A poultice is an old-fashioned remedy used to draw out infection and speed healing. Just as effective today, a poultice works by increasing blood flow, relaxing muscles, and soothing inflamed tissue. A poultice can help with joint pain, inflammation, boils and abscesses, sprains, sunburns, and a range of other conditions. Here's how to make a poultice:
1. Choose the herbs. A poultice can be made with dried or fresh herbs. Each type of herb has specific healing properties; choose one that is appropriate for your condition, to ensure that it will be effective. Common poultice herbs include: dandelion for skin conditions like rashes, acne, eczema, or dry skin; fenugreek or flax seed for inflammation; charcoal and lobelia combined to treat insect bites, bee stings, or wounds; mustard for tense muscles, inflammation, and swelling; onion for boils and sores
2. Make a poultice from dried herbs. Use a mortar and pestle to ground dried herbs into a powder. Then add enough warm water to form a thick paste. The amount of water and herbs it will take depends on the size of the affected area, as well as the absorption of water into the specific herb being used.
3. Make a poultice from fresh herbs. If you have fresh herbs that have not been dried, do not try to crush them into a powder. Instead, combine half a cup of whole herbs (about 2 ounces) with 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Simmer for 2 minutes. The mixture should become very thick. Do not try to drain the liquid from the herb mixture, although some water may be left in the pan when you remove the poultice.
4. Prepare the poultice for application on the skin. On a flat surface, place a clean piece of linen, muslin, gauze, or white cotton sheeting that is large enough for the affected area of the body. Spread the herb mixture onto the cloth.
5. Apply to the skin. Cleanse the affected area with hydrogen peroxide. Then place the poultice in the cloth over the skin. Wrap a towel around the area and pin it together to keep the poultice in place. Poultices work because the skin can absorb the medicinal benefits of the herbs within a very short period. Using a hot water bottle to keep a poultice warm may make it more effective.
6. Allow it to do its work. The herbal poultice should be kept on the skin anywhere from 1 to 24 hours. As the pain subsides, you can remove the poultice. Apply a fresh poultice as needed.
Poultices are an all-natural remedy for many different conditions. They can be done at home, although you should carefully research the herbs before deciding on one.