Just as you can apply a foot cream with active ingredients to relieve painful arches, applying a poultice with anti-inflammatory herbs and roots essentially brings the healing powers of the ingredients to where they are needed. To create a poultice, you would combine some powdered or powdered herbs (more on that below) with a transport oil or binder, such as flour or honey, spread the mixture on your skin and hold it in place with a piece of gauze or a cotton fabric.
“When something sticks, it slows down the flow of energy through the body, potentially causing inflammation and pain. “Adding a warm application of herbs can help restore this circulation.” —Giselle Wasfie, DACM
Poultices work by gently rejuvenating the flow of what is called τσι in TCM, or energy that travels along the body channels from the organs to the extremities. “When something is stuck or blocked, it slows down the normal flow of energy through the body, potentially causing inflammation and pain. “But adding a warm herbal application can help restore that circulation,” says acupuncturist and botanist Giselle Wasfie, LAc, DACM, founder of Remix Lifestyle, a Chicago-based acupuncture studio and product line. And in the middle of winter – a time that brings more tension and calm to the body as a whole, according to the TCM – a warming herbal poultice can be just as nutritious for the soul as it is for the body.
Who can use poultices (and restrictions you should be aware of)
Usually, poultices work best for inflammatory issues, says Dr. Wasfie. In particular, you are likely to feel the strongest healing effect for any irritation that is on or near the surface of the skin (where it is more accessible than the poultice), such as sunburn or bruising. That said, if you add heat to a poultice by covering it with a heating pad or using hot water to make the paste, you will naturally activate the herbs to be absorbed even more into the skin, says Dr. Wasfie, making this a more effective treatment to help relieve deeper inflammatory problems such as cough in the chest, joint pain or ankle sprain, with a few consecutive daily applications.
That said, for situations like these, Dr. Wasfie suggests seeking the care of an authorized TCM professional instead of self-medicating (especially if you have not used herbal poultice before). While research has shown the potential for topical application of herbs to help treat inflammatory conditions – and separate studies on individual substances such as turmeric, ginger and castor oil have shown their unique anti-inflammatory effects – a specific injury is always possible. more intensive type of treatment.
And because herbal poultices are topical treatments, Dr. Wasfie also suggests that you avoid placing them near any open sores or eczema to avoid a negative reaction. Although poultices are not known to interact with any medications, it is also recommended that you do not use any if you are taking heart medications or blood thinners and generally tell your TCM doctor about any medications you are taking and any underlying conditions. (In this area, Dr. Wasfie also does not recommend the use of poultice for pregnant women.)
How to make a herbal poultice to help solve 4 different conditions naturally
Before applying a poultice, Dr. Wasfie says do a patch test to rule out skin sensitivity: Just apply a small amount of the herbs or oils you are going to use on a non-irritated part of your skin and leave it there for a few minutes. If you notice any redness or other reaction, stop, remove the substance and wash the area with soap and water. If not, you can feel comfortable going out with a poultice.
Below, Dr. Wasfie shares how to make a herbal poultice that uniquely addresses four common issues related to inflammation. Once you find the one that suits you in a first application, you can use it daily to weekly, as you see fit.
1. For chest pain or cough: mustard seed poultice
Start by grinding the mustard seeds using a mortar and pestle (or just use a mustard seed powder) and mix with enough flour and warm water to make a paste. In this case, Dr. Wasfie suggests brushing the paste over the cheesecloth or gauze you will use and first applying a layer of non-oil gel to the chest or back before applying it to the poultice. Because mustard seed is extremely strong, it helps protect the skin while leaving the poultice in place for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. For bruises or swelling of the skin: frankincense and myrrh poultice
First, give either the bruise or the swollen area about 24 hours from the time of the injury (during which you could apply ice to reduce the swelling) before applying the poultice. After this point, mix organic frankincense and myrrh essential oils with either organic sesame or organic olive oil and a little flour or honey to thicken the mixture. Spread it on the area, cover it with a piece of plastic wrap and then place a heating pad over the poultice for about 20 minutes.
3. For period cramps: castor oil poultice
Start by mixing organic castor oil with moxa essential oil. (This comes from the same herb, the mugwort herb, used in TCM moxa treatments.) As with the above, Dr. Wasfie says you can turn the mixture into more paste by adding a little flour or honey if you feel it sloping. Then spread it on a cotton cloth and place the cloth on the lower abdomen, just below your navel. Lay on a heating pad and relax for about 25 minutes.
4. For pain related to arthritis, carpal tunnel and knee or ankle pain: turmeric or ginger poultice
Both turmeric and ginger are antioxidant forces that can penetrate the skin effectively when applied to a poultice and help resolve the deeper layers of inflammation that characterize these muscle aches. You can dissolve either turmeric powder or ginger powder in lukewarm water, apply the paste to cheese and cover the sore area with the poultice. (Just note that if you choose to follow the turmeric route, you could temporarily dye your skin a little yellow.) Place a heating pad over the poultice and sit tight for about 20 minutes.
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