How to Make Healing Poultices

Sally Painter
Female business owner mixing herbs and dried flowers in apothecary shop

You can learn how to make an ancient healing therapy, poultice (cataplasm) for various ailments. Most poultices include healing herbs and have a warm and moist porridge consistency that increases healing blood flow to the applied area.

Mustard Poultice

You may have heard of mustard plasters or poultices and wondered what ancient technique was used to make these. The mustard herb makes a great poultice that's very simple to make and has proven results for helping treat aliments like bronchitis and chest colds. You can use mustard powder or grind mustard seeds to make your own powder.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup mustard powder or 2/3 cup of mustard seeds
  • 1/3 cup flour (any type of flour)
  • Water or olive oil or other natural vegetable oil (enough to create paste/batter)

Supplies and Equipment

  • Measuring cup
  • Mortar and pestle (if using mustard seeds)
  • 2 thin 100% natural cloths (large enough to cover chest)
  • Plastic film wrap (optional)
  • Heating pad (optional)
  • Bowl
  • Fork
  • Spatula
Mortar and pestle with mustard seeds

Directions for a Mustard Poultice

The goal is to create a poultice that has the consistency of a batter that you can spread easily over the cloth. Adjust amounts of mustard powder and flour for children or larger adults.

  1. In the bowl, mix the mustard powder and flour with a fork.
  2. If you're using mustard seeds, use a mortar and pestle to pulverize the seeds, then measure 1/3 cup. Add and pulverize more seeds if needed.
  3. Add enough water or oil to create a batter like a cake or pancake batter.
  4. Mix with the fork.
  5. Open one cloth and flatten it onto the kitchen counter.
  6. Spread the poultice batter onto the cloth.
  7. Smooth out the batter using a spatula or flat knife, so it forms a rectangle shape large enough to cover the chest.
  8. Fold the cloth onto itself and fold over the ends to prevent the poultice from spilling out.
  9. Cover the chest with olive oil or other oil/grease to protect from heat blisters.
  10. You will place the side of the poultice that's against the counter onto the chest.
  11. You can use a sheet of plastic film wrap on top of the poultice or another cloth to protect your heating pad.
  12. Set heating pad to medium heat (adjust if becomes too hot).
  13. Allow poultice to remain for 20 minutes.

Mustard Poultice Tips

Make sure the heating pad setting isn't too high. If it grows uncomfortable, reduce the heat setting on the heating pad. Your chest will become very red as the blood rushes to the heat source. Be careful not to blister the skin from the interaction of the heat and mustard. Repeat every 12 hours if needed. For more severe infections, such as pneumonia, you may need to use a poultice more often. This video demonstrates how to make a mustard powder poultice using flour and water.

Rosemary, Comfrey and Goldenseal Wound Poultice

If you have a wound that is infected, you can use an herbal blend poultice to quicken the healing process. You can use fresh leaves or purchase powder forms of these herbs.

Ingredients

Supplies and Equipment

  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Small bowl
  • Food processor or mortar and pestle
  • Spoon or spatula

Directions for Wound Herbal Poultice

  1. Place rosemary, comfrey and goldenseal leaves in a food processer.
  2. If you're using a mortar and pestle, crush leaves together until well blended.
  3. Pulverize until blended into a paste.
  4. Pour herb paste into a small bowl to thoroughly mix.
  5. If the herbs are too dry, you can add a 1/8 tsp of olive oil or water.
  6. Apply poultice directly to the wound.
  7. Wrap with gauze held in place with gauze tape.
  8. Leave in place for 12 hours.
  9. Remove and repeat if necessary, until wound begins to heal.

Comfrey Poultice

A comfrey poultice is an ancient remedy for broken bones and bruises. In fact, the herb also goes by the name of bone knit. Its healing properties can also be used for any type of burn, muscle injury, cuts, and abrasions.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 fresh comfrey leaves (reduce number of leaves if working with small wounded area)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil or other vegetable oil

Equipment and Supplies

  • Food processor, blender or meat tenderizer
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • Cheesecloth or bandage gauze
  • Gauze bandaging tape
Processed sorrel

Directions for a Comfrey Poultice

You can use either a food processor or you can pulverize the leaves with a heavy utensil like a meat tenderizer. The goal is to release the natural comfrey juices.

  1. Place the comfrey leaves in the food processor or blender.
  2. Pulse until the comfrey is a paste.
  3. There will be some liquid, which you'll want to use.
  4. Pour comfrey paste and liquid into the bowl.
  5. Add oil and stir until well blended in a paste.
  6. Spread the poultice over the injured area.
  7. Wrap wound with gauze and tape in place.
  8. Another method is to spread the poultice onto the gauze and cover with another layer of gauze, then apply to wound.
  9. Leave overnight or for a minimum of 6-8 hours. Repeat treatment until wound healed.

Dried Herb Poultices

You can use dried herbs for a poultice if you don't have fresh ones. While the poultice won't be as potent as fresh herbs, if you're in a bind, it's good to know you can still have an effective herbal poultice with dried herbs. The upside is your preparation time will be significantly less.

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons dried herbs
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons hot water to reconstitute herbs

Equipment and Supplies

  • Measuring spoons
  • Small bowl
  • Fork or spoon for stirring

Directions for Making Dried Herb Poultices

You can use these instructions for any type of dried herb poultice you wish to make. The amount of herbs may need to be increased depending on the size of the area you need to cover.

  1. Measure out the desired amount of herbs. You will need to use enough to spread evenly over the wound or infected area.
  2. Add enough hot water to soften and reconstitute the herbs. Be stingy at first and add water as needed. Continue until the herbs are softened and pliable. Use a fork to stir.

Using Herb Roots in Poultices

The best way to use roots in a poultice is to pulverize into a powder form. It you aren't using fresh roots, you can use a prepared organic powder form. You can apply the poultice directly to the affected area or place it between two layers of cheesecloth or gauze.

Garden Instant Poultices

There may be times when you don't have time to prepare a poultice using a food processor. For example, you may be in the garden and need a fast remedy to an insect bite or sting, such as a mosquito attack.

Instant Lemon Balm Poultice

You can grab a handful of lemon balm and bruise the leaves with your hands to release the oils. Next, apply the makeshift poultice to the bites and wrap garden twine around it to secure in place or use a bandage. The added benefit is lemon balm is a natural mosquito repellent.

Any Herb for a Makeshift Poultice

Any type of herb can be used for a quick makeshift poultice for any circumstance when instant relief is needed. You can then carry the herb leaves into your house to make a more substantial poultice using water and/or oil with proper bandaging.

Conditions Treated With a Poultice

Poultices are commonly used to treat a number of mild conditions including:

  • Congestion
  • Aches and pains
  • Skin conditions and rashes
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • Boils
  • Acne
  • Minor skin irritation
  • Insect stings
  • Bruises

Boiled Fresh Herb Poultices

Poultices from fresh herbs can also be boiled to release the oils. This type of poultice takes a little more time to prepare. If you wish to extract more oils from herbs, this might be the method you prepare.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 to 1 cup of fresh herbs
  • 1 cup of simmering water

Supplies and Equipment

  • Measuring cup
  • Small saucepan
  • Chopping knife
  • Gauze
  • Plastic wrap
  • Towel
  • Safety pin
Combining and blanching greens in pan with boiling water

Directions for a Boiled Herb Poultice

  1. Chop 1/2 to 1 cup of herbs.
  2. Place in a pan with 1 cup of water.
  3. Bring the water to a simmer, and simmer for two minutes.
  4. Don't drain the herbs, but do remove the excess water.
  5. Place the herbs on a piece of gauze.

Applying Poultice

  1. Carefully wash the affected area before applying the herbal paste.
  2. Place the gauze on the clean, dry, affected area to cover it.
  3. Wrap the poultice with plastic wrap.
  4. Wrap a towel around the poultice and secure it with a safety pin.
  5. Keep the poultice in place as prescribed.
  6. Replace with a fresh poultice as needed.

Herbs Commonly Used in Poultices

There are a number of herbs - both fresh and dried - that can be used to prepare a poultice. You can use any of these recipes provided to make a poultice from any herb.

Dandelion

Dandelion can be used in a poultice to treat disorders of the skin, including acne, eczema and itching. It can also treat psoriasis and rashes. Use the leaves or root of the dandelion plant.

Elderberry

An elderberry poultice can be used to relieve hemorrhoid pain and itching. Boil elderberry leaves following the boiled poultice. Drain and add 1 - 2 tsp of of linseed oil, blending well.

Lobelia and Charcoal

The combination of lobelia and charcoal can be used to take the pain out of insect bites and stings. Use equal parts of each herb when making a poultice.

Mullein

A mullein poultice can treat a sore throat, lung inflammation and hemorrhoids. Use either leaves or flowers. To make the poultice, use warm apple cider vinegar instead of water or olive oil.

Mullein, Verbascum thapsus extract with fresh and dried leaves

Sage

Sage leaves can be used to help relieve breast pain and general inflammation. Use either the general fresh or dried herb poultice recipe.

Sage and Vinegar

This preparation can be used to treat bruising. Create the poultice using boiled fresh herb poultice recipe. Substitute the water with apple cider vinegar with the Mother property. Simmer for five minutes before applying as a poultice.

Slippery Elm and Lobelia

This powerful combination of slippery elm and lobelia leaves is used to treat pain, especially rheumatoid arthritis. You can add equal part of these two herbs for a poultice.

Learning How Make a Poultice Is Easy

Poultices are simple to make and can relieve mild symptoms ranging from congestion to inflammation. If more severe symptoms are present, or if symptoms aren't relieved by the poultice after a reasonable time, you should contact your doctor or health care provider.

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How to Make Healing Poultices