Herbal Poultices and Compresses

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-13 (EDT)

See Also Naturopathic Therapies
See Also Botanical Medicine (Herbalism)

Compress: A compress or fomentation is an excellent way to apply a remedy to the skin to accelerate the healing process.[1] Compresses are prepared by soaking a folded, soft cloth - made from either of linen, gauze, cotton wool or cotton - in a very strong tea (1 tablespoon (15ml) of herb per cup (240ml) of water) that is used hot or cold, depending on the situation. The compress is placed over an injury or on the forehead to ease a fever or headache. If using a hot compress that you may want to cover the clother with plastic and a hot-water bottle to increase the length of time that it remains hot.

Herbs that make good compresses include: vulnerary, stimulant and diaphoretic herbs.

Poultices: Poultices are similar to compresses, the main difference being that solid plant materials, such as fresh or dried herbs, are used versus liquid extracts. The plant materials are applied directly onto the skin or they are placed between a thin layer of guaze. It is common to apply a thin layer of oil to the skin prior to placing the herbs on it to protect the skin and to ease the removal of the herbs.[1] Dried herbs must be made into a past by adding either hot water or apple cider vinegar until the righ consistency is obtained. Poultices have been used for centuries to draw pus out of the skin. Common ingredients used in poultices include: cabbage, bread and milk and potatoes.

Herbs that make good poultices include: vulnerary, astringent, demulcent herbs, such as Burdock, Comfrey, Flax Seed, Marshmallow Root, Oatmeal, Quince Seed and Slippery Elm Bark.

Check out further information on botanical medicine and therapeutic forms of herbs.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hoffman David (1996) The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal, A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies. Element Books Limited. ISBN 1-85230-758