Nov 23, 2012

Compresses and Fomentations

      A compress is an application of cold herbal tea on a saturated towel, diaper or thick cloth. Use medicinal strength infusions or decoctions for this purpose. To treat a fever, chill a strong peppermint tea, then soak the cloth and wring it just until it stops dripping.
     The compress should be wet enough to stay cold for several minutes. When it warms to body temperature, soak it again, adding ice as needed to keep the tea cold. Repeat until the treatment has lasted 15 to 20 minutes. Dry the skin gently. Chamomile tea bags are an example of cold compresses. For sore or swollen eyes, brew strong chamomile tea using two or more teabags and just enough boiling water to cover them. Let stand, covered, until cool; add ice or store in the freezer or refrigerator until cold. Then lie down, relax and place a saturated tea bag over each eye. Alternatively, brew strong chamomile tea, strain it through cheesecloth or a paper coffee filter, chill it, then saturate cotton makeup-removal pads, cotton balls, a washcloth, cheesecloth or other fabric and apply the compress. Repeat as desired to relieve the itchy swelling of eyes during hay fever, colds or allergies.

     A fomentation is a hot compress. Fomentations increase circulation and help clear respiratory congestion. Wearing rubber gloves, saturate a thick cloth with strong, hot, strained tea; wring it gently, then unfold it to let it cool slightly. You don't want it to burn or scald, but for best results it must be as hot as possible. Test the temperature against your inner arm. When it's hot but not too hot, apply it to the desired area and cover with a thick folded towel to retain heat. Re peat after 5 or 10 minutes. For best results, reapply for 15 to 30 minutes. Obviously, this and any other treatment should be discontinued if the person becomes uncomfortable or if the skin becomes irritated.

   A strong decoction of fresh grated ginger can be applied to the sinus area to clear congestion. For extra benefit, try adding a pinch of powdered mustard or a few drops of eucalyptus, wintergreen or tea tree oil.