I had heard about these pretty much all my life, but until my daughter was about 4, I had never used one. She has such a strong immune system, she rarely ever gets sick and as of this writing, I think she has only actually been sick enough to vomit twice in her whole life. The particular time I’m speaking of, she’d had a bad cough and even my homemade cough medicine wouldn’t clear it up. So I decided to use the old tried and true mustard plaster. Sure enough, it worked like a charm and her cough was gone by that night. It did make her chest a little red because she does have sensitive skin, but I’ll talk more about that shortly.
You might be wondering what a mustard plaster is exactly, and why it works so well. Mustard is actually something that stimulates blood flow and opens capillaries to let the blood flow better. When you use it in this manner, it opens up the lungs, gets the blood flowing and acts as an expectorant, causing you to cough up all the crud that has settled in your lungs. Now, it might seem counterproductive to actually CAUSE a cough, but nothing could be further from the truth. Getting all that gunk out of your lungs will decrease the chance for infection to get started and clear them so you can breath much better. Once the mucus is gone, your cough will be gone with it.
So, how do you make one of these? It took me quite a bit of searching, but this is what seems to work best…
- Mix 1 part DRY MUSTARD (absolutely NOT the yellow variety!) with 8 parts flour. Mix a bit of water at a time until you get a consistency that’s a little thinner than pancake batter.
- There are several ways you can apply this. I chose the method where my daughter lay on the couch, I put some of the mixture on a thin piece of cloth, covered that with another piece of thin cloth, and laid a small thin piece of rock on top of that. No, not a boulder, just something small and light, but enough to hold the cloth in place while holding in the heat it creates. Another way some people put it on is to wrap 2-3 layers of cheesecloth around the torso, starting at the top of the shoulder and moving down diagonally across the chest, like you’d wear a seat belt. Then around the bottom of the ribs, up over the back the same way, and then back around. After placing the mustard plaster on that cloth, you can cover it simply with a t-shirt and wear it for about a half hour. Only for about ten minutes for a child though.
- Be aware of that “burning” I spoke of earlier. Mustard can get the blood flowing enough to really create some heat and – especially for first time use – it can sometimes be irritating to the skin. Make sure the person wearing the plaster knows to speak up if the burning sensation starts, and if it does, you can remove the plaster and wash the skin. It leaves no lasting damage.
I don’t know how these things have gotten covered up and almost disappeared like they have, but I almost swear by them now! Like I said, they work better than just about anything else I’ve ever tried, which keeps me coming back.
PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT a doctor, nor any other type of medical professional, and I do NOT offer this as medical advice. Before attempting this, or any other home remedy, it is always best to consult your physician, as your own personal situation may be much different than mine.