Thai Herbal Medicine: Traditional Recipes for Health and Harmony

Chapter 4. Herbs in Traditional Thai Bodywork and Sauna

Sauna and Steam Bath

The sauna and steam bath play an important part in TTM. It is well known that these therapies promote general health, relaxation, cleansing of the skin, and detoxification by encouraging the release of toxins through the pores of the skin via sweating. In the Thai tradition, specific therapeutic herbs are added to the sauna or steam in order to enhance these effects, and in order to treat specific conditions such as respiratory diseases and infections, circulatory problems, skin disease, eye problems, sore muscles, colds, headaches, stress, anxiety, and other ailments. Steam baths are the preferred method, so long as the dampness is acceptable, as steam transports the aromas of the herbs well. Saunas, which are dry, are better for conditions with dampness, such as mucusy colds, which would not benefit from the added moisture of the steam. Traditionally, saunas and steam baths are used daily by Thai mothers in the weeks after giving birth, and there are herbs that are specifically used for this purpose. A regular herbal sauna or steam bath is also popular among the elderly, as it is considered good for promoting longevity.

Many traditional medicine providers in Thailand—TTM hospitals, clinics, and individual practitioners alike—have a sauna or steam bath, which is either used after massage or on its own. These saunas do not necessarily have to be of the cedar-paneled variety we know in the West. One massage teacher we knew in Chiang Mai built a small compartment in her backyard from sheet metal. This “hot box” had only enough room for a single occupant, who sat on a small wooden chair. Under the chair, a single electric steamer of the type used for cooking vegetables provided the steam. Even more simply, stove-top steam inhalation for colds and sinus infections can be employed by dropping herbs into a saucepan of boiling water. Leaning over the pot or steamer with a towel over your head is an ideal way to catch the aromatic vapors (although be careful to avoid being burnt by the hot steam or irritating your eyes).

Whatever type of inhalation therapy you are using, picking the right herbs can enhance your experience greatly. Herbs can come from any of the Four Taste classifications discussed below in this chapter. Add about 1 oz (30 grams) of most herbs to the steamer, but you may have to experiment with some herbs to get the perfect amount. (A few herbs are extremely potent, and should be used sparingly. For example, ½ tsp of camphor or less is all that is necessary for a strong effect.)

When using any type of sauna or steam bath, it is useful to remember that rhizomes, woods, barks, and seedpods often must be cooked for 10−15 minutes in order to release their therapeutic benefits, while more delicate flowers and leaves are damaged by heat in a fraction of that time. It is recommended to stagger the cooking so that all herbs reach their peak potency at the same time.

One word of caution: saunas or steam baths should not be used during pregnancy—or by those who are suffering from fever, hyper- or hypotension, or heart disease—without consulting a doctor. Also, saunas and steam baths are not recommended for anyone with agitated Fire Element or a generally Fiery constitution. Even if perfectly healthy, no one should use the sauna or steam bath for much longer than 10−15 minutes at a stretch. There is a very real possibility of overheating, and no matter how beneficial these herbs are, nausea, headache, irritated throat, and dizziness can occur from overexposure to vapors. It is recommended to take breaks and cold showers every 10−15 minutes, and to stop immediately if you experience any discomfort.

The following herbs are commonly added to the Thai sauna or steam:

Herbs

Therapeutic Action

Ginger

Cassumunar ginger

Zedoary

Turmeric

Galangal

Zerumbet ginger

General tonic for health and longevity, decongestant for colds and sinusitis, disinfectant for wounds or skin disease

Camphor crystals Cardamom

Camphor crystals Cardamom

Decongestant for colds, sinusitis, bronchitis or other lung infection, treatment for asthma and sore throat, stimulant

Tamarind leaf Soap nut

Kaffir lime leaf Neem

Cleansing of skin, opening of pores

Lemongrass

Increased energy, stimulation of mind and senses

Cinnamon bark

Ylang ylang flower

Stimulation of heart

Jasmine flower

Stimulation of heart, treatment for eye problems

Lotus flower

Tonic for heart, circulatory system, and blood

• • • • •

SKIN CONDITIONER

Before entering the sauna, one of the following skin conditioners is frequently applied directly to the skin.

Astringents for oily skin:

–  tamarind

–  kaffir lime juice

Emollients for dry skin:

–  honey

–  powdered milk

–  body lotions listed in Chapter 3



After finishing the sauna, rinse and towel dry, but do not use soap!

Herbal Inhalers

A common method of taking in the medicinal effects of herbs is through inhalation. This can be done traditionally in various ways, including steam and smoke; however, here we will describe a traditional Thai herbal inhaler (yadomยาดม) that utilizes the crystals of camphor, menthol, and borneol. These traditional inhalers are found throughout Thailand, and can be bought at virtually any convenience store in the country. They are often sold in beautiful little silver canisters that can be carried easily in a pocket or purse, but they are just as effective in any nonporous vessel.

Herbal inhalers are beneficial for many conditions, including mental fog, respiratory congestion, nausea, faintness, headaches, anxiety, and even simply the need to get through a particularly odoriferous fish market.

• • • • •

Three formulas are given here, all beginning with the following base:

HERBAL INHALER BASE FORMULA

–  1/8 cup (.75 g) dried whole green cardamom

–  1/8 cup (.75 g) dried whole mace (if you cannot find whole mace, use powdered)

–  1/8 cup (1 g) dried whole nutmeg

–  1/8 cup (.75 g) dried whole clove

–  1/8 cup (.75 g) dried whole black peppercorn

–  1/3 cup (2 g) menthol crystals

–  ¼ cup (1 g) camphor crystals

–  ¼ cup (1 g) borneol crystals (omit if not available)



In a small bowl, mix the three types of crystals. This step takes some time and is where the magic happens. If you mix them long enough, they will eventually become liquid. Once you have a liquid, set the bowl aside. In a mortar and pestle, crush the dried herbs (one at a time), until they are in tiny pieces, but not powdered. At this stage, add herbs from the specific formulas provided below. In a large bowl, mix well the dried herbs and the liquid from the crystals. Place the mixture in a lidded container.



Make sure that it is not packed tight; the container should be large enough that there is breathing room for the herbs. Store container in a dark, room-temperature space for 6 weeks. Do not open during this time.‑‑



When ready, wrap approximately 1 tsp of the herbal mixture in small piece of cheesecloth, and place this inside of a small portable nonporous container (for example, a clean baby food jar, a glass vial, or a tincture bottle). Do not use plastic. Herbal inhalers are generally carried with you, to be used as needed.

• • • • •

AROMATIC HERBAL INHALER FORMULA

This formula is beneficial for nausea, easing the mind, calming, and relieving dizziness.

–  Add to the base formula above:

–  1/8 cup (.2 g) Szechuan pepper (also known as prickly ash)

–  1/8 cup (.75 g) cinnamon

–  1/8 cup (.75 g) star anise

• • • • •

CITRUS HERBAL INHALER FORMULA

This formula is beneficial for lungs and sinuses, and general stimulation.

–  Add to the base formula above:

–  1/8 cup (.2 g) dried kaffir lime leaf and/or peel

–  1/8 cup (.2 g) dried orange peel

–  1/8 cup (.2 g) dried lemongrass

–  Any other aromatic citrus that you can find (such as pomelo, tangerine, grapefruit, etc.)



The total amount of dried citrus used should be equal to the total amount of the herbs in the base formula.

• • • • •

MUSKY HERBAL INHALER FORMULA

This formula is beneficial for treating Wind imbalances, increasing appetite, and grounding, as the herbs in it are particularly earthy, both in smell and quality.

–  1/8 cup (.2 g) Szechuan pepper

–  1/8 cup (.75 g) cinnamon

–  1/8 cup (.75 g) star anise

–  1/8 cup (2 g) angelica

images

State of Jīvaka at Wat Phra Singh Temple in Chiang Mai.

images

Devotional garlands are sold in many markets in Thailand. Many are later placed on statues of famous healers in order to show them respect and ask for their blessings.

images

Elaborate off erings are set out for a ceremony at a Lanna-style Thai medicine school outside of Chiang Mai.

images

Statues of rishis are often found on the altars belonging to traditional medicine schools and individual practitioners, as they are revered for their role in the history of Thai medicine.

images

The medicine pagoda at Wat Pho in Bangkok houses a number of stone inscriptions depicting pressure points, sen, and herbal recipes.

images

A statue of Jīvaka on the grounds of Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok depicts him as a rishi.

images

A bustling herbal wholesaler in downtown Chiang Mai.

images

Street stalls selling herbal compresses and medicines outside of Wat Pho in Bangkok.

images

The stocked shelves of a traditional doctor in Bangkok.

images

Chillis, garlic, and other common ingredients in Thai food are widely known for their medicinal properties.

images

Medicinal oils used in the traditional practice of yam khang spirit-healing.

images

Making herbal compresses in Chiang Mai. (These women are wearing masks due to the potency of the camphor and other ingredients.)

images

A combination of herbal baths, teas, and aromatherapy at a Bangkok spa.

images

A platform is set up for Thai massage at a seaside resort in Koh Samui.

images

Texts about medicine were often transmitted by means of palm leaf manuscripts such as this one.

Body Layers and Four Taste System for the External Use of Herbs

When herbs are used externally, in balms, liniments, compresses, poultices, and plasters, the Four Taste system is employed. The Four Taste system uses Spicy/Hot, Astringent, Salty, and Sour. To better understand the use of herbs externally a bit of traditional Thai anatomy/physiology is needed.

In the TTM system, the physical body has five primary layers. From superficial to deep, these layers are:

1.  SKIN, which can be broken down into the superficial skin, middle layer of skin, and deep skin.

2.  TISSUE, which refers to the fascia, fat, and muscle tissue.

3.  SÊN, or physical pathways in the body where movement occurs, such as tendons, ligaments, nerves, veins, and arteries.

4.  BONE, including the joints.

5.  ORGANS, which are further broken down as:

Hollow organs, or those that connect to the external world (stomach, bladder, lungs) Solid organs, or those that do not connect directly to the external (liver, kidneys, spleen)

Understanding the layers is important when using herbs externally, because the herbs must penetrate to a specific layer in order to benefit a specific part of the body. Herbs used externally are not intended to reach the layer of the organs.

images

Knowing the layers of the body, the depth to which the Taste permeates, and what each Taste helps address is important when creating herbal formulas to be applied to the external body. For example, a typical Thai herbal compress (discussed below) will contain Spicy/Hot herbs such as cinnamon and clove to address the skin layer, Astringent herbs such as cassumunar ginger and turmeric to address the tissue layer, Sour herbs such as kaffir lime and lemongrass to address the sên layer, and salt to penetrate to the layer of the bone.

Herbal Compresses

Herbal compresses are frequently used in Thailand in conjunction with traditional massage or as a stand-alone therapy. While there are traditional formulas designed to be beneficial for a wide range of people that are commonly used in Thai bodywork, there are also practitioners who specialize in luk pra kob ลูกประคบ, diagnosing patients and formulating compresses for each individual. Cooling herbs may dominate a formula for an acute injury, overly excited Fire Element, or burns and rashes. Heating herbs increase energy flow, improve circulation, relax muscles, and stimulate nerves. Applied to joints and muscles, hot compresses can soothe soreness and increase flexibility. Applied to the abdominal region, they tonify and energize internal organs, and they are used in treatment of many internal disorders.

Hot herbal compresses are incredibly effective and have transformed many a Thai massage practice with their efficacy at releasing bound tissue and freeing movement (Wind Element) in the body. In addition, most people find the aroma to be appealing and relaxing. The herbs released in the air during the treatment serve to clear sinuses, and to simultaneously soothe and sharpen the mind. Hot herbal compresses are extremely nurturing and relax the recipient deeply, so they are an excellent choice for helping those who are stressed, anxious, or find it difficult to slow down. While Thai massage can be a complex modality that takes a serious commitment of time and dedication to master, using herbal compresses is a simple yet authentic Thai therapy that anyone can employ to bring healing to their friends and family. Plus, Thai herbal compresses integrate easily into a Western massage practice or many other modalities.

Making Compresses

To make a Thai herbal compress, chop or break fresh herbs into ¼−½-inch pieces, and mix in a large bowl. Alternatively, use precut and dried herbs. Lay out sections of cloth of about one square foot. (Any cloth may be used. Simple cotton muslin works well. We find that making herbal compresses is a wonderful way to recycle old yet clean sheets; simply cut them into one-foot squares.) Scoop a large fist-sized amount of the herbal mixture onto each. Wrap up the herbs, and secure the bundle with a rubber band.

STEAMED COMPRESSES

Your cooking techniques will differ for dried and fresh herbs, so it is important not to mix the two. If you use dried herbs, briefly dip your compress in water to wet the herbs before heating. Do not soak it; quickly putting it in and then pulling it out of the water will do.

Place bundles in an electric vegetable steamer or rice steamer. If you do not have a steamer, an acceptable substitute can be made by placing a metal colander inside a large saucepan or stock-pot. Fill the pot with water up to, but not touching, the bottom of the colander, so that herb bundles will not become soaked.

If using fresh ingredients, steam the bundles for 5 min to begin to release the beneficial effects of the herbs. Since you will not be able to stagger the cooking time, you should begin to apply steam bundles as soon as they are hot, so as not to miss the benefits of the herbs that need less cooking time. Steam for at least 20 min if using dried herbs.

DRY COMPRESSES

While steam is generally the preferred method of heating compresses, dry compresses are optimal for damp conditions such as congestion in the lungs and sinuses, or water retention. To make dry hot compresses, the herbs can be heated on a dry skillet before being put into a cloth vessel (at home we use clean socks). Alternatively, a wrapped compress such as described above can be dampened to prevent fire, and then placed in an oven on low heat until reaching the desired temperature.

Compress Formulas

Choosing a harmonious combination of herbs for compresses will depend on a variety of factors, including the topical effects of the herbs, the mental effects of their aromas, and the preferences of the patient. Below are several of our favorite hot herbal compress recipes.

• • • • •

TRADITIONAL WARMING COMPRESS

This is a standard formula that is beneficial for most people. It is extremely therapeutic for the tissue layer of the body, relaxing sore and stiff muscles and increasing circulation. Variations of this formula are found in most pre-made compresses that can be bought from Thailand.

–  3 parts turmeric

–  5 parts cassumunar ginger

–  2 parts galangal

–  2 parts lemongrass

–  1 part tamarind leaf

–  1−2 parts kaffir lime peel

–  1−2 parts kaffir lime leaf

–  1−2 tsp camphor

–  2 tsp rock salt

–  1 tsp borneol

• • • • •

FRESH WARMING COMPRESS

This formula is a wonderful general compress that is beneficial for aches and pains, stagnation, and bound tissue. While a trip to an Asian market may be needed, these herbs should all be locatable in major Western cities.

–  2 parts galangal

–  1 part lemongrass

–  1 part mint

–  1 part shallots

–  1 part ginger

–  1 part turmeric

–  1 tsp camphor

–  1 tsp salt

–  ½ part kaffir lime leaves or peel

• • • • •

SALT DRYING COMPRESS

This easy-to-make compress aids with conditions of excess water, loose tissue, and loose joints. This is the only compress used on postpartum women, as it draws out toxins, dries the uterus, and assists the uterus back to its natural position. This compress is also beneficial for damp prolapsed tissue. Contraindicated during pregnancy.

This is a dried herb formula that is best made as a dry hot compress, although it can be steamed, if necessary.

–  5 parts rock salt

–  1 part cassumunar ginger (use galangal, if cassumunar is unavailable)

–  1 part long pepper

–  1 part cinnamon

–  1 part calamus

–  1 part turmeric

–  ½ part myrrh

• • • • •

COMPRESS FOR NERVE DAMAGE AND PARALYSIS

In Thailand, bodyworkers and herbalists often have great success with cases of paralysis, especially when working with stroke victims soon after the stroke event. Herbal compresses play a large role in the work that is done on these patients, combined with focused work on the sên. This compress can be used on any conditions of paralysis or nerve damage, including stroke, Bell’s palsy, polio, and nerves damaged from long-term impingement.

–  5 parts rock salt

–  3 parts wax-leaved climber, broken up with mortar and pestle

–  1 part whole dried clove, broken up with mortar and pestle

–  1 part whole dried mace, broken up with mortar and pestle

–  1 part whole dried cardamom, broken up with mortar and pestle

–  1 part nutmeg, broken up with mortar and pestle

• • • • •

SIMPLE DRY RICE COMPRESS

This is the modified solution we came up with in a pinch for family members suffering from congestion. Place the rice and salt in a dry frying pan and stir till hot, then bundle and use.

–  5 parts uncooked rice

–  1 part rock salt

–  1 part camphor, menthol, or eucalyptus

• • • • •

COMPRESS FOR JOINTS

This compress contains the Thai herb gloriosa lily, a plant that has a particular affinity for the joints. The compress is beneficial for arthritis, gout, and various joint issues.

Equal parts:

–  Black pepper

–  Clove

–  Frankincense

–  Cinnamon

–  Calamus

–  Long pepper

–  Gloriosa lily rhizomes

–  White vinegar, enough to cover herbs



Grind the herbs gently with a mortar and pestle, until loosely broken. Place in a jar and cover with white vinegar such that the herbs are wet, but not drowning. Let sit for at least half an hour. Strain and place the herbs in compress cloth and steam as usual. Excess vinegar can be used as a liniment for the joints. You can make this formula and allow the herbs to sit in the vinegar for up to 3 months, taking them out as needed.

• • • • •

ENERGY BOOST

For stimulation of mind, body, and energy. The hot herbs in this compress are penetrating and dissipating, so use them to soothe and relax tense, sore, pulled or over-worked muscles, open energy lines, and break up congestion. This was the basic formula used for massage patients by one of our Thai teachers.

–  Ginger root

–  Eucalyptus leaves

–  Cinnamon leaves

–  Kaffir lime rind and leaves

–  Lemongrass

–  Camphor crystals

• • • • •

DRY SKIN HERBAL BATH

We like to use herb bundles in the bath tub, and any of the above recipes would work. However, the following combination of herbs has an especially relaxing effect, and is great for treatment of dry or chapped skin, sunburn, and dry hair or scalp. Add 2−4 unsteamed bundles to hot water, allowing them to soak for 10 min before getting in.

–  Papaya leaves or rind

–  Turmeric root

–  Powdered milk

–  Chamomile flowers

• • • • •

HOT HERBAL PILLOW

Another trick with compresses is to use a hot bundle as a pillow. Lie on your back and place the compress right at the point where your neck vertebrae meet your skull. Another pillow may be placed under your lower back as well. As you lie on your back, allow your arms and legs to rest fully relaxed on the ground, and let your entire body sink into the floor. Breathe deeply and relax until the compresses have cooled.

Using Hot Compresses in Thai Massage

Thai bodywork is a complex healing modality that employs techniques ranging from muscle release point work to indigenous chiropractics (bone setting), and from intensive stretching to deep tissue compression. While Thai bodywork can address pain, injury, toxin release, and relaxation, the primary goal in Thai massage is to free movement in the body. Wind being the Element associated with movement, it is said that Thai massage frees the Wind. This is done by working on the physical pathways in the body where movement occurs, such as the tendons, ligaments, nerves, arteries, veins, and muscles. These are collectively known in Thai as sên.

The sên are frequently blocked by adhesions, or tight fascia and muscle tissue. While it is beyond the scope of this book to give instruction in Thai massage (for that purpose, see the companion book, The Encyclopedia of Thai Massage), one excellent tool for releasing these blockages is hot herbal compresses. For those who are unfamiliar with Thai massage techniques, hot herbal compress massage can be incorporated into an existing bodywork practice (including Swedish massage, hot stone therapy, or any other modality) or can stand alone as a whole-body therapy.

In Thailand, hot herbal compresses are used on areas of the body that are too tightly bound to be released easily through other massage methods, for deep relaxation, for pain relief where tightness is causing suffering, and in cases where sensitivity makes conventional massage techniques too painful (such as fibromyalgia, post surgery, elderly patients, and the very young). It is also the primary technique used in Thai prenatal and postnatal massage.

Steam or dry-heat the compresses as instructed in the previous section. When hot, wrap the bundle in a face towel so as not to burn yourself or your patient while using. Apply bundles directly to the skin or through the patient’s clothes, taking care not to burn them (we typically test a steamed bundle on our own forearm before touching it to the patient’s skin.) If applying directly to the skin, steamed bundles may be dipped lightly in room-temperature raw sesame oil or coconut oil before application in order to not burn. This also imparts the soothing and moisturizing benefits of the oil.

Exchange used bundles with hot ones from the steamer as necessary. Go through the bundles clockwise, so as to keep a regular rotation, and close the steamer lid in between to keep the bundles hot. (You may have to experiment a bit before being able to do all of this smoothly.) Bundles may be reused several times during the course of a massage, but you should use fresh ones for each patient. The cloth can be washed and reused.

When using hot herbal compresses, they must be used gently and quickly when they are very hot, but as they cool down enough to not burn they can be pressed into the body such that they provide compression as well as heat and herbal therapy. Compresses may also be left in one place as needed to let the heat really soak in. When stationary, the heat can become quite intense, so it may be necessary to place a small towel between the recipient and the compress so as to prevent burning. The following are some basic guidelines for using hot herbal compresses on a variety of conditions:

WEAKNESS

For weak and depleted recipients, begin at the extremities and work toward the core of the body. Try placing one warm compress on the stomach while you work, to warm the core.

RETAINING WATER

For recipients with excess water, such as edema, bloating, or postpartum, use the salt compress formula, and work from the extremities toward the core as you would with depleted recipients.

EXCESS HEAT

For recipients with excess heat, use herbs that have cooling properties, and do not use the compress when it is piping hot. Let it cool down a bit. Work from the core of the body out to the extremities.

LETHARGY AND FATIGUE

For recipients who are fatigued, lethargic, and weighted down, begin at the feet and work up toward the head using a faster, more energetic rhythm.

ANXIETY AND STRESS

For recipients who are anxious, stressed out, cannot stop thinking, or cannot relax, begin at the head and work your way down toward the feet using a calm steady rhythm.

PAIN

For recipients who have chronic pain and soreness, focus the compress specifically on the troublesome area. Hot compresses are generally not beneficial for acute, inflamed injuries.

LUNG CONGESTION

For recipients who are suffering from congestion in the lungs, use a hot dry compress and focus it over the chest and upper third of the back. Combine with gentle beating techniques over the upper third of the back to help break up stuck congestion.

Balms and Liniments

Balms and liniments are used extensively in Thailand. They are essentially the same thing; however, the herbs in a balm are held in a solid state with the addition of a natural wax, while a liniment is held in a liquid state either in alcohol or oil.

Many commercially available Thai balms and liniments claim multiple therapeutic benefits, ranging from relief of sore muscles to relief from congestion and insect bites. Most balms and liniments contain herbs for the first three or four layers of the body, and can be classified as either warming or cooling. Warming balms and liniments are beneficial for bound tissue, such as constricted or aching muscles. Cooling balms and liniments are beneficial for excess heat, and acute injuries that appear hot or swollen. While both can be useful for itchy insect bites, a cooling balm or liniment will bring more relief.

When using balms and liniments, it is important to vigorously rub them into the skin. Make sure that you don’t just put them on superficially; take the time to massage them in. Then add more, and massage that in. The more balm or liniment you can get into the area, the better chance it has of delivering its beneficial properties.

• • • • •

FRESH HERB WARMING BALM

This balm penetrates to the layer of the tissue, warming, healing, and soothing muscle and fascia. It is an excellent addition to any bodywork practice as it brings relief to aching muscles. Balms like this are used extensively throughout Thailand, and every herbalist has their own favorite version. Tiger Balm™ is a mass-produced and well-known example.

–  5 parts cassumunar ginger (substitute galangal, if unavailable)

–  3 parts galangal (if you used galangal above, substitute ginger here)

–  2 parts garlic

–  1 part chilies

–  2 parts lemongrass

–  3 parts turmeric

–  1 part basil

–  2 parts kaffir lime rind (optional)

–  1/3 part kaffir lime leaves

–  2 parts wild pepper

–  ½ part camphor

–  Raw sesame oil (you can mix or substitute with safflower if necessary)

–  Beeswax, grated



Chop all herbs into small pieces. Deep fry each herb separately until crispy but not burned. If the oil burns, it must be discarded. Strain out and discard the herb, setting the oil aside. Fry the second herb as you did the first. After straining, combine its oil with the oil from the first herb. Continue in this manner until all herbs have been cooked and all of their oils have been combined.



Next, heat the combined oil and dissolve beeswax into it until enough has been added to obtain the consistency you desire. You can test the consistency as you go by putting a little of the warm balm on a spoon, and placing the spoon in a freezer for a few minutes to see how it solidifies. Once you have added all the beeswax you wish to add, stir in the camphor. Pour into desired container before the balm solidifies.

• • • • •

FRESH COOLING TINCTURE

This fresh herbal tincture reduces inflammation, swelling, and stagnation. It is beneficial for acute injuries that have heat and inflammation.

–  Equal parts plantain, mint, Asiatic pennywort, yanaang

–  ½ cup menthol crystals

–  Clear alcohol (80 proof minimum)

Make sure that all herbs are fresh, clean, and have no water on them. Chop them up very small and place in a jar. Cover with alcohol and press the herbs down to release any caught air bubbles.



Cover with lid and let sit in a dark place for one month, shaking the jar daily to stimulate the release of herbal properties. After 1 month, strain the herbs and add the menthol crystals. Stir until dissolved.

Other External Herbal Formulas

HERBAL LICE REMOVAL

–  1/8 cup sugar apple seeds and/or 1 handful sugar apple leaves

–  Coconut oil



Grind seeds and/or leaves and mix with coconut oil. Apply mixture to the hair and cover with a cloth or swim cap. Leave for 30 min. Comb out dead lice, and wash hair. Be very careful to avoid getting this mixture into your eyes.

• • • • •

CORIANDER EYE WASH

This infusion is beneficial for eye injuries, such as scratched cornea or sclera.

–  ½ cup mashed coriander root (cleaned well to remove all sediment)

–  2 cups boiling water



Bring coriander root and water to a boil. Boil for 10 min, then simmer for 20 min. Remove from heat and cool before using as eye wash.

• • • • •

FOOT FUNGUS POULTICE

This formula is beneficial for various foot fungi including athlete’s foot. It is also beneficial for warts.

–  3 parts fresh turmeric

–  2 parts fresh galangal

–  1 part fresh garlic



Mash all ingredients into a paste. If possible, soak foot in vinegar prior to applying poultice. Apply poultice to problem area. If needed, wrap in gauze to hold the poultice on. Leave for several hours or overnight. When combating a fungus, feet should receive as much direct sunlight as possible.

• • • • •

EAR OIL

This oil can be used for wax and fluid in the ears. Clove oil, in this instance, refers to oil that has been infused with clove, not essential oil. You can find clove oil at many Indian grocers, or make your own by breaking down dried cloves and allowing them to sit in raw sesame oil, in a warm dark place, for 3 months.

–  3−5 drops clove oil

–  ½ oz raw sesame oil



Mix the clove and sesame oil, and put several drops inside your ear, lying on your side with the unaffected ear down.