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A poultice, also called a cataplasm, is a paste made of herbs, plants, and other substances with healing properties. The paste is spread on a warm, moist cloth and applied to the body to relieve inflammation and promote healing. Some can be spread directly on the skin.

This popular home remedy has been used for centuries to treat inflammation, insect bites, and more.

Poultice benefits and usesWhen using a poultice, you not only get the benefits of the ingredients used, but the method itself. The warm poultice increases blood flow to the area, which is an important part of healing.

Poultice for abscess

An abscess, also called a boil, is a collection of pus that forms due to a bacterial infection. A poultice has been a popular home remedy for the treatment for abscesses for centuries. The moist heat from a poultice can help to draw out the infection and help the abscess shrink and drain naturally.

An Epsom salt poultice is a common choice for treating abscesses in humans and animals. Epsom salt helps to dry out the pus and cause the boil to drain.

Poultice for infection

A poultice can treat infection by killing bacteria and drawing out the infection. The use of poultices made of herbs, mud, or clay for infection is ancient.

Recently, researchers discovered Trusted Source that a poultice made of OMT Blue Clay may help fight certain types of disease-causing bacteria when applied to wounds. This included some treatment-resistant bacteria.

Poultice for cyst

cyst is a sac filled with fluid or a mix of solid substances and fluids. They can grow anywhere on your body or under your skin and range in size, depending on the type.

Applying a warm poultice to a cyst can speed up healing by helping it drain.

Poultice for diabetic ulcer

There is evidence of the effectiveness of poultices for diabetic ulcers dating back to the late 1800s. At the time, a poultice containing linseed was used to soften calluses before cutting away the diseased tissue and applying antiseptic.

More recently, a 2016 animal study suggested that a poultice made from the fern Blechnum orientale could be an effective treatment for diabetic ulcers. More research is needed to understand its effects in humans.

Poultice for arthritis

You may remember a grandparent or great-grandparent smothering a homemade paste over their knee for arthritis. Using herbs for arthritis is a practice that continues to this day.

2010 studyTrusted Source on 10 adults with osteoarthritis found that applying a warm ginger compress to the kidney area improved pain and stiffness, as well as overall well-being.

Ginger and a number of other plants have been shown Trusted Source to have anti-arthritic, anti-rheumatic, and anti-inflammation properties. Applying a poultice made of herbs for arthritis pain may help relieve inflammation and pain.

Which herbs and other ingredients work best?You have a few options when it comes to ingredients for making poultices. Which will work best depends on what you’re treating.


The following are herbs with medicinal properties that can be used to make poultices for a variety of ailments, such as minor skin irritations or abrasions:

Other ingredients

Other popular ingredients for a DIY poultice include:

Precautions for using a poulticeAn allergic reaction is possible when applying any substance directly on your skin. Test a small area on your forearm before applying the poultice to the affected area.

If you’re applying a poultice to an open wound, be sure to use a clean cloth if making a compress. Do not apply any type of paste or cloth poultice to a wound that appears to be seriously infected.

If you’re making a heated poultice, it should be warm — not hot — to avoid burning your skin.


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