Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was the first to introduce and make use of what we call the mustard plaster. Mustard seed, as a traditional plant, has been used for thousands of years as a treatment for respiratory illness as well as rheumatism (arthritis and joint pain disorders). Although not considered a ‘modern medicine’, the mustard plaster works extremely well for conditions such as pneumonia, lung infections, coughs, bronchitis, colds and flu’s. It works as a ‘counter-irritant’, which basically acts by creating somewhat of an irritation to the skin above the area being treated (such as the lungs) and attracts blood and increased circulation to the area. The benefit of using a mustard plaster for lung related conditions is that it helps break up and clear congestion, draws out toxins, relieves cough, and stimulates the immune system to fight infection. As a topical application (applied to the skin) a mustard plaster is not only effective, but it’s also quick, safe, inexpensive, and simple to make.
Below are instructions on how to make a mustard plaster.
Items needed for mustard plaster:
Mustard powder, all purpose flour, warm water, tea towel, wool blanket or bath towel, facecloth, coconut or olive oil.
- In a small mixing bowl, mix 1 part (4 tbsp) mustard powder with 1 part (4 tbsp) all purpose flour.
- Add warm (not hot) water to the mix until it turns into a thin paste (similar to pancake batter).
- Lay out a tea towel flat onto a hard surface.
- Spread the paste with a spoon onto 1/4 of the tea towel (divide the tea towel into 4 equal areas), or to the area on the towel that will cover the treatment area needed on the person (ie. enough area to cover the chest of the person being treated).
- Fold the towel in half and then half again to cover the mustard plaster mix. Slightly fold over the sides of the towel to ensure the mustard preparation doesn’t seep out.
- Apply coconut or olive oil to the area of the skin where the mustard plaster will be applied *This is critical to help avoid burning or blistering of the skin by the plaster.
- Lay down and apply the folded mustard plaster tea towel over the area being treated. Ensure the actual mustard plaster mix lays closest to the skin and not the side of the tea towel folded into multiple layers.
- Cover the mustard plaster with a wool blanket or bath towel to help contain the heat and warmth within the area.
- At this point, within minutes, the skin will begin feeling hot, ‘prickly’ and ‘red’. This is the expected response the mustard plaster will have on the skin in order to create its medicinal actions.
- *Lift the side of the mustard plaster every 1-2 minutes to ensure the skin is not beginning to blister. Again, the purpose of the plaster is to bring heat, blood and redness to the surface of the skin. This being said, it is important to ensure the plaster is not burning or blistering the skin.
- Continue checking the skin every couple of minutes while maintaining the application on the skin for 15 minutes, and to a maximum of 20 minutes only.
- Once complete, remove the mustard plaster, and thoroughly wash the remaining oil off the treated area with a wet facecloth to ensure all mustard oil is fully removed and doesn’t continue to burn the skin following treatment.
- Repeat the mustard plaster on your back (over the lungs), if necessary.
Important points to remember:
This is a powerful medicinal therapy for lung conditions, so it will work.
The mustard plaster can burn or blister the skin if too strong or if left on for too long. Ensure you are awake during treatment, have someone monitoring you, or set an alarm so that you don’t fall asleep with the mustard plaster on your skin.
If hesitant, adjust the initial treatment ratio from 1:1 mustard powder to all purpose flour to 1:2 (2 tbsp mustard powder to 4 tbsp all purpose flour), then work your way up to 1:1.
For small children, young one’s who can’t communicate how the plaster feels on their skin, those who are very weak, or for those who have the inability to judge temperature on the skin, you can add an extra tea towel (folded in half) between the skin and the mustard plaster.
It is normal for the skin to remain red for hours following the treatment.
For best results, repeat every 4-6 hours (or at least 1 time per day for 3 consecutive days), preferably at night before bed, and followed by a hot bath or shower and relaxation.