How to Make Herbal Compresses and Poultices

Herbal compresses and poultices are applied topically. They are commonly used for muscle aches and pains as well as inflammatory conditions whether muscular or on the skin (such as eczema or psoriasis). They are also used for bronchial congestion and many other things as well.

Herbal Compress’s are just a cloth pad that has been soaked in a warm (or cold) herbal extract and is then applied to an area of the body.

Generally one would use an herbal infusion or decoction, but you can also use 1-4 teaspoons of an herbal tincture to 2 cups water.

For the cloth, choose a soft cotton or linen. Cotton balls can be used for smaller areas and surgical gauze can work well too.

Soak your clean cloth in the hot liquid and squeeze out any excess. Hold it against the affected area on the body. Repeat the process when the cloth cools or becomes dry.

General Info

Herbal Compress: Infusion, decoction or tincture of choice


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Herbal Poultice: Fresh herb, or powdered herb of choice. Also, surgical gauze or strips of cotton to hold the poultice in place.

Both: cloth pad (soft cotton or linen) or cotton balls for smaller areas.

Herbal Poultice’s are very similar to herbal compresses. The main difference between a compress and a poultice is that a compress uses an herbal infusion, decoction or tincture, whereas a poultice uses the whole herb.

Boil enough fresh herbs to cover the affected area in a small amount of water for 2-5 minutes. Squeeze out any extra liquid and spread the herbs onto the skin. If the herbs tend to want to stick to the skin you can put a little oil on the skin first, this will help prevent the herbs from sticking.

Hold the poultice in place with clean gauze or strips of cotton and replace with a fresh poultice every 2-4 hours.

If you do not have fresh herbs available you can use decocted dry herbs or mix an herbal powder with a small amount of water to make a paste.

Do you have a favorite Compress or Poultice Recipe? Share it here and try someone else’s favorite too!


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