As we know, herbs were the first used "drugs". You can still utilize these natural remedies for a variety of maladies. Since many of the recipes I have offered have focused on essential oils for inhalation, today I'd like to discuss some other ways to use herbs, mainly compresses and poultices. A compress consists of a pad or cloth material(cotton or gauze is the best material choice) that has been soaked in an herbal tea, decoction, or extract and water mixture. After the appropriate tea, decoction, or extract is chosen and made, you soak the pad or cloth fabric in the liquid, wring it out, then apply it to the affected area. Compresses can be used either hot or cold. If swelling, muscle sprain, or a headache is involved, after it is soaked, place the compress in the freezer until it is cold, then apply it. Sometimes it is beneficial to alternate heated compresses with cold ones to help relieve pressure. Compresses are ideal for treating and helping to heal muscle injuries, wounds, and other external pain. To know what herbs to use for your ailment(s), refer to herbal or essential oil charts, where the benefits of the products are listed. The herbs can e used as single notes or you can try mixing more than one together at a time if you are feeling bold! For muscle pains you can try wintergreen, camphor, lemon grass, sage, or eucalyptus teas. For a headache try a cool lavender, chamomile and/or sage compress. For minor wounds or skin irritations, try rosemary, chamomile, thyme or lavender. While almost like a compress, with a poultice you apply the whole herb to an affected area instead of the liquid soaked fabric. First you must boil the fresh herb (roots can be used too), then you squeeze out the excess water. The herb is then placed on a thin layer of gauze, folded to keep the herb sandwiched inside, then laid over the affected area. The poultice should stay in place for for 3-4 hours, then be replaced with a fresh one if needed. Again, the choice of herbs/roots needs to be researched and well thought out, but a poultice of (either one or a combination of two or more) the herbs rosemary, thyme, lavender or chamomile would make a strong healing poultice. Chamomile on the skin helps to reduce redness and sooth inflamed skin, as well as being an antiseptic, bactericidal, and mild sedative. Thyme is reputed to be strongly anti-viral, while also being considered an antibacterial agent and fungicide. While lavender works well on all types of skin problems, it especially worlds well for healing boils, burns, sunburn, wounds, psoriasis, insect bites, and stings. Among many others, Lavender has the properties of an antiseptic, and an analgesic, an anti-inflammatory, a restorative and a mild sedative. Rosemary also possesses many properties, but for the purpose of a poultice it is important for its properties of an analgesic, an antimicrobial, an antiseptic, a fungicidal, and a restorative.