While a compress uses the tea or juice of herbs, a poultice uses fresh or dried herbs to be applied directly to the skin. Poultices help to sooth, heal and regenerate tissue, stimulate circulation and organ function, warm and relax muscles, and can draw out toxins and foreign particles from the skin. The most useful herbs to use as a healing poultice are listed below
Comfrey leaf to heal cuts or scrapes
Plantain leaf to sooth inflammation, burns and insect stings, or to draw out slivers and foreign particles
Chopped onion on the chest for lung congestion and bronchial inflammation
Mustard seed powder to stimulate circulation (caution – mustard seed can burn – mix with whole wheat flour and egg whites for prevention)
Witch hazel leaves and bark for varicose veins
What you need
Herb to be used (see above)
Blender or mortar and pestle
Large gauze or cheesecloth
Pick your own herb or buy it from a store, then wash, rinse and shake the herb dry. Blend or grind the herb to be used with distilled water to create a thick mash. Place the mashed herb in a large gauze or cheesecloth and fold it around the herb so that it is fully enclosed in a pouch.
Apply the wet herbal pouch to the area to be treated. Wrap it in rolled gauze to hold it in place. You may wish to wrap it again in plastic wrap to secure it better and to make it a less messy event. You can also apply a hot pack or hot water bottle on top (with a towel in between) for additional soothing effect and to aid absorption.
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