Days Gone By - stories from the past

RECIPE WEDNESDAY: some old recipes….

Poultice recipes have been around for centuries. That was the major way to treat injuries in the past.  I ran across many poultice recipes when I was doing research for my novels.

It seems that many times different localities used natural ingredients or agricultural products grown in the area as ingredients for poultices. For example, a tobacco poultice was used where tobacco was a main agricultural product.  With what we know about tobacco’s harmful effects, I can’t imagine using it in such a way today.

Perhaps cotton was used in Alabama since it was such a major product in the early days.

Do you have any experiences with poultices?

poultice ingredients

Here are a few poultice recipes from an old cookbook. I wonder if any of them actually worked?

Bread and Milk Poultice – Put a tablespoonful of the crumbs of stale bread into a gill of milk, and give the whole one boil up. Or, take stale bread crumbs, pour over them boiling water and boil till soft, stirring well; take from the fire and gradually stir in a little glycerine or sweet oil, so as to render the poultice pliable when applied.

Hop Poultice – Boil one handful of dried hops in half a pint of water, until the half pint is reduced to a gill, then stir into it enough Indian meal to thicken it.

Mustard Poultice – Into one gill of boiling water stir one tablespoonful of Indian meal; spread the paste thus made upon a cloth and spread over the paste one teaspoonful of mustard flour. It you wish a mild poultice, use a teaspoonful of mustard as it is prepared for the table, instead of the mustard flour.

Equal parts of ground mustard and flour made into a paste with warm water, and spread between two pieces of muslin, form the indispensable mustard plaster.

GINGER POUTICE –This is made like a mustard poultice, using ground ginger instead of mustard. A little vinegar is sometimes added to each of these poultices

STRAMONIUM POULTICE– Stir one tablespoonful of Indian meal into a gill of boiling water and add one tablespoonful of bruised stramonium seeds.

WORMWOOD and ARALEA are sometimes applied in poultices. Steep the herbs in half a pint of cold water and when all their virtue is extracted stir in a little bran or rye meal to thicken the liquid; the herbs must not be removed from the liquid.

This is a useful application for sprains and bruises

LINSEED POULTICE – Take four ounces of powdered linseed and gradually sprinkle it into a half pint of hot water.

VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past

Vinegar of the Four Thieves: Recipes & Curious Tips from the Past

Features: Vinegar of the Four Thieves Recipes Curious Tips from the Past
By (author): Donna R Causey
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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey



  1. Plantain! You can find it in most any yard in our area. I recently got bitten by a Brown Recluse. My leg had a raised swollen place on it, that itched and burned. My father told me to chew some plantain leaves and make a poultice out of the crushed leaves to apply to the area. Within hours the poison was drawn out, and the swelling went down. While I had some discomfort during healing, I did not exhibit any of the flesh loss or infection/open wound often associated with these bites.

  2. I find a poultice made of mugwort to be helpful for pain from bruises and for clearing lungs. After about an hour the color of deep bruises are lightened and toxins drawn out. Mugwort is also great for de-worming farm animals.

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