Using Healing Herbs – How To Make A Homemade Poultice For Healing

Mortar Bowl Full Of Herbs
(Image credit: unpict)

When it comes to using healing herbs, we often think of teas in which various leaves, flowers, fruits, roots, or bark are steeped in boiling water; or tinctures, concentrated herbal extracts that are generally taken orally.

We may forget about the many benefits of herbal poultices, simple herbal treatments used for various discomforts since ancient times. Homemade poultices are useful and they’re surprisingly easy to make. Take a look at the following information and learn the basics of how to make a poultice.

What is a Poultice?

A poultice is simply a way to apply herbal matter directly to the skin. Typically, the herbs are mixed with water or oil and applied much like a paste. If the herb is particularly potent, such as with onion, mustard, garlic, or ginger, the skin may be protected by a thin cloth, or the herbs might be placed in a cloth bag or clean sock.

A homemade poultice can be somewhat involved or extremely simple. For example, you can crush a leaf between your fingers, place it on an insect bite or other inflammation, and secure it with an adhesive bandage.

Herbal poultices may be hot, which increases circulation in the area, or cold, which can quickly relieve the pain of a sunburn or the sting of an insect bite. Certain herbs can fight infection, reduce inflammation, draw poison from the skin, relieve aches and pains, or soothe chest congestion. 

In order to work, the herbal poultice must be close to the skin so the beneficial compounds can effectively permeate the tissue.

How to Make a Poultice

There are numerous ways to create a homemade poultice and making them effectively is an art worth studying. Below are a couple of very simple examples:

One easy way is to simply place fresh or dried herbs into a muslin bag or a white cotton sock, then tie a knot at the top. Soak the bag or sock in a bowl of hot water and knead it for a minute to warm and soften the herbs. Apply the warm sock to the affected area.

You can also mix fresh or dried herbs with just enough cold or hot water to moisten the plant matter. Mash the mixture to a pulp, then spread the thick paste directly on the skin. Wrap the poultice with plastic wrap, muslin, or gauze to hold it in place.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is for educational and gardening purposes only. Before using or ingesting ANY herb or plant for medicinal purposes or otherwise, please consult a physician, medical herbalist, or other suitable professional for advice.

Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.