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Posts Tagged ‘slippery elm’

Some of the best remedies we have for acute ailments can be found right in our own kitchen cabinets.  For me it is extremely convient to reach for something in the pantry or spice cabinet when I’m in need of a quick remedy.  Long before mail order and online shopping people had to rely on what they had around the house or in the yard to treat illnesses which would arise.

One particular application called a “Poultice” has a plethora of benefits and can be made up using things that you may already have in your kitchen.  A Poultice or Cataplasm as it is also refered to is basically a moistened mass of plant or food materials that are applied to various areas of the body in order to impart it’s medicinal benefits and to provide relief.  The word “Poultice” derives from the latin word “porridge” suggesting a consistancy much like that of porridge.
 

Making and Using a Poultice:

Depending on what you are using as your poulticed material will determine how the material is prepared.  When using fresh plant material you can either chew it up, crush it in a mortor with a pestle  or even chop in a blender until you have made a gooey blob (always ensure you have positively identified a plant prior to chewing or ingesting).  This mass of plant material is then applied directly to the effected area, wrapped with plastic wrap to retain moisture and then secured in place with a gauze or bandage .  When using dry material hot water can be added to hydrate the material and then applied to the affected area.   Warm or cold applications can be applied on top of the dressing to provide additional relief as indicated.  Depending on the type of condition you can apply a light layer of oil, such as olive, to the skin to keep the poulticed material from sticking to the skin once it has dried out (never apply oil based applications to open wounds).  Egg whites can also be added to dry plant material to help add moisture and flour can also be added to help the material adhere to areas such as the top of the ear.  Poultices are effective for various conditions to include inflammations, ulcerations, boils, burns, bites, stings, sprains, bruises, skin conditions and so on.

There are numerous items around the home and in the yard that can be applied as a Poultice.  As a matter of fact I have used plane ole baking soda time and time again to give relief for bee or wasp stings.  Simply add water to baking soda a few drops at a time until you get a thick paste.  Apply the paste to the affected area.  Once the powder is dry I simply wash it off with tap water and we are usually good to go.
 
Various Poultice Applications:

Honey or Molasses – may be mixed with flour  to make a paste or applied on it’s own for burns or scalds.

Baking Soda or Clay – prepare as mentioned above for bug bites and stings.

Cabbage Leaves (raw) – Crushed or mashed and applied for inflammations, ulcers, boils, arthitis and infections.

Potato (raw/grated) – inflammations and boils.

Bread and Milk – combine the bread and milk and apply to boils and abcesses.

Corn Meal – mixed with boiling water to make a paste an applied to the chest for plueral inflammation.

Onion – lightly sautee a chopped onion until it is soft and warm and place between a gauze or other cloth.  Grease the chest and apply the poultice to the area.  Very effective for respiratory conditons.

Elm (Ulmus fulva, U. spp.) – Mix the powdered elm bark with warm water and apply to inflammations, swellings and ulcerations.

Mallow or Malva spp. – Chew or crush the leaves and apply as a very effective emollient.

Plantain (P. lancealota, P. major) – Chew or crush leaves and apply to area.  Fabulous for helping to draw things out of the skin such as stingers, splinters or glass.

Although I may not have mentioned them all there are an endless number of herbs and foods which can be poulticed.  This application is one of the easiest methods for dealing with acute conditions.  So the next time the need arises try yourself a poultice from the kitchen or the yard.

Skin Condition

Apply oil to skin

Apply poultice material

Apply plastic wrap

Secure poultice

Skin Condition Resolved!!

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059Well it’s that time of the year for the crud…coughing, sneezing, fever, sore throat, etc. Unfortunately, we can’t lock ourselves in a hermetically sealed room all the time and therefore we are exposed to millions of germs each day. Germs include bacteria, fungi, protazoa, and viruses. However, just because we are exposed to these germs doesn’t necessarily mean we will get sick. Fortunately, we have a built in defense which helps to protect us from foreign invaders….our immune system. Think of the immune system as a huge fortress with soldiers standing guard. On the outside of the fortress is the germ army preparing an attack. The germ army is looking for all kinds of ways to penetrate the fortress and attack the inhabitants. So in order to keep our immune system strong and prevent illness we can do a few simple things all the time:
* Get plenty of sleep. When the body is deprived of sleep it is more vulnerable to attack.
* Eat healthy foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
* Avoid sugar. Germs feed off of sugar.
* Reduce stress
* Practice good hygiene.
* Laugh a lot. You’ve heard the proverbial saying, “Laughter is the best medicine”, and well it’s true. Laughter helps to increase the number of immune cells that attack foreign invaders in the body.

My mother woke up with a very dry cough which brought her lurching forward to hold her rip cage. She described it as a tickle in her throat that wouldn’t go away. Compelled to relieve her from what I knew to be extreme discomfort I made her some slippery elm lozenges. The recipe is rather simple:

Add slippery elm powder to honey until you get the consistency of play dough. Roll it between you hands to make a snake about the diameter of your pinky finger. Pinch off about a quarter of an inch and roll into a ball. These can be rolled in licorice root or more slippery elm powder and dried in a low temp oven.

Because my mother needed help immediately I gave her the lozenge without drying it. It stuck to the roof of her mouth like peanut butter, but within less than 15 minutes she was no longer coughing. She sucked on the lozenges for the rest of the day and the coughing completely disappeared and has not returned.

After the crud had run it’s coarse with the rest of the family it settled in with me despite my attempts to keep my immune system strong. (There was that fit that my 7 year old threw which stressed me to the max) Sometimes these little germ guys just find there way in regardless of what you do. I’m probably the worst patient I have and continue to run and do and skip my herbs. However, the nasal congestion had gotten to critical mass with pressure which seemed like my head would literally explode. I remembered an article that herbalist Jim Mcdonald had written about Yerba Mansa nasal spray. At this point I would basically try anything. I made up a batch of Jim’s nasal spray and within minutes felt some relief. I also took a few drops of the tincture internally for good measure.

I guess the moral to this story for me is to take time out and take care of myself before things go full blown.

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