Prepare a Poultice
What is a poultice? A homemade poultice is made by mashing herbs, plant material or another substance with warm water or natural oils to make a paste. The paste can be applied directly to the skin and covered with a piece of clean cloth. If the herb used is potent such as onion, garlic, ginger, mustard, etc., you may want a layer of thin cloth between the skin and the herb. The cloth can then be covered with plastic wrap to hold in the moisture. The poultice can be changed every 3 to 4 hours or whenever it dries out. You can make a poultice to draw infection, treat boils and abscesses, relieve inflammation or a rash or simply draw the poison from a bee sting!
A compress is used the same way but usually warm liquids are applied to the cloth instead of raw substances. Tinctures or herbal infusions are great for compresses.
The list of ingredients to use for a homemade poultice is endless!
Some great "food" poultices are made with onion or garlic and potatoes or cabbage. Yes, I said potatoes and cabbage!
Onion and garlic are great for infections and for the treatment of insect stings and bites, as well as bruises, sprains, and strains. While, potatoes and cabbage can be used to treat inflammation and even arthritis pain.
Plantain (the herb not the fruit) is a favorite poultice ingredient, both for its ability to soothe infections, eczema, rashes and even acne. Another wonderful herb is yarrow (Achillea millefolium), the leaves of which can be used on deeper wounds. Ideally, a poultice should be kept on overnight and reapplied as often as necessary.
As an emergency remedy, the old-fashioned method involves picking some leaves, chewing them up, placing the paste on the affected skin and covering it with whatever cloth is handy. If your need isn’t an emergency, you can harvest the plant, herb or root, grind it into a fine powder, add warm water to make a paste, apply it to the skin and cover it with a warm hand towel and tie it with a cotton cloth to keep it all in place. This works especially great with comfrey (Symphytum officinale).
The beauty of a poultice is that it can be made in the field on the fly. Almost any broad, green leaf will work to some extent in soothing the skin and drawing out undesirable elements from the wound. Traditionally, comfrey poultices are used to heal bones, wounds and traumas to muscles and other tissues. Because it causes such rapid cell proliferation and healing, though, a comfrey poultice should never be applied to deep wounds or puncture wounds, as there is a possibility of the skin healing over an infection and sealing it in.
Naturopathic Lifestyle Educator and Wellness Coach, Sonja Upham, received medical missionary training and lifestyle education at Uchee Pines Lifestyle Center in Alabama and Hallelujah Acres in North Carolina. She moved from her position as Webmaster and class lecturer at Uchee Pines back to North Carolina where she serves as Assistant Health Ministries Director at her local church, and Co-founder of HeavenScent Wholistic Health, along with her husband Dave. Furthering her education she attended Global College of Natural Medicine, receiving her Master Herbalist and Holistic Health Practitioner certifications. She is currently working towards her doctorate in Naturopathy.