Proven household remedies: wraps and compresses

 Almost everyone has tried the famous calf wrap for  fever . For simple illnesses such as mild  colds  , wraps are an effective means of activating the body’s own powers. A quark wrap, on the other hand, can be used to treat various skin diseases such as neurodermatitis,  sunburn  or insect bites. It has also proven effective in treating sore throats and breast infections in breastfeeding mothers. Here are a few useful tips on how to put on the wrap correctly and a small selection of the possible uses.

Wraps as great-grandmother’s home remedy

Vinzenz Prießnitz (1799 – 1851) and Sebastian  Kneipp  (1821 – 1897) used wraps – for larger body surfaces and compresses for individual parts of the body – very successfully in their natural medicine. In the “classic” Prießnitz wrap, which is used to  treat a sore throat  , a thin cloth is dipped one-third into cold water and folded up so that the wet, cold side lies on top of two dry layers. The wet side is now placed on the front neck and secured with a dry cloth. The wrap cools and has a pain-relieving effect.

Original Kneipp wraps consist of three different towels, the wet linen towel on the inside, a cotton towel as an intermediate layer and a woolen towel on the outside. There are different ready-to-use sets available in pharmacies, but tea towels, bed linen and terry towels can also be used. A basic distinction is made between  hot and cold  wraps:

  • Hot wraps promote blood circulation and have an antispasmodic effect.
  • Cold wraps draw heat away, thereby reducing fever and relieving inflammation. They should be removed when they have warmed up.

Wraps usually consist of an outer and an inner cloth. Natural fabrics such as linen, cotton or wool have proven themselves in use – synthetic fabrics should not be used as they accumulate heat and moisture. With all wraps, both warm and cold, the feet must first be warm (possibly warm them up first with a hot-water bottle).

It is very important that the patient feels comfortable with the wrap. It must therefore not be too loose or too tight. In addition, the temperature must be right: too much heat leads to  burns  and discomfort. If the patient begins to freeze, the wrap should be removed immediately.

Calf wraps for fever – or vinegar socks

The most well-known of the cold wraps is the calf wrap. It helps lower body temperature by one degree. It is important that it should not be used if the patient is shivering – this is a sign that the fever is still increasing. Dip a linen or cotton cloth in cold water and wring it out so that it doesn’t drip.

The cloth is wrapped tightly but not too tightly around the calf. Now a second, dry cloth comes over it. It should completely cover the bottom cloth. A third wool cloth forms the conclusion. It must not scratch the skin. Alternatively, you can also put on wool stockings. The wrap is removed after half an hour and can be reapplied after an hour if necessary.

Instead of the wraps, you can also simply use socks that you have previously dipped in cold vinegar water. Longer, dry stockings are then pulled over the wet socks. If necessary, this treatment can be repeated two to three times.

Foot wraps for sprains, difficulty falling asleep and headaches

You need three square cloths that are not too small (about 50 x 50 cm), which are folded into a triangle. You moisten the inner cloth, put the two dry cloths over it so that they all lie on top of each other. You place your foot in the middle of the inner cloth, fold the tip of the cloth over the back of your foot, first fold the right and then the left corner under your foot and possibly tuck them together under the sole of your foot, fold in the intermediate cloth and the woolen cloth in the same way.

Wraps and compresses for colds

This application supports self-healing in the case of congested bronchi: Dip a cotton cloth (approx. 40 x 190 cm) in hot water, wring it out and then wrap it tightly around your upper body – from the armpits to the lower ribs. On top of that comes an intermediate cloth and finally a woolen cloth. Leave the wrap as long as it feels warm (usually about 30 minutes).

Caution:  Do not use the chest wrap if you have a fever.

If the cold has also settled in the sinuses, a wrap with  healing earth  or  linseed  can provide relief. To do this, stir two to three teaspoons of healing earth into warm water. Instead of healing clay, use five tablespoons of flaxseed in two cups of water, and boil the flaxseed until soft. Spread the slightly cooled porridge evenly on a cloth, cover it well with another cloth and place this compress on the nose area for about twenty minutes. The heat promotes blood circulation and in this way supports healing.

Wraps for joint problems: healing earth or mustard flour

Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease, affects many people. Instead of strong painkillers, more and more tried and tested home remedies are used to help alleviate the symptoms. This is how the active ingredients of the healing earth unfold particularly well under a wrap: You mix the healing earth with water to create a spreadable paste, spread this thickly on the painful areas and wrap the joint with a damp cloth, over which a cotton cloth and finally the woolen cloth to be wrapped. The wrap can remain on the skin for one to two hours, then the healing clay will begin to dry.

Not suitable for acute inflammation, but for chronic pain: mustard flour. You can buy this in the pharmacy: mix three to four tablespoons of black mustard flour with warm to hot water (maximum 60 degrees), apply this porridge to a gauze bandage or cotton cloth and cover with another gauze bandage – this mixture must not come directly onto the skin, it burns! This wrap comes on the skin and is well covered with another cloth. After 10 to 15 minutes this wrap should come off again. This method has also proven effective for  lumbago , nerve pain or headaches, sciatica or rheumatism.

Envelopes and wraps for abdominal complaints

Sebastian Kneipp used the abdominal wrap for all stomach and bowel complaints, which often brought relief. A warm wrap around the stomach, which you can also soak in oils like lavender, olive, or castor oil, helps with  gasdiarrheanausea ,  and  trouble sleeping . A warm loin wrap is suitable for kidney and  bladder infections  . A cold compress should be  used for constipation  .

The knowledge of simple home remedies such as wraps and compresses has decreased with the triumph of drug therapy, but is increasingly being supported by doctors of all disciplines. In many cases, for example, “nappy changing courses” are offered at adult education centers, where you get all sorts of useful tips in addition to the correct wrapping technique.

All in all, it can be said that wraps could even be used for serious illnesses – in addition to conventional medical or naturopathic methods. However, it is important that the patients and their carers do not overestimate their medical competence and always consult the doctor if the course of the disease is unclear.

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