Introduction to Poultices & Plasters

, March 25, 2015 in Therapeutics

We would do well to reinstate the ancient art of poulticing as a valued healing tool in the modern herbal renaissance. As practitioners become more involved in providing therapy as well as dispensing herbal prescriptions, the line between clinical herbal therapist and folk practitioner will blur, with or without the approval of the orthodox health care community.

There is no need to wait for “scientific validation” when we have recorded over three thousand years of proven efficacy in traditional healing practices all around the world. In this spirit we will re-introduce three important poultices, their preparation and use for the benefit of practitioners who can then also teach these methods to their patients and families. This re-education process will help place personal responsibility for health back into the hands of the individual and create a more humane relationship between the professional and lay community.

Read more about the mustard poultice, the castor oil pack and the comfrey poultice which serve as a general introduction to the vast subject of external application of herbs.

Principles of healing related to remedies taken internally (i.e. tinctures, teas, etc.) are not addressed here, as these are patient-specific and the topic too vast for the scope of this paper. Poultices can be seen to be more generic and system specific ie.: the mustard poultice for the respiratory system (COPD), the castor oil pack for the digestive system, reproductive system and for the integration of the lymphatic, endocrine and nervous systems, and, the comfrey poultice for the musculo-skeletal and integumentary systems. Through the art of poulticing intimate contact between plants and people is established, and the healing process is brought home to a family setting with group participation, a perfect model of holistic healing.

There are many examples of common foods and plants used in folk medicine.


Infections, boils, tumours, – apply ¼ to ½ inch thick. Mix with hot water, herb tincture, or tea.

Cabbage Leaf

Remove rib and use rolling pin to flatten a few leaves to cover area. This removes poisons and pus. Change the poultice when it gets hot. It is an excellent poultice for cystic breasts.

Carrot Pulp

For sores, chapped skin and cracked nipples. You may use pulp from your juicer.


Boil in water for 3 minutes. Cut open and place over infected sore to bring to a head.


Press garlic into a mush. Mix with a small amount of water and flour. Good for pustulant sores and infections.


Peal and grate raw potato. This will remove stingers and pus. Good also for styes and some eye infections.


Chew or bruise raw leaves and place directly on bee stings or open wounds.

Bread and Milk

Soak a piece of baguette in milk and apply to splinters.


Fresh or rehydrated seaweed is wrapped around arthritic joints.


Fresh slices are placed over closed eyes to soothe and hydrate.

Used teabags

After brewing black tea place tea bags over irritated eyes.


Pour honey into open wound and cover with gauze and tape.