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Herbal Poultices

Herbal Poultices

Learn how to make an herbal poultice with fresh or dried herbs.

A poultice is an easy way to apply herbs to an area of the body. By placing herbs directly on the skin, you take advantage of the skin's ability to absorb the helpful properties of the herbs and the herbs' ability to draw from the skin. You can use fresh or dried herbs to make a poultice. Here's how:

pestle and mortarGrind dried herbs with a mortar and pestle and place in a bowl. Add just enough hot water to make a thick paste. If using fresh herbs, you can simply macerate the herbs to a gooey mass, or you can macerate and then simmer them in water for a couple of minutes, using about twice as much water as herb.

Spread the herbal paste over a piece of clean cloth that's large enough to cover the affected area of skin. (Gauze, muslin, or other light cotton fabrics work well.) Place this poultice over the just-cleaned skin, and then cover with a hot cloth. (To contain the mess you might want to wrap the whole thing with a towel.) Leave on for one to 24 hours.

For added effect, you can repeatedly warm the area by replacing the hot cloth or by placing a hot water bottle on it.

Herbs often put to use in poultices include: black walnut, chaparral leaf, comfrey leaf, dandelion leaf, elder berries, fenugreek, flaxseed, goldenseal, marshmallow root, mullein leaf, mustard, plantain leaf, sage leaf, skullcap, slippery elm bark, white oak bark, wormwood, yarrow, and yellow dock root. Onion and other vegetables and fruits are also sometimes used in poultices.

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