Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Make-Ahead Charcoal Poultice

When I was a young girl I seem to remember my grandmother talking about "a poultice". To my ear it sounded like something to do with the "milk toast" that was part of Grandma's comfort food outlay when children were sick.

 I have no idea where the association came from between 'poultice' (A soft, moist mass of material, typically of plant material or flour, applied to the body to relieve soreness and inflammation)and 'milk toast' (a soft, milky mass of white toast and warm milk, butter, and sugar applied to sick children to relieve them of hunger and boredom). But just recently I began to be interested in the idea of poultices again.

 That is not to say that before this current interest I haven't read a little about poultices, seen some simple ones demonstrated, and even tried my hand a messy one or two myself. I have. The operative word has always been "messy". 

 A friend has been suggesting that I watch some videos by Aussie Naturopath, Barbara O'Neill. I finally began looking at them this week and I am fascinated--both by the strong, petite O'Neill with her vibrant method of presenting about natural health, and by the content of her lectures at her Misty Mountain Health Spa.

The video that has spoken strongest to me so far is the one about poultices.  (Unfortunately these videos are not currently available on Youtube. APR/2021)

O'Neill explains that she took up natural healing when she was a young mother with a baby that was on antibiotics for an ear infection for almost two years.  Another of her babes got an ear infection. In desperation she turned to an older neighbor (85) and asked what her mother did to deal with ear infections. The woman told her that her mother put the juice from a steamed onion into the suffering child's ear, and used the rest of the onion in a poultice to place against the outside of the ear. O'Neill tried this with her baby, and voila, after a few applications the ear infections were gone for good. She went on to have five more babies and raised two additional step-children, all of whom skipped antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals after the first child's nasty experience.

 I learned more about O'Neill throughout her other videos. I'm sixty-two years old and thought I knew quite a lot about natural healing, but I'm learning something new about physiology, methods of soothing and stimulating healing, and child development with each video I watch. 

 My husband and I use activated charcoal for a number of situations: wonky gut after over-eating or eating something that seems to have 'poisoned' us, at the outset of a cold, and for things like skin infections and rashes. Activated charcoal is 'adsorptive' when taken with water-- the toxins leave the body by attaching to the carbon molecules. 

 In the video on "Poultices" Dr. O'Neill gave a recipe for having a charcoal poultice on hand, in the fridge, for any emergency that might arise from spider bites to infected wounds to snake bite (she lives in the wilderness of Australia, so I'm thinking that children are likely more susceptible to snake bite there than here).


1. Tear off two 12" - 18" sheets from a box of plastic wrap.  Lay out the one to receive the charcoal gel.  Put the other one aside.

2. Combine 1/2 C. Activated Charcoal and 1/6 C. Psyllium fibre, and water to cover.  Very carefully combine the two powders to keep the charcoal dust from clouding the air.  Massage the gel with a spoon until it is a pleasant, homogeneous texture.
3. Place the Charcoal-Psyllium gel on top of the one sheet of plastic wrap and place the other sheet over top.  Roll it out like pie crust, until about 1/8 - 1/4" thick throughout.  Place it in the fridge.

4. Cut (with scissors) a piece of the poulticette to match the size of the area concerned.  Peel off the top layer of plastic.  Lay the poultice on a common adhesive bandage pad so the square of charcoal will cover the affected area.  Simple as that!  You can use it directly over a wound or bite/sting and tape a piece of gauze over it if desired.  

Wash hands well before and after dressing the sting/bite/wound.  Change every few hours.  See a medical professional if affected area looks worse or has not changed after a day.
        There you go!  The tiny poultice really
is that neat and effective!



  1. Hi! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be ok. I'm absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts. aol mail sign in

  2. Hi Travis... I am on Twitter and Instagram as /healthiacynthia


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