Inhalations with herbs
Steam inhalations combine the benefit of steam and antiseptic herbs to effectively clear nasal congestion and relieve the symptoms of colds, flu, hayfever and sinusitis. To prepare a steam inhalation, place 50 g of dried herbs in a bowl or saucepan. Pour 1 litre of boiling water over the herbs. Cover your head and the bowl with a towel, close your eyes and inhale the steam for 20–30 minutes.
Swedish Bitters’ compress
Swedish Bitters is often used in a compress to provide soothing relief from a wide range of complaints. To prepare a Swedish Bitters’ compress, soak cotton wool or a clean cloth (depending on the size of the area you are treating) with Swedish Bitters. Rub some calendula cream on the affected area to prevent your skin from drying. Apply the moistened compress and then overwrap with plastic film slightly larger than the compress. Cover with a woollen or flannel cloth or hand towel. Secure the compress with a scarf or bandage and leave for 4–5 hours or overnight.
Fomentation is really another word for a compress. Fomentations use a cloth soaked in a herbal infusion or decoction and applied externally to the skin. Fomentations can be very effective in relieving bruising, swelling, pain and inflammation, and for soothing headaches and fevers. They can also be used to help clear skin complaints such as acne. To use a fomentation, soak a clean cloth or towel in a herbal infusion or decoction, wring out the excess and apply as hot as possible to the affected area.
Poultices with herbs
A poultice uses softened fresh or dried herbs that are applied directly onto the skin. Poultices are often used to relieve muscular pain, to relieve pain associated with sporting injuries, and to draw pus from boils, ulcers and infected wounds. To prepare a poultice, hang a sieve containing fresh or dried herbs over a saucepan of water and bring the water to the boil. Cover and steam for a few minutes. Spread the softened herbs on a cloth and place on the affected area. Cover the poultice with a woollen cloth and leave on for approximately 2 hours.