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Using Poultice to Relieve Inflammation

A poultice has been used for hundreds of years now as a popular home remedy for treating insect bites, inflammation, pain, and many more conditions. Also known as a cataplasm, a poultice is a paste that is made up of plants, herbs, and other items that have healing properties. A poultice is known to have benefits in many health conditions. Read on to find out the benefits of using a poultice and how using poultice can relieve inflammation.

Using Poultice to Relieve Inflammation

What is a Poultice?

A poultice is a paste that is made up of plants, herbs, and many other substances that have excellent healing properties. This paste is spread onto a warm and moist cloth and then applied to the body to promote healing and reduce inflammation. Some types of paste can be spread directly on to your skin.

A poultice is also known as a cataplasm, and it is a popular home remedy that has been used for hundreds of years for treating insect bites, inflammation, and many other conditions.

Benefits and Uses of a Poultice

There are many benefits of using a poultice. When you use a poultice, you are able to draw out the benefits of the ingredients that are inside. Furthermore, you also benefit from the method as well. The warmth of the poultice helps boost blood flow to the affected area, which is also an essential part of the healing process.

Poultices can be made according to what you want to use it for. They are used for treating boils, swelling, inflammation, bruises, etc.

Here are some of the benefits and uses of a poultice.

Poultice for Arthritis

Using various types of herbs for treating arthritis or getting relief from the symptoms of arthritis is a common practice. A study done by New Zealand-based RATO Health in 2010 on ten adults with osteoarthritis found that by applying a warm ginger poultice to the kidney, area helped the participants get relief in pain and stiffness, and also helped them feel better overall.(1)

Ginger, along with a number of other plants are known to have anti-rheumatic, anti-arthritic, and anti-inflammation properties.(2) When you apply a poultice made of herbs that are known to help with arthritis pain, you will experience significant relief in your pain and inflammation. Some of the herbs that are known to help with arthritis pain and inflammation include:

Poultice for Treating Abscesses

Also known as a boil, an abscess is a collection of pus that forms due to a bacterial infection. The poultice has been used as a popular home remedy for treating abscesses for hundreds of years now. The moist heat that comes from a poultice helps draw out the infection and also helps the abscess shrink, allowing it to drain naturally.

The most common choice for treating abscesses is to use an Epsom salt poultice. Epsom salt is beneficial in treating abscesses as it helps dry out the pus and also causes the boil to drain out.

Poultice for Treating Infections

A poultice can also be ideal for treating an infection s it helps draw out the infection and kill the bacteria causes the infection. The use of poultices that are made of mud, clay, or herbs, is an ancient practice.

Recently, studies done by the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine have found that a poultice made up of OMT Blue Clay could help fight against many types of disease-causing bacteria when it is applied to wounds.(3) This also included many types of treatment-resistant bacteria.

Poultice for Treating a Cyst

A cyst can grow anywhere on the body or even under your skin. It ranges in size, depending on what type of cyst you have.

Applying a warm poultice on the cyst can help speed up the healing as it helps the cyst drain out.

Poultice for Treating Diabetic Ulcer

There is some evidence that indicates that poultices are quite effective in treating diabetic ulcers. The evidence goes all the back to the late 1800s. During those times, a poultice made of linseed was commonly used to soften the calluses that formed on the feet before cutting away at the diseased tissue and then applying antiseptic to the wound.

In recent times, animal studies published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2016 found evidence that a poultice made of the fern Blechnum Orientale could be an effective treatment for diabetic ulcers. However, a more in-depth research is still needed to understand the effects on humans.

What Ingredients and Herbs Work Best For Making A Poultice?

There are very few options when it comes to choosing ingredients for making these poultices. You need to choose the herbs and ingredients depending on what condition you are treating.

Here are some herbs that have proven medicinal properties that you can use to make poultices for many types of conditions, including abrasions or minor skin irritations.

Some of the other popular ingredients that you can use for making a poultice include:

  • Milk
  • Bread
  • Epsom salt
  • Aloe vera
  • Activated charcoal
  • Baking soda
  • Coconut oil

How to Make a Poultice?

You can get significant relief from a homemade poultice for many conditions, including mild pain from arthritis, minor injuries, minor skin irritations, cuts, and bruises, amongst other conditions.

Here is how you can make some of the commonly used poultices:

Herbal Poultices

You will need to get the following items for making an herbal poultice, which can be used for reliving minor inflammation, treating abrasions, and some other conditions as well.

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 chopped clove of garlic
  • 1 ounce of freshly chopped ginger (you can use grated ginger as well)
  • 1/4 small raw onion (preferably sliced)
  • A cotton bandage or cheesecloth

Here is how you can make the poultice:

  • Add the coconut oil and the rest of the ingredients in a pan on low heat. Allow the ingredients to heat to a point where they are almost dry, but not burnt.
  • Turn the stove off and transfer the ingredients to a separate bowl for cooling down.
  • Cool it to a point where it is just warm to the touch. It should not cool down completely.
  • Now lay the cloth flat and put the mixture to the center of the cloth
  • Fold the cloth over two times and create a pack. You can also gather it and tie it with a string to create a handle.
  • Place on the affected body part for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Baking Soda Poultice

This is one of the easiest poultices to make. It requires nothing except for putting 2 to 3 tablespoons of baking soda which you mix with sufficient cold water to make into a paste. Now apply this paste to any kind of minor skin irritations such as mild sunburn or a razor burn. The cooling effect will help you get relief.

Bread Poultice

You can use a bread poultice for treating a cyst, abscess, or a splinter. You only need a slice of bread and 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk. You can make the bread poultice in the following way:

  • Warm up the milk in a pan on low heat.
  • After turning off the stove, remove the pan and let it cool down enough so that it is warm to the touch. It should not be too hot or too cold.
  • Now place the bread slice in the middle of the pan and allow it to soften.
  • Stir the milk and the bread until you make it into a paste.
  • You can apply this paste to the skin directly and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • You should repeat the process two to three times a day.

Using Poultices to Relieve Inflammation

Here are some anti-inflammatory poultices you can use to treat and reduce inflammation.

Flax Seed Poultice: You need to add some flax seed to water, olive oil, milk, or even diluted vinegar. Crush the flax seed or grind it for 15-20 minutes. Now put this thick paste you have made in a bag or on a towel. Then place it on the affected place while the paste is still hot. The same poultice can be used for two days in a row. If the patient is having severe pain and is an adult, you can boil 3 to 4 poppy heads in the water and then add this water to the flax seed before following the same procedure mentioned above. If there is surface inflammation of the skin, then you should apply a thin poultice that is made from boiled potatoes.

Hemp Seed Poultice: The method remains the same as the one for making the flax seed poultice. The only difference is that you need to switch the flax seed with hemp seeds.

Milk, Okra, and Sugar Poultice: 100 grams of fresh okra have to be boiled in 300 ml of milk. Add one tablespoon of sugar and boil the mixture for two hours or until it becomes a thick paste. You can apply the hot (not too hot or too cold) on the affected area and leave it on for 30 minutes. This poultice is excellent for treating heavy bruises, headaches, and surface inflammation as well.


While using a poultice is an effective remedy for treating many conditions, if you find that your symptoms are not improving after a week of using the poultice or if you notice any other signs of a serious infection then you should consult a doctor. These signs could include:

  • Fever
  • Severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Skin warmth
  • Blisters
  • Rash
  • Area of redness that appears to be expanding

Are of redness on your skin that appears to be spreading or expanding quickly or if you are running a high fever, then you should visit the closest emergency room without delay.

Poultices can be made easily since most of the ingredients needed to make a poultice for inflammation are generally already found in our kitchen. All you need to do is mix the ingredients with a little bit of coconut oil, milk, or water to make a poultice and apply on the affected area.


  1. Therkleson, T., 2010. Ginger compress therapy for adults with osteoarthritis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 66(10), pp.2225-2233.
  2. Choudhary, M., Kumar, V., Malhotra, H. and Singh, S., 2015. Medicinal plants with potential anti-arthritic activity. Journal of intercultural ethnopharmacology, 4(2), p.147.
  3. Caflisch, K.M., Schmidt-Malan, S.M., Mandrekar, J.N., Karau, M.J., Nicklas, J.P., Williams, L.B. and Patel, R., 2018. Antibacterial activity of reduced iron clay against pathogenic bacteria associated with wound infections. International journal of antimicrobial agents, 52(5), pp.692-696.
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 27, 2020

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