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June 20, 2018  |  Login
By James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.

Hot and cold compresses are often suggested for physical injuries, as well as for aches and pains due to chronic conditions, such as arthritis. By adding appropriate essential oils to these, you can increase their power to heal.

Compresses can relieve pain and reduce swelling and inflammation. Hot compresses are best for chronic conditions, particularly for backaches, arthritis, toothaches, and earaches. Cold compresses are an important first-aid measure for sprains; they also help to relieve headaches and, when used on large portions of the body, can help bring down a fever.

Often practitioners suggest alternating hot and cold compresses, once the initial injury care with cold compresses is complete. This helps sprains and strains to heal.

To make a hot compress, fill a bowl with water as hot as possible while still being bearable to the touch. Add 5 to 7 drops of an essential oil-try black pepper, chamomile, coriander, or a blend. Dip into the bowl a clean cloth folded several times to absorb more fluid, making sure to absorb the essential oils floating on top of the water. Wring the excess water from the cloth and apply it to the affected area. Replace with a fresh compress when the first one cools to room temperature.

For a cold compress, substitute ice water for the hot and prepare the same way. Change compresses when the one in use warms up to body temperature.

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