam. This text offered Ferguson the scientific proof that he was on the right track. He was elated and in 1923, he journeyed to the Public Health Service in Washington DC with news of his discovery. He was told in no uncertain terms that his ideas were too revolutionary and that more tests were needed, at least 10,000 cases. Ferguson was disappointed in this reception.  He also found resistance to his new discovery back in England. The prevailing thought was that antibodies were the prime immune reaction to fighting infections, not the white blood cells. It was felt that increased white blood cell numbers were only an indication of infective disease being present, nothing much more. It had been proven during this time period that both Mercury salicylate and arsenic were not specific germicidals for syphilis alone, yet both seemed to benefit a recovery in this disease. The problem was, no lethal effect on bacteria could be shown in the blood stream by mere contact with mercury or arsenic. Also, Metchnikof proved over 25 years previously that a culture medium containing anthrax, cholera and other similar harmful organisms were not affected by accepted toxic substances like mercury or arsenic. One can only conclude that it was the increase in white blood cells from the body's immune system that was the effective determinant to fighting infection, particularly in the affect of mercury or arsenic on syphilis and not a germicidal affect.

      In 1926, Ferguson started treating gonorrhea at the Hillman Hospital. All cases coming to the clinic were treated solely with injectables to stimulate the white blood cell counts. 350 cases were treated with excellent results. Of these 350, one third were acute and cleared up in 5-6 weeks. Most of the chronic infections with histories of 6 months to over 5 years cleared up after about 40 injections. A 1% Mercurochrome solution was being injected at around 8-15cc with good results but the white blood cell count was not maintained as well after its use as with arsphenamine. Also, white blood cells were stimulated with intramuscular injections of salicylate and bismuth. During this period of using mercurochrome and arsphenamine, Ferguson saw too many reactions in his patients to make him happy with their continued use. By chance, he received a card in the mail announcing a lecture by a Dr. Granville Hanes on his new treatment for pruritus ani, and he attended that meeting. Dr. Hanes lectured how he injected Hydrochloric acid at 1:3000 dilution under the lesions of this anal infection for very consistent good results. Dr. Ferguson experienced one of those Eureka moments! Hydrochloric acid was the substance he had been looking for all of these years! Ferguson knew that Hanes was stimulating the white blood cell count resulting in his successes. Dr. Hanes had attributed the use of HCL to some unknown factor of the acid. Ferguson immediately took this knowledge back to the lab and found that Hydrochloric acid injected at 1:1500 in 10 cc doses, intramuscularly, produced a white blood cell increase of 2500-3500 in one hour. He felt that Hydrochloric acid was completely safe with no contraindications. After all, it was a naturally synthesized body acid produced in the stomach. He immediately started further testing.

     He quickly determined that the problem with intramuscular Hydrochloric acid injections was the pain for the patient. Dr. Ferguson decided that there was no reason why this HCL solution could not be given directly into the vein and he injected himself and two others. He quickly found that an intravenous injection did no harm, nor was there any reaction and it was painless. Thus, began his years of clinical practice with injectable Hydrochloric acid in various strengths, mostly 1:2000 to 1:500 at 10 to 25cc amounts. It has proven uncannily effective against all sorts of infections, severe pneumonias, septicemias, malaria, typhoid fever,  pain relief, tetanus, smallpox, venomous  bites, anthrax, and some cancers. For more detailed case studies, one should study their books. I won't go further into Ferguson's successes.

     I first tried dilute hydrochloric acid injections on a young goat that had decapitated a front hoof in a fence accident several years ago. I mainly wanted to see if HCL could keep the amputated digit free of infection and how the goat tolerated HCL injections both IV and IM. I treated the animal for approximately two weeks in a dirty barn environment and found the amputated limb to be surprisingly infection-free throughout. The nanny was soon sold to market which ceased my experimentation of this particular subject. This nanny showed no ill effect from intravenous injections of 1:2000 dilution of Hydrochloric acid in dosages up to 10cc. I did a few intramuscular injections and as I suspected, the goat showed symptoms that this route was rather painful, stinging. If I planned to do many IM injections, I would mix the dilute HCL with a local anesthetic as recommended by Dr. Ferguson in his text for a more humane administration. It could also be given subq (subcutaneous).

      My second subject was a beef type calf which was dropped during a snow storm on Feb. 28, 2009 to a mother that was "dry". He was soon taken off the old cow and bottle fed with frozen colostrum and formula. He soon developed pneumonia with fever and labored breathing, characterized by thick mucus exudate from both nostrils. Initially, the broad spectrum antibiotic,  Baytril© was injected with improvement. Two weeks went by with the calf again developing pneumonia. When I saw him, Baytril had just been given a second time and he was laying in the sun, head and neck extended forward on the ground with labored breathing. He would curiously open his mouth every 10 seconds or so in an opening and shutting motion with gulping of air. Edema was seen in all four ankles with the left hind the most severe. His temperature was taken which showed 106*F degrees (normally approx 102*F). To the best of my experiences of the past, this calf showed all indications of being close to death. There was no improvement 3 days after the second round of Baytril. However, he did exhibit an encouraging strong appetite and sucked his bottle well when encountered.

Nostrils were caked with thick mucus exudate. He showed very labored breathing with a temperature of 106 degrees F.  until day 4 of my HCL treatment in which breathing eased.

This calf"s lower legs showed edema in all four ankles and pasterns with the left hind being the worse. Photo taken on day 4 of my HCL treatment.

     My diagnosis was pneumonia complicated by joint ill with the joint ill possibly being mistaken for frostbite. My nephew talked with his vet who gave him a hopeless prognosis at this stage, particularly if either joint ill or frostbite was involved. Accordingly, I was allowed to start a dilute Hydrochloric acid protocol. I started out with a 1:2000 dilution of Hydrochloric acid and gave him 4 cc subcutaneously on day 1, then I went every day with approximately 5 cc of a 1:500 dilution, intravenously, for the next 8 days.  By day 5 on this regime, the calf was breathing normally with no distress and the mucus nasal discharge quickly cleared up in the later days. Temperatures were decreasing every day toward a normal 102 as well. The left hind ankle was not improving with increased edema and the beginning of a skin lesion which was the frostbite line of demarcation between living and dead flesh. With the calf's ear tips shriveled and the appearance of a line around the pastern, frostbite was almost a certainty now. I wish he had joint ill! I really think dilute Hydrochloric acid could have overcome that type of infection. I doubt HCL could do much for frostbite other than prevent gangrene.

Eight days later from my previous photo, this was the frostbitten ankle on day 12 of my HCL treatment or day 26 of the calf"s age exhibiting the frostbite line of demarcation between living and dead flesh.   I was treating it with a DMSO/turmeric/cayenne  paint and bandaging along with HCL iv and Colloidal silver/DMSO drenches.

Conclusions / Outcome

     It has been approximately 72 days since this calf was dropped in the snow on February 28th and he is still flourishing with a good appetite. After overcoming two serious bouts with pneumoniaŚno doubt partly a response to inadequate colostrum intake, his lower left hind digit auto-amputated as expected from frostbite complications. Note that my nephew (calf's owner) did not want to put this calf down despite the amputation, because he felt that the calf showed no indications of being in undue pain, nor was it lacking in a robust appetite for the milk replacer. We decided to carry on and see if nature could enact a cure with us helping to stimulate her in the proper direction. Ideally, this calf should have been taken to the vet for a high surgical amputation with a proper closing of the stub with a flap of skin. For economic reasons, my nephew was unwilling to do this.  I, being a student of wild health, knew that many times, wild animals seemed to heal remarkably well out in the wild, away from man, presuming they can keep away from predators. I wanted to see how Mother Nature would perform on this calf plus I wanted another subject for further dilute Hydrochloric acid study.

     I have continually treated this calf throughout this period with dilute Hydrochloric acid injections primarily intravenously and at a dilution of 1:500. So far, I have given over 24 separate HCL injections. To the best of my experience, I am certain we would have lost this calf after it succumbed to pneumonia a second time on March 14th had it not been for dilute HCL injections initiated on the 16th. Baytril given on the 14th did not seem effective for this second infection but, then, was only given once. Anal temperatures of 106 continued to be maintained 3 days after Bayril with no lessening of lung distress. I initiated HCL on the 16th. The first week of dilute hydrochloric acid injections protocol was every day during his pneumonia phase. His pneumonia symptoms seemed to quickly abate in days with improvement being seen each day. The following week, I went to an every other day regime for the next two weeks. Lung distress and lung infection symptoms disappeared plus the amputated wound showed no signs of infection. During the week of April 12th, I lengthened the HCL injections out every third day with this being implemented until May 6th   primarily to guard against gangrene or sepsis from the amputated digit. During this time, I was also applying a DMSO/turmeric paste to the bottom of the stub and dressing it in fresh aloe vera syrup & comfrey root paste to try to maintain a wet healing environment without causing epidermal saturation and destruction. The stub's wound to this date seemed to show healthy angiogenesis and granulation.

     So far, I am very enthusiastic about the potential value and safety of Dilute Hydrochloric acid therapy! Not only was it a life saver for the above calf, but it seemed equally valuable upon my previous goat patient. I regret not having it in my pharmaceutical arsenal for my equine patients that succumbed to infections in my past career. I think that Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Guy were on to something, and dilute Hydrochloric acid was prematurely put into its grave only by the new discovery of penicillin and accompanying later modern antibiotics. I feel that dilute Hydrochloric acid can fight many infections wonderfully while at the same time avoiding the side-effects often seen in antibiotic therapy. I saw no evidence that this calf's GI tract was the least bit altered by HCL use. I am afraid; I could not say the same for the common antibiotics. Not only did HCL seem to quickly stop a lung infection (probably a biofilm), it maintained the tissue health of an unclosed wound in a dirty barn environment. May the value of Dilute Hydrochloric acid come once again to the forefront! I will continue testing.


A photo of the raw stump on April 28th.  I am employing a wet healing enviroment to stimulate granulation.

     Below are photos taken of this calf on July 17, 2009 (4.5 months after calving) with the animal seeming to be healthy and flourishing. The amputated stump has healed up nicely as pictured below. The calf does rely on the amputated leg for balance, support, and mobility to some extent, but it is not raw from such use. When the below photos were taken, he was out grazing.  I think this is an amazing example of how mother nature will often take care of her own if given half a chance. No special surgical intervention was applied to this calf such as dissection and suturing of skin flaps over the open metatarsus's distal end joint. Epidermal tissue formed over the open joint end on its own.

     Note that the treatment of this calf's wound also involved intensive daily topical wound treatment and dressing changes. I always keep fresh aloe vera growing in my house the year around which allowed me access to the fresh aloe juice in the winter time. I initially took several plants, placed them in a kitchen blender to chop up the whole plants. I then placed the chopped up fresh syrup into plastic sandwich bags. I placed the raw stump directly into the sandwich bag with an unsecured top. This allowed measured free circulation of air while avoiding the healthy tissues from becoming water saturated. To hold this loose, open ended bag in place with the stump inside, I placed a sewed canvas "sock" which was suspended from the hock with elastic straps and suspender snaps. This whole contraption allowed for air to circulate and was used for several months. When Spring arrived with newly growing herbs out in the field. I switched from my indoor aloe vera to using common plantain found growing in the fields. I was also painting the lower stump and raw areas with DMSO/comfrey root tinctures to speed up healing throughout this process before applying the sock and plastic bag. Later, after I ceased daily use of the sock and bag allowing the stump to be unprotected out in the open, I went directly to applying the over-the-counter wound preparation, Cutheal for another month. 

     This is an example of the sock and bag,  I used to keep the herbal wound dressing on the raw stump in position throughout the first few months. I wanted a configuration that allowed for some air circulation which would keep all but the raw damaged tissue regions from becoming water saturated and causing further tissue degradation. This seemed to work and was changed daily. The sock material was sewed from old twill pants and suspended in place by two elastic rubber bands with suspender type snaps on the ends. The plastic bag contained various chopped herbal material which was suspended and held in contact to the raw wound by the sock without closing off air circulation.  Unfortunately, I do not have the homemade suspension harness available to photograph, but you get the picture of how it would hold the sock in place with a top strap wrapped above the hock with two suspender type snaps hanging down  fastened on each side of the sock.

Other cases:

March 26, 2012. . . . . . . . . A month old calf appeared one morning very weak with scours. Temperature was normal. It refused to stand and could be easily caught. From years of experience, death seemed a likely scenario, if something was not done. I injected 6cc of a 1:500 dilute HCl solution into the left jugular and within 1 hour, calf was alert and standing and sucking. Next day, it could not be caught for a follow-up treatment.  Five days later, calf seems well.

April 23, 2012. . . . . . . . .A twin calf was given to my nephew by a neighbor, who thought she was sure to die, if nothing special was done.  Calf had a 2░ temperature, scours, and nasal mucous discharge.  She was also very thin, showed signs of locomotor ataxia, and appeared very weak. I gave her 8cc of a 1:500 dilution of HCl acid, iv, that evening. The next day, she was much improved and taking the bottle from my nephew. A week later, she seems well on the road to recovery and survival!

March 1, 2014..............We were given a twin heifer from a mother cow that rejected her during a cold snowy day. Her appetite was very poor and she just didn't seem right. She would lay flat on her side like a dead calf and she exhibited about a 1░ in fever. I decided to give her 5cc of a 1:500 HCl injection that afternoon and the next morning she was back to her vigorous self. In about two days, she was back to not eating and not being quite "right". I gave her another 5cc resulting in renewed vigorous appetite for her milk replacer, but this time, she started exhibiting some swelling around the navel! Perhaps there was a low grade navel infection that was overlooked and only made obvious by HCl treatment, since HCl stimulates white blood cell mobilization and localization? This produced the edema in the navel area after the 2nd treatment! She is back to normal and the navel edema is slowly lessening. So far, only two injections were required.


     When it comes to treating frostbite in calves or any livestock for that matter, it never really occurred to me how valuable DMSO could be even though I have long used DMSO for all types of conditions. DMSO has long been known to protect tissue from freezing. In Dr. David William's book, "DMSO, The complete Up-to-Date Guidebook"  (1993), he writes this:

"DMSO's first major use was to act as a type of antifreeze to preserve tissue. Keeping this n mind, it should come as no surprise that it can perform miracles on frostbitten tissue. In one animal study, if DMSO was applied prior to the tissue freeze, damage was practically nonexistent. Amazingly, humans using DMSO up to 24 hours after the freeze showed total recovery without any gangrene or necessity for amputation. DMSO should be applied within 12-24 hours of the freezing, however, it works even better if applied before freezing. A 70-90% solution seems to work best prior to a freeze. In acute incidents when it is necessary to apply the DMSO after the freeze, a soak may be indicated."


    You can bet next time I have have a frostbite calf, DMSO will be one of the first things used both topically and IV!

     Finally in conclusion, I would like to copy the conclusion from the book, The Medical World's Three Years of HCl Therapy (1935) as their summary of this work cannot be improved upon so many years later:


In conclusion we wish to emphasize the fact that hydrochloric acid therapy is by no means to be considered as a panacea for human ills. That it is a potent remedy in certain cases is an admitted fact; that it is a powerful germicide is unquestioned, but it remains to be proved how its action in the body affects metabolism whether by changing the hydrogen-ion concentration of the lymph; whether by stimulating the flow of lymph, and permitting more nourishment to reach the individual cells of the body; whether by activating the essential enzymes of important metabolic processes; whether by increasing the electrical potential in the phagocytes and facilitating their engulfing of bacteria, or by merely stimulating the production of phagocytes by chemical changes in the blood. All of these important considerations are worthy of extensive research, and, it is to be hoped, this research will be undertaken by competent and unbiased scientists. In the meantime, however, the simplicity of this remedy, its low cost of preparation, its availability, its wide range of usefulness, and its absence of toxicity, even when given intravenously, make it particularly well adapted to the use of the resourceful practitioner who desires to add another powerful weapon to his armamentarium, and who is willing to fight for the lives of his patients even in the face of criticism and skepticism on the part of some of his colleagues. The reports of the further experiences of red-blooded, two-fisted open-minded and fearless exponents of this new-old remedy will write a vivid and dramatic page in medical history.



There are few contraindications when using dilute HCl. However there may some cases where it is not wise to use. For example, in cases of leukemia, it is doubtful it may be of use and may stimulate wbc production to huge numbers. Obviously, it is poor medical judgment to give a remedy that will aggravate the condition being treated. Another, condition to be on guard of is any condition that can be aggravated by an increase in pus or abscess formation. Naturally, if the infection is found in an area with limited drainage capability, one may get dangerous pus formation. One example would be an inflamed appendix. Conditions in the middle ear and sinus may be another dangerous area that should be carefully considered before giving HCl.


Link to  Townsend Letter on Dilute Hydrochloric Acid Therapy

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