External Uses of Infusions
What to do when your infusions are past safe for drinking.
A soak consists of an infusion that has been rewarmed after the plant material has been strained out. The affected body part is then soaked in the warm infusion.
If you soak your feet in an herbal infusion, it's a foot bath, an excellent way to soothe and heal the entire body, and absorb herbal benefits.
A sitz bath is a big soak! Two or more quarts of infusion are usually needed to fill a shallow bowl or pan big enough for you to "sitz" in.
A bath is an enormous soak, like steeping your body in an infusion. You can prepare an herbal bath by putting the herbs directly in the tub, but my plumber made it clear to me that herbs and drains are incompatible. Some herbals say to put the herbs in a cloth and allow the bath water to run over them but I find the resulting bath too weak. If you want a strong herbal bath, try it this way: Infuse two quarts of your favorite bath herb, strain, and add the liquid to your hot bath. Ahhhhh!
Enemas, douches, and eyewashes are herbal infusions carefully strained and inserted into the proper body cavity.
Plant material strained out as an infusion still contains healing qualities and can be used to poultice. Simply place the damp plant material, warmed if desired, or fresh plant material grated, chewed, or crushed, directly on the body. Poultices are preferred for first aid and infections.
Make a compress by putting macerated fresh or infused dried plant material into a cloth. Compressing is recommended when using hairy herbs like Comfrey leaf which irritate sensitive skin. They are less messy than poultices, and are often the choice when dealing with internal organs and growths.
For a fomentation, take a clean washcloth or a small cotton towel, soak it in a heated infusion, wring it out, and apply. Fomentations treat breast congestion, sprains, muscle aches, and the like.