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A - Z of Home Remedies & Cures

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Fomentations, herbal fomentation

Fomentations, herbal fomentation


A Fomentation is an herbal application applied directly to a part of the body, in which a cloth is soaked in a hot herbal infusion and then applied to a wound for 10-20 minutes. Fomentations can be hot and cold applications. Fomentations are similar to compresses, except hot compresses are usually applied to a wound and left to cool, whereas Fomentations are kept warm during the application.

Fomentations can be made with hot water, essentials oils, hydrosols, vinegars and herbs and are useful in treating: stiff joints, injuries, cramps, sporting sprains and strains, aches, inflamed areas in the body, coughs and congestion, and drawing out abscesses. They are also an effective method of getting the skin to absorb herbal properties, when herbal teas and tinctures cannot be taken as food.

To prepare a fomentation select a dried herb and prepare a decoction or infusion. To prepare a decoction: add one teaspoonful of herb per one-cup of water to a pan and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool enough to strain out the herbs.

To prepare an infusion: add one teaspoonful of herb per one-cup of water to a pan, pour boiling water over the herbs, cover with a lid and let steep for 10-15 minutes, strain out the herbs.

Too ensure the liquid is hot enough you may have to rewarm it. Place a hand-cloth or face-flannel in the reheated liquid and soak for a few minutes. Remove the cloth from the pan and squeeze out the excess liquid, apply to the wound area (making sure it is not too hot for the patient). Add a towel over the fomentation cloth to keep it hot.

You may use two cloths in the process, keeping one cloth soaking and warm, and ready to replace the other cloth as soon as it cools. If applying the fomentation to an arm or leg, it is recommended to wrap the warm cloth with a plastic wrap and then add a towel to keep the cloth warm for as long as possible. You may use a bandage to secure the fomentation in place.

Some herbalists use a cold compress for 3-5 minutes between the hot fomentations to increase the blood flow to the injured area and increase the healing process. Use ice cubes wrapped in a cloth if available.

Always seek the advice of your doctor before taking herbal medications



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