Fomentations differ from compresses in that they are local applications of hot and cold given alternately. Compresses are either hot or cold, but not given alternately. Either infusions or decoctions are used for fomentations, depending on which part of the plant is used. Fomentations stimulate circulation, aid in decongestion, draw abscesses, are soothing to external tissue and warm stiff joints. They can be used for acute inflammations, local pains and congestion, neuralgia, toothache, and pleurisy.
Dilute a tea or infusion with one litre (4 cups) of hot water and strain. While still very hot, the fomentation is carried to the bedside in a covered container. A thick cloth, as a diaper, is then dipped into the tea. Rubber gloves should be worn to protect the hands from the hot liquid. The cloth is wrung out and fanned in the air until it can be tested on the inside of the therapist’s arm without scalding. It should be applied as hot as the patient can stand, then covered with towels to retain the heat as long as possible. When that cloth has been removed, sponge the area quickly with a cold towel several times before reapplying the hot cloth. The vessel with the tea should be kept covered to retain the heat. Fomentations may be applied for a period of fifteen minutes to an hour, depending on the case.
- 1 cup freshly grated Ginger root
- 2 quarts distilled water
Place ginger on a cheesecloth, gather into a loose pouch, and secure with a rubber band. Put the pouch into the water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer covered for fifteen minutes, then remove from heat and commence with the fomentation procedure. This fomentation is especially good for menstrual cramps and for breaking up congestion.
- 1 cup each powdered Comfrey root, Elecampane root, Mullein leaves, and Lobelia
- 1/8 cup finely chopped Ginger root
- 2 quarts distilled water
- 3 trays ice cubes
Soak comfrey, elecampane, and ginger in distilled water for 15 minutes. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a slow simmer for ten minutes. During this waiting time, boil two quarts of plain water in a separate pan and set aside uncovered. Strain the tea mixture, cover, and set aside.
Prepare two cold packs by placing one tray of ice cubes each into two plastic bags. Place the bags into two small towels and fold them over to make two ice packs about 5×10 inches each. Pour the plain hot water into a foot bath tub. Have the patient lie down and place the feet in the tub. Put one ice pack under the neck at the edge of the cranium. Place the other ice pack on the top of the head and hold in place with a pillow. It is helpful if the patient’s can is near a wall to help keep the pillow and ice pack in position. Fold a small towel so that it lies on the forehead and drapes along the sinuses on eather side of the nose. This protects the face from excess heat.
Soak another small towel in the tea, wring out and lay it on top of the first towel in the same configuration. Time the applicatio to exactly three minutes. During this process, soak another towel in the tea, apply to the chest and cover with two large towels to retain the heat. Prepare a small bowl of ice water. Remove the sinus towels and immediately follow with a cold towel which has been wrung out in the ice water. Make sure that it follows the same configuration as the fomentation. Leave the cold towel on for 30 seconds while you prepare the next fomentation. Repeat the hot/cold process three times. Pat dry.
Marshmallow Fomentation for Mastitis
- 1cup powdered Marshmallow root
- 1 quart distilled water
Stir the marshmallow root into the water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for ten0 minutes, covered. Soak a cloth in the mixture and apply to affected breasts as hot as the patient can tolerate. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent losing the mucilage, then cover with two towels to retain the heat. When cool, soak again and reapply. Repeat three times for each breast.
This treatment immediately soothes and relieves the pressure of overfull and inflamed breasts.