The use of herbs for internal uses is easily appreciated by most people. It may be because teas, syrups, and extracts are more common and widely available in the market at present. This may also be attributed to the fact that people are so used to “taking in something” for any health or medical condition they may have. Topical herbalism or the use of herbs for topical purposes however, may also provide its own unique benefits in the management of the health of people across the world.
What are Poultices For?
Poultices and the topical use of herbs may be used for a number of different health conditions such as bruises, cuts, splinters, and burns. It can also be considered as a form of first aid for the said injuries or conditions. Herbal poultices may also be used to treat and address chronic or recurring health issues such as congestion, joint pain, and injuries caused by arthritis and other skin conditions such as shingles. As such, poultices can be considered as not only as a form of a simple first line of defense for the human body, but they can also be seen as a versatile way to handle a multitude of different health conditions.
Technically speaking, a poultice is just the direct application to the skin of herbs. To produce or come up a poultice, herbs are commonly ground or crushed into some form or pulp or paste before being slathered or spread to the affected area or skin. These poultices that have been applied to the skin is then held there using muslin or gauze. The general curative actions of poultices may also be altered based on the temperature of the poultices applied. Poultices that are heated can help improve the affected area’s blood circulation or flow. On the other hand, poultices that are prepared cold may be used to reduce inflammation. Adding other special herbs with unique properties may also help with improved circulation such as ginger.
Cons to Consider
A few of the cons of poultices is that they need more time than other health remedies to accomplish their intended curative effect and they can also be quite a messy treatment for patients. This is why the use of gauze is recommended for poultices and the long wait time for a poultice to actually affect the area it was applied to makes night time application ideal and more preferable for most patients.
Best Herbs to use for Poultices
Most known herbs can be utilized for poultice and the important thing to remember is that if the herb cannot be taken internally or ingested, then it probably should not be used as an herb in poultice either. People should also consider that poultice herbs are eventually taken up or absorbed by the skin and therefore, herbs that are considered as off-limits for pregnant women should also be off limits as a poultice herb for them. The same is true for other health conditions that may have adverse effects on patients due to some contraindications. Other herbs, such as angelica, may not be an ideal herb for poultices as it can trigger certain skin conditions in some patients such as dermatitis.
With the aforementioned information on herbs, there are a number of herbs that are considered as mainstays terms of poultice preparation. These include the root of burdock, leaves of dandelion, flower petals of calendula, the leaves and stems of chickweed, and leaves of plantain. Poultices are pretty simple to prepare and enumerated below are some of the ways to create poultices from fresh or dry herbs.
Making Poultice from Fresh Herbs
- Consider the type and amount of herbs to be used for the preparation of the poultice. poultice amount should cover the area it is supposed to be applied to or covered and so it will depend on the best guess of the person preparing the poultice.
- Chop up the chosen herbs into small portions using a chopping board. The herbs should then be transferred to a mortar and pestle to be crushed and eventually turned into pulp. During the said process, it is important to have the juices of the chopped and crushed herbs flowing. This will ensure that the natural juice of the herb will be released and that the herb’s leaves will much softer after the process. An alternative way of preparing this may via the use of a blender or a food processor rather than using a chopping board or a mortar and pestle.
- The prepared poultice may then applied liberally to the affected area or skin and it all depends on the individual as to how thick the application will be. The critical thing to consider here, though, is that the poultice is evenly applied across the affected area.
- The area with the poultice applied to it should then be covered or wrapped in gauze to ensure that the poultice stays in place and that the poultice juices are absorbed rather than making a mess.
Making Poultice from Dry Herbs
- Consider the type and amount of herbs to be used for the preparation of the poultice. The herbs chosen should then be mixed with hot water to have the herbs moistened. Powdered forms of root herbs are best for making a poultice and adding water can help them achieve the paste consistency desired in poultice making.
- Apply the poultice on the affected area
- Securely wrap with muslin or gauze