Apr 282008

I really like to use simple, downhome remedies whenever possible, preferably made up of weeds and food. Here’s great poultice for swelling and inflammation can be rigged up with common items from your pantry and weeds from your yard. It can also be easily customized to individual needs.

1 Cabbage leaf
1 small Potato
Cooling, anti-inflammatory weed (like Plantain, Mugwort, Sweet Clover, Chickweed, Alder leaves etc.)
Appropriate tinctures (optional)

So, first grate up the potato so that you have a nice 1/2-1 inch thick covering for the injured area. Then get the weed and chop or mash it up before blending it with the potato. By the way, if you don’t have a potato, you could always use grated cabbage instead.

If you want the added horsepower of more herbs in a concentrated form, you can mix some powdered herb in or add a few squirts of a tincture in. So if you had a sprained ankle and wanted to take the swelling down and relieve inflammation while not reducing mobility (in the way that ice can) then you could use fresh Mugwort as your weed component of the poultice then add Goldenrod and Peach tinctures for added cooling power. It all just depends on what you need, and also whether the skin is broken. If the skin IS broken, you’ll likely not want the tinctures (stings like hell, but might be appropriate in some cases) and will prefer a great proportion of mashed fresh plant matter.

Next, you pile the potato/herb mix onto the affected area and gently mold it to the flesh. Then take a piece of cabbage or even a whole cabbage leaf if the area is large enough, and place it over the potato mush, ideally making sure the cabbage leaf extends beyond the borders of the potato/herbs. It can be left as is, covered in gauze and taped down, or you can just apply the tape directly to the cabbage and strap it on there. Be sure not to apply the tape too tightly.

In most cases, the poultice can be changed every 6-8 hours, but if there is serious inflammation or the poultice starts to feel hot then I like to change it more frequently, often every 1-3 hours for the first day and then adapt from there.

If you have pets, they may want to eat your poultice which I don’t recommend at all. In fact, I strongly suggest keeping it out of the reach of small children and animals, depending on just what you put in there. Also, be sure to compost the poultice when you’re done, you wouldn’t want anyone to mistake it for dinner 😉

Note: for children who won’t leave the poultice alone, a simple poultice of cooked mashed potatoes (hold the salt and butter) can be folded up in some muslin or a muslin bag and applied that way. Chopped or mashed fresh herb can be added once the potatoes have been cooked and then the mix sealed in muslin or cheesecloth. The plain mashed potatoes are useful for the two year old that tries to eat everything you place on his/her body. Whether you use the poultice warm or cool mostly depends on what you’re treating.

  6 Responses to “Pantry Medicine: A Simple Poultice for Swelling”

  1. O.K. That has to be the best blog picture I’ve seen in a while 🙂
    Thanks for the recipe, I’ve been looking for ideas to play with the fresh new alder leaves that just appeared this week. Hrrrm, now if someone would just get a minor injury around here…..

  2. LOL glad you like it, Shawna.

    You can have some of my household’s minor injuries to experiment with, they’re getting a bit out of hand for one herbalist.

  3. That pic is AWSOME!!
    I’ve been known to put poultice herbs in a big muslin bag( mashed up plant, powders, water, tincture etc), and then tie that on with what have you. Yours is much prettier!!

  4. thanks so much, I just sprained my ankle real bad, and ice isnt really helping.
    I’ll be sure to try this. By the way, do you have any idea of a helpful plant that grows
    in the tropics, I’m in Indonesia.

  5. This is wonderful. I can hardly wait to try it. I’m at the tail end of the recovery from spraining both ankles with a fractured bone in one of them. Now what I’m mostly dealing with is swelling … it’s the height of the hottest part of our summer, so that is adding to the situation.
    Thanks so much for posting this “recipe”!!!

  6. Had a friend send me this link. My husband just broke his leg. We are using essential oils externally and internally. I forgot about potato! My midwife had me make a poultice with it and some other herbs when I had hemorrhoids during pregnancy. Worked like a dream!

    Thank you for your message and your mission!

    Peace and Be Well,
    the Healthy Habit Coach

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