USING MEDICINAL HERBS
Using medicinal herbs should be educational, fun and why not magic. You can treat some of your minor conditions as well as your families, but remember safety comes first.
All you need is a teapot, and a couple of pots or sauce pans, herbal tinctures can be purchased in a herbal store or you can make some with vodka.
Herbal medicine was born at home out of necessity, to treat conditions many thousands of years ago and is as old as humans. It is the medicine of the people, for the people, by the people, available to all anywhere and has evolved from an empirical art into a scientific art. As a trained medical herbalist I use traditional family knowledge, historical information as well as modern scientific information to work with my clients.
Even though most the herbs are safe most of the time, there are some with potential toxicity and it is advisable to consult with a trained medical/clinical herbalist when in doubt, remember that self diagnosis and self medication with herbs is not recommended. If you have a condition that you would normally treat with over the counter medication and would not go to the doctor with, probably can be treated at home with herbs. Any conditions that are agravated or persistent required professional help.
INTERACTIONS – remember that there are certain risks associated with the combination of herbal remedies and prescription drugs, normally anybody taking a prescription drugss should consult a qualified herbalist before taking herbal remedies, and please never stop taking prescribed drugs without discussing the particulars with the prescribing physician.
The following are some of the conditions that can be treated safely at home.
Indigestion, constipation, colds and flu, mouth ulcers sore throats, lack of energy, yeast infections, bladder infections, scratches, minor skin infections, boils and pimples, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, stress, menstrual cramps, aching muscles, stiff joints, tension headaches.
Some conditions which required professional assistance are:
Severe pain in the abdomen and chest
Severe pain in the limbs
Blood in urine or stool
Coughing of blood
Shortness of breath without cause
Injuries caused by accidents
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT HERBS
Some type of selection criteria is a must to choose the right herb for the specific herbal remedy required. There are over half a million plants that can be used in healing remedies, medical herbalist usually use about 350 different herbs in their practice. Some set of guidelines has to be used to whittle down from half a million herbs to a more realistic number, but how ?.
Medicinal herbs can be classified in different ways according to needs. They can be listed by:
Alphabetical order – Marigold, Chamomile, Echinacea, etc.
Botanical family (Taxonomic) – Compositae, Rosaceae, Rubiaceae, Laminaceae, etc.
Constituents (Biochemical)- alkaloids, tannins, coumarins, iridoids etc.
Plant parts (Morphological) – whole plant, seeds, root, flowers etc.
Therapeutic effects – tonics, astringents, diaphoretics, diuretics etc.
Geographical – American, Asian, European, etc.
When choosing your herbs for medicinal purposes, the constituents and therapeutic effects are the most important.
ACTION BASED – it is the easiest way for anyone to begin using herbs. All the herbs have biochemical action/s and specific effects in the body. Knowing these actions and the specific pathology will help you decide which actions are required and then which herbs will deliver these actions
Some of the most used actions are:
Herbs that will slowly restore the proper function of the body increasing health and vitality. This may sound unclear, but their value is certain. They act by altering the metabolic body’s processes so tissues can be dealt with a range of processes from nutrition to elimination. E.g.. Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia), Blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis), Golden seal (hydrastis canadensis).
Anti-microbial herbs can help the body to destroy or resist pathogenic micro-organisms, topically as in skin infections and internally for systemic infections. E.g. Garlic (Allium sativum), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Sage (Salvia officinalis).
Herbs/constituents that aid the body to fight inflammation in different areas. E.g. Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens), Turmeric (Curcuma longa) White willow (Salix alba), Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa), Marigold (Calendula officinalis).
Remedies that contain constituents that have a binding action on mucous membranes, skin and other exposed tissue. They contract blood vessels and some body tissues (mucous membranes) with the effect of reducing secretion and excretions. Astringents are sometimes used to stop external or internal bleeding. E.g. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Couchgrass (Agropyron repens), Tormentil (Potentilla tormentilla), Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Very important to the digestive system, these are remedies that have a bitter taste which triggers a sensory response in the mouth that is directed by the nerves to the central nervous system. From there a message goes to the stomach increasing the digestive hormone gastrin, leading to a great range of ramifications of value to the digestive process and general body health. E.g. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), Gentian (Gentiana lutea), Centaury (Erythraea centaurium).
Anti-spasmodics help by preventing or easing spasms or cramps in the muscles, they also reduce tension in the body, and many of them are also nervines, sometimes they will also ease psychological tension. E.g. Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata), Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus), Lobelia (Lobelia inflata), Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Carminatives are herbal remedies that have a high content of volatile oils, they are used to stimulate the digestive system to work properly. They are very effective to expel gas and easing griping pains from the stomach and the intestines, they also tone the mucous surfaces and increase peristaltic action (esophagus, stomach and intestine movement, which propels its contents onward).
They are also used with other herbs to make formulations more palatable, carminatives are also known as aromatics. E.g. Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum), Caraway (Carum carvi), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Peppermint (Mentha piperita).
Demulcent are herbs rich in mucilage which can soothe and protect irritated or inflamed internal tissues (mucous surfaces). If they are used on the skin, demulcents are called emollients, which have a protective and soothing action upon the surface of the body. E.g. Corn Silk (Zea mays), Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis), Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva), Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Diuretics are herbs that increase the flow of urine from the kidneys, excreting excess fluid from the body, they will not cause potassium depletion or stress the kidneys. As these are herbs which offer some beneficial action in the urinary system, they can also include urinary demulcents and anti-inflammatory herbs. E.g. Dandelion leaf (Taraxacum off. folia), Celery (Apium graveolens), Corn silk (Zea mays), Couchgrass (Agropyron repens), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).
Expectorants are herbs that aid the body to remove excess mucous from the lungs by stimulating the cleansing activities of the lungs. E.g. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Elecampane (Inula helenium), Marshmallow (Althea officinalis), Pleurisy Root (Asclepias tuberosa), Wild Cherry (Prunus serotina).
Nervines are plant remedies that have a beneficial effect/s in the nervous system, some of the different types of nervines are: tonics, relaxing, stimulating, antispasmodics, antidepressant, analgesic.
Nervine tonics – Oats (Avena sativa), St. Johns Wort (hypericum perforatum), Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora).
Nervine relaxants – Vervain (Verbene officinalis), Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia).
Antispasmodics – Valerian (valeriana officinalis), Viburnum (Viburnum opulus).
Anti-depressants – Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis), Oats (Avena sativa), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Analgesics – Jamaican Dogwood (Piscidia erythrina), Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa), Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa).
Energy enhancers are herbs that strengthen, and tonic herbs which support the adrenal glands, thyroid and nervous tissue. E.g.. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Gotu kola (Centella asiatica), Kelp (Fucus vesiculosis), Ginseng (Panax ginseng).
Herbal remedies which dilate the blood vessels, strengthen the heart and enhance circulation. They can direct the action to a specific area of the body, limbs or central organs, these herbs could be warming in nature. E.g. Ginger (Zingiber officinalis), Prickly ash (Zanthoxylum spp.), Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis), Cayenne (Capsicum minimum).
Herbs that strengthen and tonify the uterine muscle and lining, some will improve the circulation to these organs, useful to restore normal menses. E.g.. Black Haw (Viburnum prunifolium), Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Ladies Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris)
BUILDING YOUR FORMULA
Building formulas is educational and fun. Normally we use more than one herb, as the synergy of the herbs will be stronger acting for the condition, at the same time don’t use too many herbs in a formula as it is more effective to give more quantity of a few herbs than very small amounts of many herbs.
In most cases you will find that between 4 or 6 herbs will accomplish the objective, and will give you the herbal actions required for most cases.
The first step would be to find the herbal actions required for the condition, remember don’t treat the symptoms, try to find the causes of the problem. If you want to treat the symptoms they can be treated parallel to the cause ( with a second formula), specially if you need to take care of some relief, while the main formula works.
Once you have identified the actions required, make a list of the herbs that you know have these actions, if you see herbs that appear in more than one category those will be ones to use. There will be other herbs that are more specific to the condition or body area required, these specific herbs are also good candidates to be used in the formula.
Traditionally a herbal formulation should contain:
- 2 to 3 parts of specific herbs particular for the condition
- 1 part of herbs which are relaxing/soothing for the affected area or to the nerves in general
- 1 part of herbs which are tonic & strengthening to the affected area or system.
- 1 part of herbs which will aid the eliminative/alterative/depurative areas concerned.
Proportions in the formulation can be adjusted to provide more potency to some herbs, you can also enhance actions by the herbal synergy’s of the formulation, usually the herbs have several actions that will help clear the condition and to give more versatility while making formulation.
All you need is some practice and interest and you will see how the formulations can be made without too much problem. Remember you can have fun while doing it.
EXAMPLE OF FORMULA BUILDING
Your brother will be going through final exams soon at the university, he has anxiety, is tired, and is lacking concentration, he also has stomach acidity from the tension, and needs help to be at his best for the aproaching exams.
|You could use the following actions:||Formula Amounts|
|Energy enhancers – Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)||20%|
|Nervine relaxants – Vervain (Verbene officinalis)||25%|
|Nervine tonics – Oats (Avena sativa)||20%|
|Circulatory stimulants – Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis)|
|Demulcents – Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)||20%|
There are important factors to take in consideration when trying to establish the dosage for a herbal medicine.
- The first factor is: Type of herbs used in formula , potency, toxic levels if any?
- Type of condition, is acute?, severe?, normally the worse or acute the condition the more medicine you will give.
- Body size, weight, height, we will not give the same dosage to a football player weighing 250 pounds, as we would give to a frail older person.
- Absorption, distribution, elimination, are very important, an older person will required less dosage than a 30 year old, as age slows the absorption, distribution and elimination. Also the digestive condition will affect the dosage, constipation and sluggishness will require lower dosages as herbs will remain longer in the system just like with older people.
- Diarrhea will require larger dosages as herbs will not remain long in the system therefore absorption may be limited. HI metabolic rates and fevers may require also higher dosages.
Usually the best time to take herbal medicines is half hour before meals, to maximize absorption. Remember that dosages may vary from herb to herb.
TEAS: usually 3 cups a day of tea will be a normal dosage. For preparation use 1 teaspoon of total herb/s per each cup of tea to be prepared. Try to prepare the tea daily, rather than a big batch to last for several days, as teas tend to get mouldy very quick.
TINCTURES: the strength of the tincture is important here, normal therapeutic strength for medicinal herbs is 1:3 to 1:5, if so use i tsp. (5 ml) three times a day.
CREAMS/SALVES/INFUSED OILS: these can be applied often during the day, unless the area to be applied is painful.
Babies 1 to 5 years old, 1 to 5 teaspoons for a tea.
Children 5 to 12 years old, one quarter to half adult dose, after 12 year old they usually get adult dosages.
The above dosages are suggestions for normal conditions, please read the instructions of the herbal medicines to be given to children and provide the dosages recommended, when in doubt consult a qualified Medical/clinical herbalist. Also consult the children section in this site for more detailed information about herbal tincture dosages for children.
In order to have an effective herbal medicine, the quality of the product is of the upmost importance, whether dried, tincture, salve, cream, or infused oil, if the herbs are not of excellent quality the medicine is not going to be as effective as expected.
The herbs should be organic if possible, sometimes it is very hard to find all the herbs required organic, so do your best to find them. If not available, non-organic herbs have to have the proper characteristics of the herb, such as:
The color of the dried herb should be the same as when the herb was fresh, brown herbs may denote improper drying process and may be oxidized. The smell of the herb should have the same characteristics of the smell of the fresh herb. Herbs should look clean and free of debris. If processed (powder, cut) the herb should look clean and properly processed.
Buy your herbs from reputable stores that have a quick inventory rotation to make sure that the herbs have not being sitting in the store forever, when in doubt question the store staff as to origin and quality of the herbs to be purchased. Prepacked herbs may have been in a bag too long, buy bulk herbs when possible.
The same goes for other medicinal products like tinctures, salves, creams, and oils, buy from reputable companies, check for the expiry dates before purchasing, if in doubt ask questions about quality and products ingredients.
Tinctures should always be marked on the label for strength (ratios of herb to alcohol) as well as alcohol content, which is the alcohol % that is the best to extract the active constituents of the herb, so it should look something like this on the label (example):
1:5 (strength) 90% (alcohol)
In tinctures the strength is very important as it will determine the effectiveness of the product for medicinal use as well as the dosage, therefore always follow the label instruction for dosages or the advice of your medical/clinical herbalist.
HERBAL REMEDY’S STORAGE
All dried herbs are sensitive to heat, light, oxygen and water. Herbs have to be stored in airtight glass containers to retain their freshness, to stop humidity (molding), and to stop the dissipation of the herb’s constituents into the air.
Amber glass jars are excellent to store herbs, if you can not find any, store your herbs in any glass jar, paper bagsor plastic bags that are not airtight as plastic fumes will contaminate your herbs. As soon as you place your herbs in a glass container put a sticker with the name of the herb and the date.
I don’t like my herbs to touch metal during storage or while making a tea, as they may react with the metals and oxidize, thus I don’t recommend tin cans to store them. Regardless of the way that you store your herbs, they will slowly lose their potency and ultimately become worthless, don’t use any herbs that are more than 8 months to a year old.
Normally tinctures are purchased in dark glass bottles, so store them away from the sun light in a dark cool place, as they contain alcohol they do not need refrigeration, if your tincture is not made with alcohol, follow the recommendation on the label.
Alcohol tinctures last 4 to 5 years if stored correctly, but refer to the expiry date on the label to be sure.
SALVES, CREAMS AND INFUSED OILS
These types of herbal remedies are more prompt to loose their properties or become rancid or spoiled, be sure to refer to the labels expiry date, if there is no expiry date use your sense of smell and look at the product to see if there is any separation of the ingredients.
If unsure do not use it and buy a new one, the following is a basic time table for normal expiration time of well made products. Remember ultimately, the ingredients, quality and the manufacturing process of the product determines the shelf life.
SALVES – 2 years
CREAMS – 2 years
INFUSED OILS – 1 year
HERBAL REMEDIES USAGE
There are many ways to use herbal remedies and they vary in strength and ease of use, also the condition to be treated and the purpose of the herbal medicine may dictate which type of remedy should be used.
There are internal and external herbal remedies, the strongest and fastest way to get herbal remedies into your systems is by using tinctures, teas are generally not as strong as tinctures but occasionally are necessary as we shall see.
There are many ways of making internal remedies, but as with all of them, it is very important how you make them so you can end up with a high quality herbal medicine.
Types of internal medicines:
1. Tincture preparations
2. Water-based preparations
3. Syrups, lozenges, elixirs and other liquid formulations
4. Fresh or dried herbs
Medical/Clinical herbalists use this type of medicine more often, as it is stronger than water extractions, easier to take, and they have a long shelf life, if store correctly they can last up to 4 years.
They are made by macerating (soaking) a dried or fresh herb in a mix of water and alcohol for 2 weeks, it is shaken daily for those 2 weeks and then is strained and placed in a dark bottle. Normally tinctures are made with alcohol but occasionally glycerin or vinegar can be used.
Tinctures are made according to descriptions in a Pharmacopoeia, different plants have different requirements for the alcohol strength required to extract the active constituents of the plant, most of the herbs use 25% (e.g. Dandelion), some need 45% (e.g. Echinacea), 60% (e.g. Boldo) or up to 90% (e.g. Myrrh, Marigold).
In Canada, due to taxation, alcohol is very expensive so Vodka can be use to make tinctures, vodka’s alcohol content is 45% so most of the tinctures can use it.
Tinctures may also be made with vinegar as the acetic acid in the vinegar will act as a preservative and solvent similar to alcohol.
Glycerin based tinctures have several advantages, are child friendly, can be taken by people that can not take alcohol, and are easy on the digestive tract. There are a few disadvantages: resins or oily materials don’t dissolve as good as in alcohol, and the strength of the tincture is not as good as in alcohol based one.
The standard strength of a tincture is 1:5, (one part of died herb to 5 parts of the water alcohol mix), other tinctures are made at a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3, or a weaker 1:10. I prefer a tincture that is, 1:3 or 1:4 as this is the best therapeutic strength for most herbal medicines (except for restricted herbs).
A herbal prescription is usually made with 4 to 6 herbs, which synergistically work better than a single tincture. A normal dosage of a herbal formulation is 5 ml taken 3 times a day (depending on the herbs used).
WATER BASED PREPARATIONS
If you know how to make tea you can make an infusion, it is the easiest way to prepare a herbal medicine at home. You use this method to prepare leaves, flowers and any soft part of a plant
Place 1 teaspoon of the dried herb or 3 three teaspoons of the fresh herb in a cup, and pour over 1 cup of freshly boiled water. Steep it 10 min. then strain off and drink. Lemon and honey may be added but don’t use milk.
Take 3 cups of the tea a day, the cooled infusion can also be used as a skin wash, for skin infections or inflammations, or as a mouth wash and gargle for sore throats, mouth ulcers and oral infections.
If you are combining 2 or more herbs to make your infusion you would generally use equal parts of each herb to give a total of 1 teaspoon to 1 cup of water, unless otherwise indicated.
When the herbs to be used are hard such as, roots, seeds, barks, stems and particularly thick or tough leaves, it is better to make a decoction as the cell walls are very strong and they required a stronger method to extract the active constituents.
The proportions are the same as for the infusion (1 teaspoon to 1 cup) but the herb is placed in a glass, enamel or stainless steel pan, covered with the cold water and brought to a boil. Keeping the pan tightly covered allow it to simmer for 5 to 15 min then strain off and drink.
You can use a decoction and infusions in the same way, and dosages are usually the same. If you are making a mixture of soft and hard herbs, make a decoction of the hard herbs first, then use the decoction to pour over the soft part to make an infusion.
USAGES OF INFUSIONS/DECOCTIONS
As a tea taken internally.
As a skin wash for inflammations, infections or blisters.
As a douche or enema.
As a hair rinse for scalp conditions.
As a mouth wash or gargle for sore throats or mouth infections.
As a hand or foot bath.
This is one of the most effective ways to take herbs internally, as you are getting absolutely all the goodness from the plant. Juices are made from fresh plants, and a good juicer is essential (and they are not cheap): I recommend the Champion. The main drawback with juices is that they start oxidizing as soon as you make them and lose their potency. They can be preserved in the fridge for a few hours but the best way to preserve them for longer periods is to combine the juice with an equal part of glycerin (available from the health food store). This will give them a shelf life of around 6 months.
Dosages of juice required will vary according to the herbs used, a general guideline is one 5 ml. teaspoon 2 – 3 times a day for the juice and glycerin mixture, or proportionately less for children.
If you don’t like to be bother with making teas, or if the tea taste is not very good, you can make capsules. They are very easy to make by grinding the herbs to a fine powder (a mortar or a coffee grinder works well). This guarantees that the cell walls are largely broken down, and helps in the digestion and absorption of the herb, then use the powder to fill empty vegetable or gelatin capsules.
The size of capsules should be “00”, holds about 0.5 grams, they are available in health food stores, normally you can take 2 to 3 of these capsules a day.
Capsules should not be used for children, nor where the action of the herbs is to promote and enhance digestion, many of the digestive herbs are bitters and work by reflex responses to their bitter taste.
How to make a capsule:
Place the powdered herbs in a small flat dish and take the halves of the capsule apart.
Move the halves of the capsules through the powder, filling them in the process.
Push the halves together and close them.
The skin is the largest organ of the body, and one of the great abilities of this organ is absorption, several methods of herbal medicine have been developed to take advantage of this fact.
There are creams, salves, baths, liniments, oils, compress and poultices. These remedies are very effective and versatile to treat innumerable conditions, as a sole remedy or combination of internal and external therapy.
You have to start with a good cream base, preferably unscented and able to accept the herbs in liquid form without loosing its consistency, then you can add up to 10 or 15% (total amount) of tincture, essential oils or infused oils desired, a little at a time while stirring the mix well and then store in jars.
Semisolid preparations, which can be applied to the skin. There are many ways of making salves depending on the final use intended, they may vary in texture, from very thick and greasy to softer more cream like texture.
Any herb can be used for making ointments, the following are only some examples of great value for external use.
Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
Arnica (Arnica montana)
Plantain (Plantago major)
Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva)
The easiest way to make a salve is by using Vaseline or a similar petroleum jelly as a base. This easy method has a disadvantage of being an inorganic base, but the advantage is that it is very easy to handle and available anytime, so it can be made very quickly.
The simple method to make a salve with Vaseline is to simmer 2 tablespoons of the desired herb/s in 200 grams of Vaseline for about 15 minutes stirring well, sift it through a cheese cloth or fine gauze, pour the liquid into a jar and seal it after it has cooled.
To make a more professional salve, use 500 ml of an herb/s infused oil, place in a stainless steel pan and gently warm the infused oil, add aprox. 60 g. of bees wax (grated), once it is melted place in jars, if you have time this is the preferred method to make a salve properly.
Any herb that can be used internally can also be used in a bath. Herbal baths are very effective for babies as well as adults. Baths are very relaxing, healing and soothing, you can prepare an infusion and poured it into the bath water, or you can place the herbs in cheese cloth and place it in the hot water, usually 30 grams (total) of herb/s is enough. You can also use Essential oils in your baths.
To aid your sleep – Hops (Humulus lupulus), Linden flowers (Tilia europea), Lavender (Lavandula off.), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis).
General tonic – Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).
Hyperactive children – Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) , Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Rheumatic joints – Mustard, (Brassica nigra) (2 teaspoons)
For a relaxing and exquisitely scented bath, infusions can be made of:
Linden (Tilia europea), Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Other ideas are :
Relaxing bath – Lavender (Lavandula off.), German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Linden (Tilia europea)
Children relaxing bath – Roman Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Linden (Tilia europea), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Infused oils can be used directly on the skin, as a massage blend, or to make salves or creams, they are very versatile and easy to make.
Use a clean dry glass jar, pack the herbs to be used loosely inside of the jar, if using fresh herbs make sure that they have being picked when there is no dew or rain on them, they have to be dry. Fill the jar to the brim with a carrier oil such as almond oil or olive oil, tightly close the jar, and leave it to stand on a window sill (facing the daily sun) for about 2 weeks, shake it and turn it daily.
At the end of this period strain the oil and store it in a tightly closed bottle/jar and placed it in a cool dry place (don’t forget to put on a sticker with the herb/s name and the date).
Use these oils to treat skin afflictions, by using different herbs you can make oils useful to treat conditions such as shingles, arthritis, psoriasis, eczema, scars, etc.
POULTICE FOMENTATIONS AND COMPRESSES
Very useful when you have to apply herbs directly onto the skin, to treat a skin condition, to soften tissue, to alleviate pain or inflammation. Specially effective in treating joint problems such as arthritis, as they will increase the blood supply to the joints which sometimes can not be reached by internal medicines.
They can be made from a piece of cloth, compresses can be applied hot or cold, poultices are always applied hot.
Compresses are made using an infusion or decoction of the herb/s, in which you soak a piece of flannel or towel, you can bandage it around the area to be treated, normally a compress is refreshed every 15/20 minutes, the application can last from 1 to 4 hours. Herbs commonly used for compresses are : Chickweed, Comfrey, Marigold, Mullein, Plantain, Slippery Elm, Chamomile.
Poultices are made by packing fresh or died herbs in a muslin bag or folded flannel soaked in boiling water, then bandage it in place (make sure that it is hot but not burning), as poultices have to remain in place for 1 to 4 hours, keep it warm by using a water bottle or heating pad. Herbs commonly used for poultices are:
Comfrey (fractures ulcers), Chamomile and Hops (muscle pains and neuralgias).