Writing an article about how to make a poultice has been on my to do list for a long time. Yesterday I was stung by at least six wasps. My feet, ankles, and legs are swollen so that I can’t walk. And since I am using poultices to get the swelling down, I thought it was a great time to finally talk about that.
So What’s a Poultice?
It’s a soft, moist mass of material (herbs, salts, charcoal, clay, etc) applied to the body to relieve soreness and inflammation. It’s kept in place with a cloth or bandage. It’s generally made of some sort of plant material or powder. However, I would also call a castor oil pack a poultice.
We generally think of medicine as something we consume, but plants can be used topically too! A poultice is a great way to approach the treatment of burns, splinters, cuts, bruises, acne, bites, stings, poison ivy, bacterial infections of the skin, sunburns, psoriasis, eczema, and even some chronic issues. When applied to the chest, poultices can be help the body deal with congestion. They are great on joints to soothe injuries or arthritis. So you don’t always have to ingest medicine. The skin is very porous and can be a great way to get medicines in and toxins out.
How to Make a Fresh Poultice
Poultices generally have one ingredient, so they are very simple. To make a fresh herb poultice, eyeball the amount you need by looking at the area that you need to cover. You want to make sure that the whole treatment area is covered because the healing effect typically isn’t generalized. So, if you leave out a quarter of an inch, you will have that tiny part sticking out that is still inflamed.
If the herb is edible and clean, tear it into bite sized pieces then chew it. You will see instructions for cutting it and crushing them with a mortar and pestle until it becomes a blobby mass. You can do that too, but I have found that there is something about mixing in saliva that brings out the healing properties better. Use enough water or saliva to make it wet, but not drippy.
Once you have your blobby mess, cover the area that you want to treat with it. Apply a bandage over it to keep it in place and to keep it from dripping all over the place.
How to Make a Dried or Powdered Poultice
Using dried or powdered herbs to make a poultice is just as easy as using fresh herbs. Fresh herbs are stronger, so you may need more. Just add a little hot water to release the medicinal compounds. Grind to make a paste and apply evenly to the treatment area. Cover with the bandage. Whether you are treating with fresh, dried, or powdered herbs, you will leave the poultice on from twenty minutes to overnight – depending on the issue you are treating.
Substances You Can Use for a Poultice
Activated charcoal – This is one of my favorite remedies. An activated charcoal poultice is great for any type bite, boil, or abscess. Just reapply every three hours until the pain, swelling, or issue is resolved.
Apple cider vinegar – Apple cider vinegar works well for warts. Just wet a bandage with it. Wrap the infected area. Sleep. Then repeat. This might take a few applications, but it does work. This also works for skin tags.
Cabbage leaves – This works great for mastitis. You don’t have to mash it up into a paste. Just apply the cabbage leaves directly to the affected area for mastitis. For example, you can put them in your bra.
Calendula – Calendula is a favorite among natural skin care lovers. It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties and can speed healing.
Clay – Clay is good for drawing out splinters or treating boils.
Onion – This is a smelly, messy way to get rid of a coughs, cold, or flu quickly. Slice the onion. Put it on the bottom of your feet, then put on socks so that the onion is in contact with your skin. Go to sleep and wake up feeling great! You can also use this on your chest for chest congestion. You want to replace the onion every 3 hours.
Plantain – Plantain is great for insect stings or bites. Since it’s found everywhere, you can chew it up and apply it immediately.
Salt– salt can draw out infections and abscesses. It’s not instantaneous, but it’s all natural and does work well.
Turnip – It might sound crazy, but turnip is a great food to use for bruising, rapid healing, and pain relief. I once used this on a goat after she had a really difficult birth. She was swollen like a pumpkin, but showed no signs of trauma at all by the next morning after the turnip poultice.
Share your favorite poultice success story below. What’s your go to poultice?