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Before really learning about the different herbal remedies, I remember hearing “compress” and “poultices” and then thinking they were one in the same.
Well, over the years, I have come to understand that compresses and poultices are similar, but not the same.
Compresses and poultices are excellent remedies to be used in acute (sudden onset) illness situations because they often provide quick relief from symptoms.
How to Make a Compress
A compress uses a soft cotton cloth dipped into either a hot or cold herbal infusion – this is based on the treatment necessary for the ailment. The cloth is then applied externally to the affected area. Learn how to make an infusion by clicking here…
Compresses can be used to successfully treat chest congestion, strains and sprains, inflammations of all kinds, and sunburns.
To make a compress, we must:
- Prepare a very strong herbal infusion or decoction (depending on the herbs used).
- Dip the cloth into the liquid and saturate it completely.
- Apply compress directly on the affected area and keep it on for 30-45 minutes.
- Dip the cloth back into the mixture and repeat several times a day, as needed.
A few herbs commonly infused and used as a compress include:
Arnica. As a compress, arnica acts as an anti-inflammatory and excellent reducer of pain. It is a wonderful herb to have on hand for minor bumps, bruises, aches and pains. However, it’s important to note that it should never be used on broken skin.
Chamomile. Ahhh…chamomile. Most often used as a relaxant, chamomile is also an antihistamine that has an anti-inflammatory effect when used as a compress. It can be used externally to treat minor cuts, scrapes and abrasions — it’s also beneficial when used for managing eczema.
Peppermint. A peppermint compress is a wonderful treatment for headaches. It’s also helpful for relieving the pain that comes from muscle sprains and strains.
How to Make a Poultice
A poultice is another remedy that is used externally; however in this case, the plant material is mashed or grated and made into a paste that is directly applied to the ailment.
In first aid situations, we use poultices when treating stings, bug bites, rashes, burns, sprains, and skin eruptions.
To make a poultice you should:
- Prepare the herbs by mashing or grating and then mixing them with just enough water to make a paste.
- Apply the paste directly on the ailment.
- Cover with a clean piece of flannel cloth or sterile bandage.
A few herbs commonly used as a poultice include:
Chickweed. Used for the treatment of extreme itchiness of the skin, a poultice made from the chickweed can easily help in soothing the affected area of the skin.
Plantain. Plantain is a common weed — often found growing in the wild — that has great drawing power. A plantain poultice is perfect for use on bug bites and bee stings.
Lemon Balm. A lemon balm poultice can be used on minor wounds in order to prevent infection. It’s also great for use on cold sores, scorpion stings, and insect bites.
What type of compresses and poultices have you used?