Mustard Plaster – For Stubborn Chest Congestion
Mustard Plasters (also known as Mustard Packs) have been used for centuries throughout the world as a natural folk remedy. Although they have been used to treat maladies from gout to sciatica, today we will focus on its usefulness in treating chest & lung congestion. As we enter the cold and flu season, if you get sick and can feel or hear phlegm in your lungs when you cough and you are finding it hard to cough the phlegm up and out, the mustard plaster can help.
How does it work?
Mustard is a rubefacient, which means it stimulates blood circulation through dilation of the capillaries, which, when applied over the lungs will help open them up and encourage expectoration of mucous that may be trapped. One of the reasons you want to stimulate coughing and moving the phlegm is that it can help prevent infection in the lungs and conditions such as bacterial pneumonia & bronchitis. Exciting right?!?
How do you make a mustard plaster?
Mix: 1 part Dry Mustard – 8 to 10 parts Flour – Enough Warm Water (not hot) to make a paste. Keep adding water and mixing until you get a paste a little thinner than pancake batter.
Get a 3 pieces of cheesecloth or fleece (about 12 inches wide and long enough to wrap around the chest and back) and spread the mixture on the cloth. Then start on top of one of the shoulders (near the neck), wrap diagonally across the chest (like a seatbelt) to the lower ribs, around the back, and diagonally across the chest to the opposite shoulder. You may want to put Band-Aids on your nipples before wrapping, as they can be especially sensitive.
Put on an old t-shirt and leave on for about 20 min. (10 min for a child)
Remove cloth and rinse off skin. Note that the skin will be red like a sunburn. You may continue to cough a lot during and after the Mustard Plaster application. This is normal, and, in fact, sought after, as it will help remove stuck phlegm in your chest and lungs.
You may repeat this once daily for 3 days.
It is important to understand that the warming nature of the mustard seed can be irritating to some people’s skin so the first time you try it you may want to use less mustard seed, and/or be extra cautious when applying, and if the skin feels like it is starting to ‘burn’, you may want to check the skin and be prepared to wash off the plaster. This is not something to be fearful of, just aware of.
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Photo by Dennis Wilkinson on Flickr.