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Bringing the Bread Poultice Back

A Fusion of Ayurvedic and Traditional Newfoundland Healing Approaches.

Bread Poultice Ayurveda Traditional Newfoundland Remedy
Ingredients for Nana’s bread poultice with the addition of tumeric for an ayurvedic touch.

Imagine a  four year old boy sitting with a laptop. Elmo is teaching him ABCs through an interactive video game. His bare thigh is wrapped in cling wrap to stop a tumeric-milk soaked bread poultice from ruining the sofa below. This is a memory of my son a few years ago, and continues to be a pretty good example of the mixture of modern lifestyle and ancient ayurvedic practice that you might find happening at any given time in our home (in this case there also a definite infusion of NL tradition). Am I grateful to live in a time that has a wide array of medical options when we get sick? Absolutely! However when it is possible to avoid those by seeking out the wisdom of ancient practices and traditions that also work I am all about that too. Just ask my kids. They have been known to refer to the spice rack in our kitchen as Mom’s medicines.

Before continuing I should make it clear that I do take my kids to the doctor when they are sick. I do listen with a great deal of respect to our physician, who is very knowledgeable and amazing. I also always fill the prescription for hydrocortisone or antibiotics, or whatever is prescribed…. just in case. It turns out however that I rarely need to use them. My love of Ayurvedic and traditional approaches means that before medicating I always try a gargle, or a tea, or slap on a poultice, and by the end of the day the ailing kid/adult is often getting better on their own.

My motivation for returning to the old-school poultice approach was triggered by a common viral skin condition in kids called mulluscum contagiosum. For some reason each time one of these tiny skin bumps began the process of leaving my kid’s system he got a giant circular infection all around it (think 3-4 inch round, red & swollen infected areas!). Prescription creams did not help and with the looming threat of having to turn to oral medications I remembered my late Nana’s milk poultice. I am not sure if she did it just as I describe below but this was how I remember it.

Nan Taylor 1
My beautiful Nan Taylor showing off her fancy new washing machine. She ran with the times, utilizing a wealth of traditional wisdom while embracing everything that modern life was able to offer, right up until she left this world.

How to prepare a traditional boiled milk bread poultice

  • Boil a cup or so of whole organic milk. I also add turmeric. Nana didn’t use tumeric, but ayurveda uses it extensively as an anti-inflammatory so I pull it out for almost everything that ails you. Just ask my long suffering boys, who, in addition to wearing it, have also consumed quite a lot of it over the years for lots of different reasons!
  • Soak a slice of bread in the hot milk mixture. I use my dad’s homemade bread.
  • Wrap the bread in a cloth and apply to affected area as hot as you can tolerate it on your skin. I slid the bread into a pantyhose leg so I could then tie it around my son’s leg. Kids are squirmy and don’t sit anywhere for long so I had to keep it in place somehow. This is also why I covered the whole area in cling wrap. Tumeric can stain, and milk does not leave a happy aroma in your furniture. Ayurvedic remedies can be messy but add the energy of a four year old boy and chaos ensues!
  • Leave on affected area until bread is completely cool.
  • Repeat twice a day. After a couple of days a pus filled head usually forms in the middle, and the infected area recedes. I did this for a few days every time one of those little bumps began their red infection cycle for about a year. It always worked. My son began to call the pantyhose leg his medicine pantyhose!

If you are interested in an ayurvedic perspective on using food and natural remedies to balance your physical and mental health subscribe to the Shakti Yoga blog where you will find ayurvedic/yogic/wellness type posts, albeit at a sedate posting rate  to ensure that my Pitta/Vata personality does not overload.

Happy poultice making all!


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