Hey y’all, welcome to DIY Thursday. This week I’ve seen that hacking cough that’s going around and I’ve prescribed a mustard plaster every single day, so I thought I’d write it down so you can find it later. I also made a (lengthy!) video on how to do it, but I’ll outline the steps and rationale here in case you don’t have time to watch me do it.
First off, history lesson. Mustard plasters are not a new thing- ask your grandmother. This is the way that colds, bronchitis, and pneumonia used to be treated circa the early 1900’s. This treatment even made it into the New England Journal of Medicine for how effective they were during the Spanish flu epidemic. They’ve fallen out of favor of late, which is a shame because they’re 1) Nontoxic 2) Made out of stuff you probably already have and 3) Safe for lots of people who aren’t well served with conventional medicine for those lung conditions. Mustard plasters are safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding!
The basic principle behind doing a mustard plaster is that you’re bringing blood to an area that needs it- the lungs. Once the increased circulation hits the lungs, your own immune system assists you with clearing out phlegm build up and taking out microbes. Mustard is a rubefacient, which means it turns you red. In this recipe we cut it with flour because mustard can be pretty irritating, and it’s even possible to blister the skin. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you how to do it safely and who not to try this on.
Step one: mix an equal part of dry ground mustard with flour (any flour is fine.) Use less mustard for children, elderly, or folks with diminished sensation.
Step two: Add some warm water to make the mustard mixture into a paste.
Step three: Put the paste on a thin layer of cloth or gauze, and then fold the cloth to sandwich the plaster in the middle.
Step four: Put some type of oil on the skin you’re about to treat, then apply the cloth to that area. Secure it with an ace bandage or just hold still.
Step five: check on the skin beneath the plaster every couple of minutes. Err on the side of checking more often than not. You’re looking for a redness to the skin but it should not be left to burn. Do not use this for more than 20 minutes.
Step six: Remove plaster and wash off the skin.
Step seven: repeat every 4-6 hours as needed.
Be very careful with anyone who can’t tell you that the plaster is too hot (infants, toddlers, elderly, diminished sensation, sleeping people.) Don’t apply to broken skin- it will sting. And be careful with anyone who has difficulty with their circulation.
This treatment, despite falling out of favor, is my go to for my own lung infections and my oldest kid, who tries to be a pneumonia factory. Give it a whirl and see how it works.
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