A poultice is a method of applying herbs to the skin. They are frequently rubefacient or drawing (ie. pull infected matter out of the underlying area), and there are a number of ways they can be made. You’ll see the detailed instructions below, however technically some saliva mixed with crushed herbal matter will do the trick in a pinch!

Examples of appropriate times to use poultices would include a mustard poultice over the chest for lung infections, or a slippery elm poultice over a wound to draw out the foreign body or infection. Note that poultices are always applied hot, and a compress is made in a similar way but applied cold instead.

How to make a Poultice

  1. Make an infusion or decoction
  2. Strain off the liquid and apply the wet herbs over the affected area (the herbs can be placed in a muslin bag or simply wrapped in piece of cheesecloth)
  3. Leave in place, covered with a hot water bottle.

Note: If the skin is sensitive or the herbs are very strong then you can apply almond oil over the skin first. A poultice can be left in place for several hours depending on the individual circumstances, but should always be removed if the patient expresses any feelings of discomfort.

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