On long, hot summer days there are two ways herbalists like to cool down. The first is with a chilled herbal tea. These are both delicious and refreshing - try our Rose & Hibiscus blend on ice if you don’t believe us! The second is with a cooling herbal compress.
In this blog we’re taking a closer look at the power of herbal compresses, including:
- What are cold herbal compresses and what are their benefits?
- How can I make a herbal compress?
- What are some great recipes for cooling herbal compresses for hot summer days?
- What else can herbal compresses be used for?
What is a herbal compress and how do I make one?
A herbal compress is what you get when you soak a natural fibre cloth in a liquid herbal preparation. Compresses are easy to make and a versatile way to apply cooling herbs to the skin. It’s the perfect way to take your temperature down during summer days.
You can make a compress in a few simple steps:
1. Before you can put a herbal compress to work, you’re going to need a cooled-down herbal infusion – or another kind of liquid herbal preparation
To make a herbal tea/infusion, you should:
- Take one teaspoon of dried herbs or a small handful or fresh herbs per cup of boiling water
- Place the herbs in a teapot and pour on boiling water
- Leave to infuse for 10-15 min and then strain
- Cover and store in the fridge to cool down — it will keep for a couple of days
2. Once it’s nice and cool, you can soak a clean cloth or flannel in the herbal infusion. We recommend using a cloth made of natural fibres, like linen or cotton — and organic if possible (particularly for cotton)
3. Squeeze the excess liquid out of it
4. Apply to your forehead, to your neck, or to any other affected areas
Repeat as much as you’d like — you can refresh it when the compress starts to reach your body temperature.
Before you rush off to make your infusion, bear in mind that some herbs have constituents that are sensitive to high temperatures (like marshmallow and plantain leaf). These herbs can be infused in cold water directly, but the process takes a little longer. Leave those for 10-12 hours before you use them in a compress.
If you don’t want to bother with the herbal elements, you can also make a cold compress purely from water and essential oils. Add a couple of drops of essential oil – peppermint or lavender for example — to a bowl of cold water. Mix it well and soak your cloth into the mixture. Be careful not to put too many drops of essential oils, as they can irritate the skin or the eyes if you put the compress on your forehead. Stick to a couple of drops per bowlful of water.
Soothing Herbal Compress Recipes
The simple gesture of applying a cold cloth to your skin is incredibly soothing and relaxing, especially when it’s hot. Herbs add even more benefits to the equation. Once the herbs in your infusion and their constituents are in contact with your skin, they will be absorbed into tiny capillaries under the surface and then circulated around the body.
In addition to helping you cool down, compresses can be a super effective way to relieve headaches, abdominal pain, sunburns, menstrual pain, backaches and painful joints. In the following section, we will give you some ideas for compresses which can help with all of the above.
Just like with herbal teas, herbal compresses offer endless possibilities! We hope the ideas below can bring some helpful inspiration to cool you down and bring relief to other minor issues. Bear in mind, the products mentioned are mostly teas and designed to be infused and ingested. But they can also double up as cold compresses for when you need them!
Cool down headaches with a compress of our chilled Headease tea on your forehead
Our Headease tea has been primarily designed to be taken internally, as a tea (you can enjoy it hot or cold). But if you are suffering from headaches, why not make yourself a large pot of it and set aside some of the infusion to cool down in the fridge and apply it as a compress as and when needed? The cold infusion will keep for a couple of days in a closed container in the fridge. You can use this to complement our Headease balm as well, which includes some of the same herbs but in the form of a balm to be massaged on your temples, forehead and neck.
Support your digestion with a compress of refreshing Mint
Summertime barbecues (even veggie ones!) and celebratory meals with friends and family can leave you struggling to digest in the hot weather. Our Mint tea combines the cooling powers of peppermint with the sweeter, gentler fragrance of spearmint and the aromatic, cheerful taste of fennel seeds. It is lovely as an iced herbal tea — and you can also leave some of it aside for a compress to help you process all of the food during an afternoon nap or through the night.
Cool down mild sunburns with Rose and lemon balm
Our Rose, lemon balm and jasmine blend is a wonderfully cooling, fragrant and relaxing herbal tea. The cooling and anti-inflammatory powers of the herbs included in it can be also be applied in a topical herbal compress to any sunburnt areas of your skin. You can also add a drop of lavender or peppermint essential oil to the cooled down tea before you apply it to the skin. Some aloe vera gel can also go a long way to soothe and heal sunburn.
Soothe menstrual cramps with a compress on your lower belly
Going through your period during a hot summer’s day is never comfortable. Our Menstrual support tea brings hormone-balancing and pain-relieving herbs that can help bring comfort and relief throughout your period — and it can also be enjoyed chilled, both as a drink and as a compress. Simply lie down and apply the mildly cold compress to your lower belly, refreshing and repeating as much as you’d like. You can alternate the compresses with gentle massages with our rather warming Menstrual balm, a spicy and floral balm that can also ease cramps, spasms, pains, soreness, bloating and anxiety that often accompany periods for so many women. Alternating a gently warming balm and a refreshing herbal compress can be really effective at providing relief — especially when temperatures do not allow the use of a hot water bottle!
Bring relief to aching joints with a compress of our Joint and Muscle tea
Although a hot bath is often tempting when you’re suffering from stiff or sore muscles or joints, in the hot weather it may not be such a nice idea. You can also infuse some of our Joint and muscle tea, let it cool down and enjoy it cold, and give it a try as a compress – possibly alternating it with our Joint and muscle balm. But it is very important not to use this one on a cloth whose colour you feel strongly about – or near any clothes or bed linen that you wouldn’t like to stain. Since this mix contains turmeric, it will likely leave some memories on any fabrics it touches – so tread carefully :)