A herbal poultice is a wad of fresh (or dried but remoistened) herbs that is usually applied to larger injuries and designed to help with more internal issues such as broken bones, pulled tendons and strained muscles. Poultices tend to be a combination of herbs which will take away pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, as well as start the healing process in the affected area of the body.
While poultices, herbal salves, and remedies can be used to treat many things, there are times when a hospital visit is necessary. Treating an immediate bleeding issue by putting Cayenne on a wound is fine, but if the wound is severe, going to the hospital and getting stitches is usually the best course of action. The same applies to broken bones — applying salves or poultices to help the bone heal faster, and help remove pain is fine. However, don’t try setting the bone yourself and treating it completely home.
A compress is clean cloths that have been dipped in a herbal solution–usually an infusion or tincture. A compress can be used in two ways. A poultice can be held in place with a compress, or it might be placed directly against the skin. This type of compression is known as a fomentation.
Don’t assume that by using herbal remedies to treat common problems you’ll never have to visit a doctor or hospital again. There are some injuries where a trained medical specialist could mean the difference between life and death.
With that said, let’s look at some of the most useful herbal poultices you should know about.
An excellent multi-purpose poultice to use for cuts, wounds, abrasions, scrapes, swelling and pain from broken bones, sprains and infected sores: Goldenseal, Comfrey, Slippery Elm, and Aloe Vera.
Another excellent poultice which is great for helping broken bones to heal faster, as well as treating problems with joints, gout, or ligaments: Comfrey, white oak bark, mullein, black walnut, marshmallow, queen of the meadow, wormwood, lobelia, scullcap. These herbs would need to be mixed with mineral water, aloe vera juice or gel, or petroleum jelly before being applied.
Often poultices will still work well if you have at least one of the main ingredients. For instance, comfrey is needed to remove pain, repair skin and cell damage, and help reduce swelling. Goldenseal primarily helps with infections, and aloe vera helps to carry the herbs deeper into the multiple layers of the skin. Aloe vera also has it’s own pain removing and healing properties too.
Onion all by itself is excellent to use as a poultice for soreness, swelling and bruises. In the case of an ear ache, cut an onion in half and make hash marks across the top to release the juice. Put it in the over for a few minutes to hear up. Place the onion on the affected ear for as long as possible or until the pain subsides.
Herbs have a lot to offer in regards to our health, but to truly learn about herbs you need to experience them with your own senses. Trained herbalists can tell the best use for an herb by it’s aroma, whether it tastes bitter, sweet, etc. If you would like to learn more about the healing properties of plants, visit Herbal Energetics.