How to Make an Herbal Compress

A compress is basically a cloth or a small towel that has been soaked in an herbal decoction or infusion and then applied to a painful area.

Use Comfrey for sports type injuries. St.John’s Wort and Rosemary for painful joints and low back pain. Chamomile is good for cramps and stomach pains. Peppermint is wonderful for strained muscles and so is dried Basil. Grated fresh ginger is wonderful for relieving painful swelling and redness from gout. During painful flare-ups, daily wet-packs of ginger will help. So will soaking the gout inflamed toe in a tub of warm water to which you have added a tablespoon of grated ginger and a tablespoon of Epsom salts. Soak until the water has cooled.

Rosemary leaves are excellent for relieving inflammation in swollen joints as well as the ginger. Try a combination of rosemary and ginger when preparing the water.

A compress is made by placing 1/4 cup of the chosen herb, either fresh herb or dried in a heat proof bowl. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the herbs and allow it to steep until the water is luke warm. Place a clean cotton cloth [ I prefer flannel ] or you can use a hand towel over the effected area, then ladle or spoon the warm herbs on top of the cloth. Cover this with another cloth. At this time you can place some plastic wrap over the cloth to help hold in the warmth. Keep the compress in place until the herbs are cold.

An easier method is to add 3 tablespoons of the dried herb to a muslin or sachet bag, tie it up, place in a bowl and add 2 cups of hot water. Stir and let the herbs infuse with the hot water. Dip a small cloth in the water, wring out slightly and lay the cloth over the effected area. This method is best when you are unable to soak the area, for instance an elbow or knee.

A few more suggestions when using a compress. Moist heat is always better than dry heat. For sore back muscles I like to apply a compress of peppermint and dried orange peel. Orange peel contains compounds that are anti-inflammatory and reduces muscle spasms. I also like to use a flannel cloth for covering the herbs while the compress is in place. You can buy flannel at any fabric store. Or make use of an old flannel shirt you no longer wear.

A compress is an old fashioned method of applying warmth, moisture and the healing compounds of certain herbs. It smells much better than sport creams and cost a lot less.

Blessed be, sweet ones.

~ Meadow Walker

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