The long awaited soaking bath

Sometimes, if you want to work a wonder, there is nothing like a long soaking bath, and that’s just from soaking in water! Just imagine, if you added the wonders of herbs, infused and essential oils and other natural minerals, now what good could it do, and that’s just the aromas, but what if you actually hopped into the bath, double wow.

But seriously, a herbal soak or bath can do a lot of good, and I believe not only a lot of good directly to the body, but also to the mind and emotions. So having a good soaking or bath, is a true ‘holistic’ treatment’, as it affects the person in several different ways, not just one.

But there really is a lot more to a ‘soak’ than just hopping into a bath and putting in a few smelly things and away you go.

Now there are those who cannot afford a ‘whole’ bath load of water, due to reasons of location, supply, cost, and that they just don’t have one, amongst other possibilities. But, there is a very easy way around this problem, and they are your hands and feet. Now nothing seems to beat a full body soak, but for therapeutic benefits, you only need to soak your hands or feet.

The reason for this, is that the hot water actually stimulates blood circulation, due to the body moving blood to that ‘hot region’ in and attempt to balance the body’s temperature. As the circulation is being stimulated, the pores of the skin are opening up as it does when you are sweating, and then the benefits of the herbs can also move through, being distributed throughout the body.

Reasons why to have a Soak

One of the unique things about performing a soak or bath is that, even though you are trying to ‘get it through your skin’, the skin acts like a border control, managing and monitoring what and how fast things go through and into your body, therefore, it does provide some protection against an adverse effect.

A typical soak is very easy to organise, and this is especially true with hand and feet soaks, as a basic hand and foot soak only requires a few pieces of gear, which most people already have, keeping the cost down, and quick to organise.

Another reason why to have a herbal soak, is that if you are using certain herbs or oils, the aromas have their own therapeutic benefits, just as walking through a forest or flower garden, the aromas stimulate your senses, often adjusting your mood, therefore altering your very physiology and hormones, such as endorphins etc.

There is a gland found in the limbic system, which is about the middle of your brain, called the amygdala, and back in 1989 they found out that this gland stored and released emotional trauma. And, it is said that the only way to stimulate this gland is via ‘fragrance’, so if carefully chosen pure essential oils or herbs, such as rosemary are chosen, maybe the ‘tough’ emotional trauma could be healed? Begs thinking doesn’t it.

How to do Soak

Soaks or baths can be very simple to make or complex, depends on how ‘fancy’ you want to get, but even a simple one with just your feet can do much good, so don’t worry about getting fancy, but if you do want to try new things, then maybe you should get fancy.

The “very” basic process is this:

  • Boil a pot or saucepan of water with some herbs in it
  • Pour it into a bath
  • Hop in

And that’s it! I suppose you could get fancy and strain out the herbs before pouring it in, but there you go. Okay, okay, you probably should take some clothes off to.

When using fresh herbs, it is best to crush them before use, this is simply done by crushing them either in a mortar and pestle, under a rolling pin, or a bottle if you don’t have a rolling pin. This is especially so for a sitz bath.

One point that you should always adhere to with ALL types of baths and soaks, and that is to never use any soaps or detergents, as this will completely destroy the whole process.

A more detailed basic procedure for soak and baths

  • Prepare 1 Litre / 1 quart of a strong infusion or decoction
  • Pour it into a bath or large container suitable for either hands or feet
  • Do not go over 41C /105F
  • Soak for 20 minutes
  • Hop out and dry off and have some bed rest
  • It is best to do this 3 times per week

Rosemary or Lavender Bath

  • Prepare 2 Litres / 2 quarts of a very strong infusion with Rosemary
  • Strain out the herb and empty it into a hot bath (Deep enough to immerse the body in)
  • Soak in the bath for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Hop out and wrap yourself in a bed sheet still wet
  • Put a plastic sheet on your bed
  • Hop on your bed and cover up (You will sweat)
  • After the sheets have soaked up the moisture
  • Change into dry bed sheets and rest for an hour
  • Do this three times a week
  • You can use 30 drops or a dropper full of the tincture, but the raw herb is better.
  • Add 4 cups of epsom salts, to boost the affects (See safety warning below before using)

Choice of herbs for a Soak

The herbs that I am about to suggest, can also be swapped for essential oils at a rate of 10 to 15 drops to 1 Litre / 1 quart, of the mixture, not the whole bath full.

For raw herbs, a general rule of thumb, is 30 grams / 1 ounce of dried herb to 1 Litre / 1 quart of boiling water or 60 grams / 2 ounces to 1 Litre / 1 quart of boiling water. Boil them for about 15 minutes to make a strong decoction.

This is by no means a complete list:

  • Thyme, Peppermint: General tonic
  • Hops, Lavender, Lime flowers and Lemon balm: Encourages sleep
  • Lavender, Rosemary and Bergamot: Removes body odour
  • Chamomile Lemon balm, Passionflower: Hyperactive children
  • Valerian, Californian poppy, Chamomile, Damiana: Nervous stress
  • Mustard: Rheumatism (only 2 teaspoons)
  • Rosemary: Low blood pressure
  • Yarrow: Feverish

Variations of Soaking

Using a Herb Bag

To use a Herb Bag, is a simplistic system, but I find not quite as strong, where you place into a loosely woven cloth bag, such as, a muslin or nylon stocking, the herbs you want to soak in. Tie the bag at the top with a string or cord that is long enough to tie up the bag as well as tie to the bath tub tap. This is so that as the hot water is coming out of the tap filling the bath, it also runs through the herbs extracting the contents of the herbs.

A simple Herbal Bath Bag

A Sitz Bath

What is a Sitz or Hip bath, its simply where you ‘Sits’ in a bath, but in this case, it is only a shallow bath or container, which is just enough to sit in and bathe you ‘nether’ regions. It is used basically to treat the persons genitalia, infections, bladder infections, inflammation, prostate and haemorrhoids.

A sitz bath can be as simple as very warm water, or a complicated blend of herbs and oils, but either way, you only need to make enough that once you sit into the container, the amount will fully cover the area to be treated. If the bath is a bit too much to bear, but not too hot, then apply a cool cloth to the forehead, or stop.

Yes, sitting in a big bowl will look ridiculous, but it can do wonders and you will get quick relief, and promote faster healing too, something we all want. Sitz baths can be done several times a day too, and are great for Postpartum conditions, stitches and haemorrhoids.

Sitz bath Baby Style

The basic sitz bath procedure is to take 30 grams / 1 ounce of recommended herb, add that to 2 Litres / 2 quarts of freshly boiled water and allow to steep for 1 hour. Strain and pour into a container and just make sure that the levels reach the areas that are to be treated. Sit in it for 15 to 20 minutes, hop out and dry yourself off and wear loose clothing. This procedure can be done 3 times per day. Add more hot water if the bath loses its temperature.

If you have any dressings over a wound, you will need to remove this and replace once finished gently dried off and replace the dressing.

Another alternative if you are want to increase circulation, reduce inflammation and disinfect, is to make a solution by dissolving 0.5 grams of Potassium Permanganate crystals to 4 Litres of warm water (never hot), and make sure it is thoroughly dissolved.

A word of caution, do not spill ‘pure’ Potassium Permanganate anywhere on your body as it may cause harm, so wear gloves, but once diluted, it is very safe, also do not ingest it. Plus, it does stain, your skin and the bathtub/container for a while. It will not stain your skin ‘permanently’ as in, eventually it clears up, but the bathtub make need some hard cleaning.

My own supply of Potassium Permanganate, KMnO₄ otherwise known as Condy’s Crystals

Potassium permanganate, is simply called “Condy’s Crystals”, developed by a London chemist called Henry Bollmann Condy, and has been used since 1857 as a disinfectant, and is found in some chemists, and even rural produce suppliers.

Witch Hazel Sitz Bath

Make a very strong decoction with 60 grams / 2 ounces to 1 Litre / 1 quart of water, and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, strain and pour into 4 Litres / 1 gallon of lukewarm water. Sit in this mixture and soak for 20 minutes. This process will give great relief to swollen tissues, reducing pain and promotes healing. A tablespoon of either myrrh or calendula tincture or succus will help if there is any infection.

Seaweed Bath

A Seaweed bath is both nutritive and even sleep restorative, and can be used in both a bath or a shower.

Grab a handful of fresh seaweed, lightly wash out any salt and sand, place this into a stocking or muslin cloth bag, and use it as a sponge and rub yourself all over.

Skin Washes

Skin washes are made in exactly the same methods and strengths as those written above, but are usually in smaller quantities. Here, you may only want to bathe a small area of the body, say just a foot or elbow, for example. But most often a skin wash is applied with a soft wash cloth or cotton wool, to sore, infected and inflamed areas.

An example of this could be to use a skin wash for cystic acne, where you would make a lukewarm mixture and then gently rub a soaked, but not dripping soft cloth on the skin in circular motions stimulating circulation, this can be done several times a day and continue until healing has taken place.

Epsom Salts Soak

Okay, okay, Epsom Salts is not a herb, but frankly it is an excellent addition to soaks and can be simply used on its own. It is a natural mineral substance. It will assist in drawing out gunk in the skin or injury, and increase circulation at the same time.

It is said to help greatly with, infections that are slow healing, septicemia, wounds, open ulcerations, pustules, bed sores, as well as aches and pains. This is due to supplying magnesium, which most people are usually deficient, and the sulphur, which acts like a disinfectant. (It is best to see a health care professional or hospital with septicaemia.)

Epsom Salt Bath (Hand or Foot)

Sometimes a foot bath can do so much

Apart from assisting with improving blood circulation, and saving water if you cannot prepare a bath, a hand or foot bath is good for dealing with fungal and other types of infections in the skin, fingernails and toenails.

Mixing rate: 1 cup of Epsom salts to 2 Litres /2 quarts of hot water, maximum of 41C / 105 F

Alternating Hot and Cold

A way of greatly increasing the effects is to alternate from a hot bath to a cold bath. Here you make the hot bath as hot as reasonable, but not so hot as to cause harm, and a cold bath with some ice floating in it. First, you need to make up the mixture described above, for the hot part, the cold part only needs to be very cold water, as it works by encouraging the tissues and vessels to shrink. Over a period of 20 minutes, you need to alternate about 3 to 5 times from hot to cold, and ending up in the cold soak for a couple of minutes.

This system is excellent for those with athletic injuries, such as, sprains and strains, pulled muscles, tendonitis and back strain.

Full Epsom Salt Bath

A Full Epsom Salt bath is a great way to treat the whole body, and here you could swap Epsom salt with Magnesium chloride, but it is more expensive. It helps with aches and pains and soothes the nerves. Its an adjunct to those receiving cancer treatments, drawing out toxins. As well as improving circulation and increases the heart rate. (Magnesium Chloride is better for magnesium absorption and absorption through the skin is better than oral intake.)

Mixing rate: 4 cups of Epsom salts to a bath of hot water, maximum of 41C / 105 F, and 1/2 to 1 cup of Magnesium chloride.

Those who have hypertension and a low red blood cell count should not have a full Epsom salt bath, only a hand or foot bath.

Safety

  • The first and most obvious, is to not burn, yes, you want it quite hot, but not to cause harm or injury. Stop, if it’s hurting.
  • If you have hypertension and a low red blood cell count, you should not have a full Epsom salt bath,
  • Do not have very hot baths if you have congestive heart failure.


Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

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Herbal Panda

Nurse preparing a compress

From the Herbalists’ understanding, a herbal compress or fomentation (which is another name for a compress) is where a person has taken a piece of cloth, flannel, cotton or similar material and infuses it with ‘herbal solution’, which can be either a tea infusion or decoction, diluted tincture, or an infused herbal oil, or a diluted essential/volatile oil, or just castor oil. Then, it is folded to the size of the area of concern, an externally applied to area of the body that requires some form of treatment.

Some people confuse a compress with a poultice or plaster, but they are different in many ways, but the principle difference is that you are not using any herbal paste or mixture. To give an example, the most basic compress is to dip a towel into cool water, wring it out and place it on your forehead to cool yourself down. A poultice is when you make a thick herbal mixture or paste, possibly adding flours or oils, wrap it in a cloth to protect the skin and place that on the affected area to draw and/or stimulate or soothe.

To add further understanding and depth to this subject, we need to understand that there are both Cold and Hot versions. A cold compress, which is actually called a ‘wrap’, is used on fevers, (remember those old movies of people putting cloths on someone’s forehead?) headaches, skin, muscle and joint inflammation and sore throats, and cold compresses can be left on for many hours or over night. Hot compresses, which are specifically called fomentations, can also be used on swelling/oedema, colds and flu, sore and tired eyes, and much more as we will see.


Compresses are not to be confused with compression bandages, sleeves or stockings, which certainly have there uses to help reduce the swelling of a specific area, keeping fluids from accumulating usually at an injured site. Sleeves are similar, but are considered more ‘long term’ and for blood circulation management, for example, Deep vein thrombosis.

Compression bandages are typically used on sprains such as, wrist and ankles, strain, oedema, varicose veins, bruises and contusions.


Reasons why to use a Compress

A compress has several functions, and they are: to soften tissue, alleviate inflammation, stimulate and to moderate or reduce pain. Compresses can draw, but for serious drawing use either a poultice or plaster.

This treatment can be used for many conditions, such as, angry rashes, acne, irritable and inflamed skin, sore muscles, spasms, sprains and strains affecting muscles, as well as ligaments, tendons, and joints. It can help to move stagnant fluids such as, those around old injured joints that should have healed.

Also assisting in the removal of congestion, phlegm, and mucus, and other respiratory issues such as, coughs, colds, flus, and sore throats, as well as easing asthma and bronchitis. For cramps and menstrual cramps and other pains in the abdomen, lower back pain and pains and even strong pains.

By stimulating the circulation it helps with the conditions mentioned above, plus helping with swelling/oedema. (You wouldn’t use a hot compress on an immediate swelling) And if you know what your doing it can help during labour.

How to do Compresses

There are frankly so many different ways to use and apply a compress due to the many and varied methods, equipment and additives that can be used. So I will suggest some simple solutions, and I hope that they will help you get started, and remember, there are really is no ‘fixed’ way of doing this.

Choice of Herbs for Compresses

There is quite a range of herbs that can be used in compresses, below I have listed some you may want to try. Where it starts to get confusing, is what to use where and when.

Herbal Tinctures, Infused oils, Infusions or Decoctions:

  • Camellia sinensis (black, green or white tea)
  • German Chamomile
  • Linseed
  • Fenugreek seed
  • Plantain
  • Ribwort
  • Chickweed
  • Arnica (don’t use arnica on open wounds)
  • Comfrey
  • Elderberry
  • Irish moss
  • Slippery elm
  • Marshmallow
  • Marigold
  • Mullein
  • Hound’s tongue (Do not ingest Hound’s tongue as it is poisonous)

Material

Any fabric or material that is absorbent:

  • Linen
  • Cotton
  • Cotton wool
  • Flannel
  • Wash cloth
  • Small towel

Compress oils:

  • V-6 oil (A blend of 7 food grade oils, it has no colour, odour or stains.)
  • Castor oil
  • Vitamin E oil
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Linseed/flaxseed oil

Essential oils:

This can be such a huge range of possibilities depending on what you may want to achieve, especially if you want to add the special attributes of pure essentials oils. As you can influence many different systems, such as the digestive, emotional, hormonal, immune, musculo-skeletal, nervous and respiratory systems as well as the skin.

A short list of musculo-skeletal essential oils could be:

  • Basil
  • Celery seed
  • Citronella
  • Cypress
  • Eucalyptus
  • Balsam, Douglas and White firs
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender sage
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen
Range and affects of essential oils are great

How to make a basic Compress

Hot Compresses – Basics

Equipment you will need

  • A bowl, basin or suitable container
  • A towel or similar
  • Kettle or saucepan, if you are making infusions, decoctions or applying a hot compress
  • Herb, tincture or essential oil
  • A suitable sized cloth, cotton, flannel and similar, if you were in the bush, could you use bark?
  • Plastic cling wrap or oil cloth
  • Optional: something to hold the compress into place (this is not always needed)

Method

  • Place the towel over the bowl
  • Place your cloth or flannel in the middle of the towel
  • Push the towel and cloth down to the bottom
  • Pour in the infusion, decoction or diluted tincture mix over the top
  • Make sure it is completely soaked, give it couple of minutes
  • Whilst waiting for it to soak, rub some olive oil over the area as this helps with penetration of the heat
  • Bring the ends of the towel together and twist the towel in opposite directions
  • Squeeze out all the liquid
  • Open up the towel and take the cloth out and shake loose the cloth
  • Fold up the cloth to a size to the area concerned
You can now go several different ways:
  • Place the compress onto the area and either you hold or get the person themselves to hold it in place
  • Cover the cloth with cotton wool or similar, then wrap the cloth and cotton to the body with cling wrap or an oily cloth to hold it into place, then place a hot water bottle on top to continue the heat
  • If the person is lying down, then you can just leave the compress on the area and put a towel over that, and then add a hot water bottle

Ginger Fomentation

This one can be used for many of the conditions mentioned above.

Equipment you will need

  • Ginger root, about 5cm / 2″ of grated ginger
  • Saucepan
  • Grater
  • A cloth two to four times bigger than the area or several pieces joined together
  • Hot water bottle or heating pad
  • 2 Towels

Method

  • Make a ginger tea decoction from grated ginger and one litre of water in the saucepan and turn off the heat
  • While still hot, place the cloth into the decoction and allow to soak for 5 minutes
  • Carefully remove the cloth and squeeze out the liquid
  • Fold down to the size of the area
  • Quickly place the cloth onto the area being treated, but make sure its not too hot
  • Cover with cling wrap
  • Place the first towel over the plastic
  • Place the water bottle or heating pad on the area
  • Then cover again with another towel

This can be left on for 20 to 30 minutes, once it becomes cool it isn’t of use any more. Depending on the level of pain, you can ‘up-the-ante’, by making a larger batch, keeping the decoction on a very low heat, and having about four to five separate cloths, rotating these at a faster rate say every 5 to 10 minutes, or whatever the person needs. But try not to burn them!

Castor oil Compress

This can be used for extreme pain in most cases. I have personally applied it during the passing of gall stones. But it can be used on many other conditions, because the affect is deep, such as, cysts, warts, growths, detoxifying, helping liver and bladder disorders, but these will need to be repeated treatments over time.

Equipment you will need

  • Enough folded cloth or even towelling to make several 6mm / 1/4″ cloth pads
  • 500ml to half a quart of castor oil
  • Steamer or double boiler or something to apply heat to several pads in rotation
  • Towel

Method

  • Soak the pads in the castor oil, they just need to be moist, not dripping wet
  • Begin heating up the pads
  • Once they are hot enough, start placing the pads on the area for treatment
  • Cover them with a towel
  • Rotate them as each one begins to cool down

With this process, you will need to make sure you don’t burn the person. If treating pain, keep going to until the pain settles down.

Please remember, severe pain anywhere, should be seen to by a health care professional or please visit the hospital for medical advice.

Cold Compress – Basics

Equipment you will need

  • Cloth at least 2 times the size of the area concerned
  • Balls of cotton wool or cotton gauze approximately the size of the area you want to treat
  • A bowl big enough to fit the Cotton wool/gauze in
  • Cold infusion, decoction or diluted tincture to soak the cotton in

Method

  • Put the cotton wool/gauze in between the cloth and fold the cloth around the cotton, making a thick pad
  • Fully soak the cloth and cotton wool in the cold infusion, decoction or diluted tincture
  • Squeeze enough of the liquid out to prevent mess
  • Place the cloth and cotton pad over the area
  • Either hold the it on yourself or wrap a clean cloth around it to keep it in place
  • Do not wrap plastic around it as this will increase the temperature, when you want to lower it, meaning, you want to keep it cool to cold

Variations of Compresses

There are many, many variations with compresses, ranging from a cloth and cold water to a whole range of herbs, herbal combinations, to carrier and essential oils and application materials. Which means you can design one to suit you and the condition.

If you are using essential oils, there is a system called, ‘layering’, this is where you are attempting to input the affects of several different oils, one after another, ‘creating layers’. There would be no reason why you couldn’t rub on a diluted version to 15 to 30% onto the skin, place on the cloth, and once it has cooled, rub on a different mixture. Usually you would use three different essential oils.

Another variation to the herbal compress is the Thai herbal compress ball, this one is applied with massage. If you YouTube it, be warned, you’ll want one, … massage that is.

Thai Massage ball

Safety

Thankfully, Compresses are generally quite safe to use even on babies and young children, and cold compresses are even safer. But there are a few things you should consider:

  • With hot compresses, it must not burn, so always double check the temperature, especially with newborns and infants.
  • Always check for possible allergic reactions, most herbs are safe, but always use caution, particularly if using a new herb or oil. Two examples of this could be an allergy to ragweed, of which chamomile is part of, and peanut oil.

Essential Oils

Never apply pure essential oils directly to a newborn or infant’s skin, it must be well diluted.

  • 1 to 3 drops of oil to 1 tablespoon for infants
  • 1 to 3 drops of oil to 1 teaspoon for children two to five years old
  • Even with adults, essential oils should be used carefully, some can be used liberally, but if unsure, test first.


Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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The “Poultice” has been around for a very long time, exactly how long, I’m not sure, but it does have documentation that goes a fair way back, at least in ancient history, anyway.

One of the earliest written mentions I can find at this stage, is that there are two mentions of what could be called a poultice, (but it is not a poultice), is in the Bible. These two mentions are in 2 Kings 20:7 and Isaiah 38:21, both of these are speaking about the same event where a King called Hezekiah, had such a serious ‘boil’, that it threatened his very life. In the Bible it says: “For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover.” KJV.

Just a quick note, ‘plaister’ is the older version of the word – ‘plaster’, so I will use the modern usage here.

Difference between a Plaster and a Poultice

A plaster is usually made from freshly ground herbs, that are stimulating, such as, cinnamon, cayenne and mustard, mixed with a binding agent, such as, flour and water, using the herbs own volatile oils or adding essential oils, then spread onto a cloth and placed directly over the affected region. Yes, I know, that does sound like a poultice, but no.

A poultice is a lot more bulkier, which is made up of a herbal mash and/or powder, bound up in a ‘protective cloth’ or combined with a thick base material that is mucilaginous, that is ‘protective’, such as, marshmallow, slippery elm or mullein, and/or a ‘filling’ oil, (similar to a carrier oil in effect) and then it is placed onto the body. A principle difference here, is that a poultice uses stronger and more irritable herbs and may burn and uses a system to protect against the burning or irritation.

Therefore, a poultice is thicker, uses more stronger, healing and/or vulnerary herbs, and herbs that are mostly of a ‘cooling nature’, and a plaster uses more stimulating herbs with the effect of volatile oils, that are of a ‘warming nature’ and soothe irritation.


I do believe that the use of poultices has been around for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine for boils, infections of the skin and other infections, such as, abscesses plus burns. And also, they can be used for both external and internal conditions. (No, you don’t eat the poultice.)

Nicholas Culpeper also mentions poultices in his book “Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and English Physician”, which if you look closely, he is stating what is a poultice more accurately, ” Poultices are those kind of things which, the Latins call Cataplasmata, and our learned fellows, that if they can read English, that’s all, call them Cataplasms … They are made of herbs and roots, fitted for the disease and members afflicted, being chopped small, and boiled in water almost to a jelly; then, adding a little barley meal or meal of lupins, and a little oil, or rough sweet suet, which I hold to be better, spread upon a cloth, and applied to the grieved place.”

It is also interesting to note that he also goes on to state, “use no poultices, (if you can help it) that are of an healing nature, before you have cleansed the body,”.


Why you should use a poultice?

The poultice is specifically used to help draw or pull out, and this applies to infections, wounds and cysts, or to stimulate, to increase circulation to help encourage elimination, such as an old injury that hasn’t gone down. Or to cool and soothe, such as, a recent injury that is inflamed, either way, it should be promoting healing.

Poultices are great for all sorts of conditions, which are not very serious, and you can treat yourself at home. They can be used for muscle pain, oedema, bruise and sprains, osteoarthritis, rheumatism, boils and abscesses, wounds, fevers, mucus congestion of the chest, coughs, pneumonia, bronchitis and inflammation.

If you are using them for a serious condition, always use a health care professional.

If you are strongly idealistic as I am towards things natural, using where possible, organic or at least ‘more’ natural products, you honestly don’t know what is in some of those blends sold in chemists or supplied in hospitals.

Although modern medicine has many amazing things, which can be used in times of injury, and frankly, I’m glad that they are there at times, I personally prefer to use natural methods, that have been tried and found true.

And Honestly, there is something marvellous about tending to yourself and being self-sufficient. And I’ll ask you a simple question, what if disaster strikes and the world’s economy collapses or there’s another world war and medications are restricted? And then you or a loved one has an injury, what do you do?

But I will say this, that if you do have suspect that you do have a serious injury, please don’t hesitate to go to the hospital and have things checked out, as sometimes the damage is more serious than you think.

How to make a Poultice?

One the important things to remember as Mr culpeper said, fitted for the disease and members afflicted, meaning that with each and every condition, the major ‘hack’ is to choose the right herb or herbs for the job. Plus, different fillers and oils etc., can also make quite a difference towards healing and its speed.

Another thing to think about when choosing to use a poultice, or a plaster for that matter, do you need to make a hot or cold poultice, and what do I mean about that? You see, sometimes a situation will require a hot poultice, for example, does the condition benefit for increasing circulation, or would it be better to reduce inflammation, but alas, sometimes it appears to need both at the same time, but one will be better than the other.

You will need to make enough to cover more than double the size of the area of concern. So you will need to adjust your formula to suit. Further below, I have supplied a few recipes for basic poultices and one plaster.

Choice of herbs for a Poultice

So what herbs would you choose for “that” condition? I have listed just some of the many herbs, fillers and oils that can be use in both plasters or poultices. Yes, you can use them individually or in combination.

Herbs

  • Comfrey: fractures and ulcers
  • Linseed/flaxseed: infections of the chest, bronchitis and chronic cough, also, splinters, oedema, infection, pain and poisons
  • Bran: synovitis, sciatica and neuritis
  • Hops: boils, muscle pains, rheumatic panis, sciatica and neuralgia
  • Chamomile: muscle pains and neuralgia
  • Potato: sprains and bruises (used fresh and cold)
  • Slippery elm: ulcers
  • Onion: infection, inflammation, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, and congestion
  • Mustard: aches, sprains spasms – cold areas that need circulation, colds and flu
  • Black walnut: inflammation
  • Catnip: hives, sore breasts from breastfeeding and oedema
  • Chickweed: burns, boils, skin rashes and diaper rash
  • Chicory root: inflammation
  • Lobelia: inflammation, rheumatism and boils
  • Marshmallow: draws poisons
  • Ribwort or Plantain: draws poisons, infection and other foreign material
  • Poke root: boils, abscesses, caked breasts, and difficult urination (place over bladder region)
  • Wintergreen: inflammation, wounds, rashes, oedema, and toothache
  • Witch hazel: sores and wounds, sore eyes, bed sores, and exudative skin diseases

Fillers

Fillers are not just for filling sake, but assist in the drawing process, and keeping in the heat.

  • Barley meal
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Cornflour
  • Hayflower: this keeps it heat five times longer than a hot water bottle

Liquids

  • Water
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Mineral water

Oils

  • Vegetable oils
  • Castor oil
  • Olive oil
  • Suet
  • Lard

Combination Poultices

Generally poultices can be made with equal quantities of each herb, when unsure.

  • Boils and abscesses: Slippery elm and Marshmallow (to draw pus)
  • Lobelia and Slippery elm: oedema, wounds and ulceration
  • Chickweed and Slippery elm: inflammation
  • Blood poisoning and gangrene: Marshmallow and cayenne

Variations and additions

  • If you suspect an infection you can add a few drops of myrrh tincture.
  • To assist with pain, you can add arnica, but not on open wounds (I would rub arnica on after you have removed the poultice.)
  • Cinnamon, ginger and cayenne, can be added for extra stimulation, but give extra protection to the skin
  • Acacia can help with soothing and relaxing

Recipes

Advice before starting

Adding cling or glad wrap helps to hold in the moisture as once the poultice is dry, you need to replace it. More serious infections, wounds or ulcers, you need to have the poultice replace regularly, say 15 to 20 minutes, for “very serious”, even less, and keep changing through the night, but if it is not concerning, then you can leave it on for one to four hours, remember once its dry, its useless. Otherwise, put it on just before bedtime, and leave it on over night.

Linseed Poultice

  • Place 40 grams of linseed seeds in a blender or spice grinder and grind to powder
  • Place the powder into a bowl
  • Add 120ml of cold water and mix until it forms a paste (Usually a 1:3 mix.)
  • Spread the paste over the area to twice its size
  • Wrap cling wrap over the whole region
  • Wrap a bandage or similar to hold everything in place

Onion Poultice

  • Slice and dice 3 whole onions
  • Sauté until slightly soft
  • Place in a loosely woven cloth
  • Place over the region affected
  • Wrap in cling wrap
  • Wrap over with a towel
  • Place a heating pad or hot water bottle over the towel

Comfrey Poultice

  • Place 100 grams of comfrey root powder into a bowl
  • Carefully add hot water until the powder becomes a firm paste
  • Apply very thickly up to 2.5cm / 1″ to the area and further
  • Cover with cling wrap
  • And wrap a cloth or towel to hold in place

Mustard Plaster

  • Place 4 tablespoons of whole wheat flour into a suitable bowl
  • Add in 1 tablespoon of mustard powder
  • Slowly add water until it becomes a thick paste
  • Apply paste to area concerned
  • Wrap with cling wrap
  • Tie a cloth over the area to hold things in place

Added points

  • If the paste is somewhat irritating: add egg white instead of water
  • After removing the poultice, powder with some flour and wrap in dry cotton

Safety

Do not use comfrey on deep wounds or cuts as this speeds up the healing faster than the cleaning deeper in, possibly causing it to seal in infection.

Do not apply pure mustard powder or mustard oil directly to the skin.

If you are really desperate to make a poultice, for example, you are in the middle of ‘nowhere’ and cannot get medical help, almost any broad green leaf or herb will do, unless you’re allergic to it, the leaf is spiny, hairy, poisonous or very acrid.

If you suspect that you may have a serious injury or condition, please see your health care professional and seek medical advice. For example: one time I thought that my daughter had a bad bump falling off some playground equipment, so I rubbed some comfrey etc., on it, but she was still quite upset and wouldn’t settle down. So I thought, this seems more serious than a bad bump, so off to the hospital, and it even took them quite some time and several x-ray attempts to find the small green stick fracture.



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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