Healing Goddess: How & Why to make a Herbal Poultice

by Leonie Dawson on March 20, 2009

Hola gorgeous Goddesses!

I wanted to share with you all the hows and whys of a gorgeous ancient healing practice I discovered this week. Exciting, no? I completely am :) I’m wedged between two sleeping puppehs, in my studio, with the afternoon light pouring in… ready to type type type about herbal healing. Hurrah!

First, story time!

So a few days before I was booked in for my ultrasound, I was out on our usual Saturday morning breakfast, library & shops tour with my beloved. (I don’t think I’ve mentioned in the last two days how much I adore that man. I really, utterly do.)

*Anywaysies*, we were out in the parking lot between Favourite Breakfast Hangout and Best Library Ever, and I said to Chris:

Hon, I need to find some books about herbs. I just keep getting this idea that I need to, like, warm up a herb, like chamomile or something, and put them in a warm cloth and wrap it over my boobs.

And he says
sounds good
like it’s the most normal thing on the earth for him to hear. (See why I adore him so big? He just thinks all my crazy ideas are perfectly normal.)

Collecting the wisdom

And so we go to the library, and I make him carry back to the car huge armfuls of herbal textbooks.

We get home, open all the curtains for the light to come in, and I curl up on our couch by the windows to do some study. I’ve never really looked into herbs before. I’ve got women sisters who are herbal healer women, and I drink a lot of herbal tea (I probably keep Celestial Seasonings afloat with my purchases of Tension Tamer tea) – but I’ve never really learned much more about them. Until now.

And I’m reading through the tomes (check out the GoddessGuidebook Book Recommendations place for the books), and I find this:

Herbal Poultices

Herbal Poultices are ground herbs that are placed in boiling water, strained, and placed in cotton or muslin. This fabric is then placed over painful areas for healing. Different herbs are used for the different kinds of healing needed.

And I started, and thought.. WTF? That’s exactly what I was thinking of! It’s got a name! It’s called a Poultice! I had to call Chris and read it out to him again.

My head was all aspin with the wonder of it all. I felt like I’d remembered something from a past life as a herbal woman or something. It was completely and utterly magical.

Chamomile

I read up on all the different herbs that can be used in poultices, and couldn’t find any reference to chamomile. Which I really wanted to find – partly because that’s what my intuition was saying, partly because I had a large amount of chamomile tea in the cupboard I could use.

So I ended up searching through a couple of books until I found this:

Chamomile can also be used as a drawing poultice to assist in tumours, cysts and lumps.

And then Leonie did a happy dance.

How I made my poultice

I boiled some water, and in a glass bottle (you can use a jar or bowl – any container is fine) I poured the hot water and some dried chamomile. With poultices you can use fresh or dried – you don’t need as much if it’s dried. I’d love to make a poultice out of fresh herbs sometime, but for now, I went with what I had. And what I had was chamomile tea bags. So I chopped open about ten chamomile tea bags, and poured them into the water, and sloshed them about. I left the bottle for about 10-15 minutes.

Then I went in search of some cloth. All I had was an old shirt that I don’t wear anymore. It wasn’t cotton or muslin, but I just went with what I had coz that’s how I roll ;). I put the shirt over the top of the bottle and used it to strain all the water from the bottle, letting all the wet chamomile fall onto the shirt, which I made into a ball. Then I went and laid down, placed it over my Magnificent Healthy Boobs for about twenty minutes.

Word of caution: Just be careful about the heat. It can be a bit warm, and we don’t want Magnificent Healthy But Slightly Scalded Boobs. When it doubt, let it all hang out in the cool air for a bit.

Otherwise, you can place a hot water bottle over the poultice to keep it warm, as it does lose heat fairly quickly.

Skin on skin poultice action

You can apply the poultice directly onto the skin (with fabric over the top) for greater healing effect. If the herbal mixture contains irritants like mustard though, keep it all in the fabric.

I ended up putting the chamomile (which had turned into a porridge-like mush) directly onto the skin. Chamomile is very mild and soothing for the skin anyway, and I could feel it was having a greater effect with direct contact. Yum!

The results

Obviously, I’m not a doctor. Obviously, this doesn’t constitute medical advice. I don’t want to get all legal disclaimery here.

But this is my experience:
I could feel a difference immediately after applying the poultice. One of my breasts has been swollen and in pain for about a month now, with pangs of sharpness on and off. I’ve only felt glimmers of that since using poultices. When I didn’t poultice both breasts, I could feel the difference afterwards – Magnificent Healthy Poulticed Boob’s tissue was softer, less swollen and felt calmer. Obviously Magnificent Healthy Non-Poulticed Boob was missing out on the warm soothing chamomile healing goodness and was staging a revoke! No fair! Spread the poultice love, lady! So I’ve been much more attentive to poultice both boobs now.

And here’s the thing. I’m the expert on my own body here. And I can categorically say that the lump has gotten smaller and less hard since poulticing. Happy, happy healthy boob days.

And the best-ever side effect: It feels lovely. Deeply nourishing. Nurturing. Like a great act of self-care. It is diiiivine. It’s a healing hot water bottle for the boobs! Hurrah!

I wish…

I wish I’d known about herbal poultices years ago. I wish more women knew about poultices. A lot of the information I found was for women who were breastfeeding – obviously breast health becomes a lot more in focus once they are working horse boobs instead of just show pony boobs (as a breastfeeding friend of mine puts it). It would just be so wonderful for women to know that so much healing is available for us and our bodies in our gardens and in our tea boxes. My boobs have been in pain for a month now – and I had what I needed to heal it in my cupboard. I just didn’t know.

But now I do. And I’m really, really excited about what other herbal healing possibilities are to come from this.

More readings on herbal healing, poultices, and what you can use in poultices:

* Ladies Blend Thyme
* MoonDragon’s Health & Wellness
* Tea Bag Poultices

So much love, healing, Magnificent Healthy Boobs and happiness to you…

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