April 21, 2015 | Posted in Anthroposophic Therapies, Basics, Men's Health, Pediatrics, Women's Health

There is nothing like external applications in therapy.


Rudolf Steiner, who recommended their use in the early 20th century for many conditions, once said they would be of incredible value in the future, and from a very practical point of view, we immediately see that this is all about warmth.

Warm and Cold

In our cold society, physical and emotional warmth is becoming harder to find as well as maintain. In illness in particular, warmth is the healer. How we direct, redirect, create, and release warmth is what heals us. Wraps provide a medium for warmth. A very sick friend once told me that when she was sick, the wraps made her feel “secure and guarded, as though she was wrapped in the wings of angels.”

The Cocoon
Imagine being very sick, either as an adult or a child, and imagine a person taking the time to create a “cocoon” for you to rest and heal in. First you are dressed in warm clothing such as flannel, with a hot water bottle at your feet and a warm, sweet-smelling wrap on the sick area. A warm wool blanket tucks you in, and then you get a good story and some hot tea.
Wraps are not just about treatment. They are about ensouling a person who needs time off from the busy world, time to work through some of the coldness of life, or perhaps (as in children) time to catch up, or move on, as they mold into their individual selves. Wraps are all about someone taking time to sit with you and let you rest. They are about the warmth of love, and the warmth of being healed.

Individual Wraps
Small babies respond immediately to the warmth and the essence of chamomile in the chamomile abdominal wrap (coming soon!). Their inability to shut out the stimulation around them at first is comforted by warming their abdomen. Gas pains, teething pains, fatigue, are all helped by chamomile wraps.
In older children illness brings transformation. If their heat is trapped in their upper nerve-sensory region we apply lemon wraps to the legs to redirect the warmth away from the head, dispersing it more evenly throughout the body. Wraps provide a sense of boundary, “This is where I am. I feel safe right here. I can rest here.”
After a long busy day a young boy diagnosed with ADHD melted in the warmth of a chamomile wrap. The “cocoon” was just what he needed to feel who he was. Start “wrapping” children young and they will appreciate the feeling of being cared for, asking for it when they need it. Starting later may take a little encouragement or play (wrapping dolly first), or stories about the bright chamomile flower and how it opens to the sunshine.

Mothers and Fathers
As adults we are rarely cared for unless we are extremely ill. Many of us have had the warmth stripped out of our bodies with the use of antibiotics, aspirin, immunizations, and just our lifestyle. It is rare to find an adult with warm hands or feet. Creating the opportunity for warmth to come back into an adult’s life is invaluable.

The Journey
When we are healed we have journeyed through an illness. We have been warmed and nourished, and given a chance to reflect. Our warmth has been rekindled and we can again greet the world with courage.

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Originally published in Lilipoh, Spring-Summer, 1998, pp. 26-27, Mother to Mother section. http://www.lilipoh.com/index.aspx; reprinted with permission of the author.

Read an introduction to videos on how to make compresses here: Videos: external applications

See the videos of four compresses at: video.sophiamr.com

Print instructions for the four compresses here:

Lemon calf compress for fever,   Ginger compress for arthritis,  Horseradish compress for sinusitis, Onion ear compress

Learn about anthroposophic nursing in these articles:

Working together for healing

The art of nursing through the heart of anthroposophy

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