During my time working at Living Valley Springs Health Retreat in Australia, I witnessed the power of poulticing. The use of poulticing dates back to the 15th century. A poultice is a medical dressing consisting of a soft heated thick paste that is spread on a cloth and applied to the skin for therapeutic treatment. The thick paste may consist of but not limited to: clay and glycerine; flaxseed; slippery elm; vegetables carrot, potato, cabbage, mustard; garlic; onion; cayenne pepper; peppermint; oats; witch hazel; castor oil and charcoal.
The 8 conditions to consider application of a poultice include:
- Reduce inflammation: relieving pain, congestion and swelling of tissue
- Increase circulation
- Promote absorption, drawing effect
- Diminish tissue tension and encourage muscle relaxation
- Soften crusted lesions
- Stimulate healthy granulation of tissue
- Antiseptic or disinfectant effects
To briefly explain why a poultice works involves understanding of the largest organ in the human body being the skin. With 15 to 17 square feet of this tissue, the skin holds a large blood volume, providing wonderful potential for internal organ relief.
*Note: some substances if applied through a poultice may cause blistering or ulceration of the skin, for example, raw garlic, mustard. Addition of oil to a garlic poultice prevents this. The growth of bacteria in the case of an infection may be encouraged. If pus increases, discontinue poultices. The capacity of the poultice to retain heat is more important than the material itself.
Source: Home Remedies – Dr. Agatha Thrash & Dr. Calvin Thrash, 1981; Health with Clay – Paschale Maddison, 1999; Practical Home Healing – Margaret Wright, 1976
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