Nov 22, 2012

Poultices and Plasters

      A poultice is a wet herbal pack applied directly to an inflamed, irritated, swollen, infected or injured part of the body. While poultices are often made of fresh mashed herbs, they can also be made of the residue left after brewing tea.
     Poultices are usually applied cool rather than hot. Some herbalists recommend spreading a thin layer of olive oil or castor oil before applying the plant material. Use whatever will hold the poultice in place for several hours: bandages, plastic wrap, cheesecloth, muslin, etc. An elastic elbow brace or knee bandage can hold a poultice in place on arms and lower legs. A layer of plastic over the poultice helps prevent fabric stains.
    A plaster is a dry poultice made by spreading dry powdered herbs, or a thick paste made by adding a small amount of water over cotton or muslin fabric. Additional fabric is spread over the skin to protect it, as most of the herbs used for plasters can be irritating to the skin, such as mustard or cayenne. The plaster is held in place for several minutes, then lifted so the skin can be checked, and replaced if the skin isn't irritated. Plasters increase circulation and help clear congestion.