Healing from your kitchen – Ginger soak/poultice for injuries and pain.

acupuncture gingerApart from having Acupuncture, people often want to know what they can do themselves to aid recovery from injuries, loosen tight muscles, or ease the pain of arthritis.

The answer is to raid your kitchen (or the local supermarket) for some ginger. This is the basis of a handy DIY external treatment that has excellent anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant effects. It also acts as a mild irritant to the skin, increasing blood flow and mobilising the body’s own healing mechanisms.

I have used ginger soaks and poultices (medicated bandages) successfully for knee pain from osteoarthritis, low back pain, finger injuries, and thumb/wrist pain as part of an overuse syndrome.

If you’re thinking about using these techniques for arthritis, be aware that they are not suitable for rheumatoid or any other condition where the joints are hot and swollen. Also avoid using them if the skin is broken.


You’ll need:

  • A bit of fresh ginger roughly half as big as your thumb.
  • 2 saucepans or large bowls. If you are going to use it for soaking (best for the fingers, wrists, feet, or ankles), the bowl or pan needs to be deep enough to immerse the injury.
  • A cheese grater
  • A sieve
  • A small hand towel or flannel and a large towel to protect clothing, the sofa etc.


What to do:

Grate up the ginger and put it in a bowl or saucepan. Add boiling water and let the ginger steep for 10 mins. At the end of this time, add some cold water so that the temperature is hot but not intolerable. Strain into another bowl or pan to remove the grated bits of ginger (this is optional, but makes it less messy!).

For a soak, immerse the affected area for 10-20 mins. Periodically add more hot water so that the water temperature stays hot.

For a poultice, soak the flannel in the ginger solution, wring out slightly, fold into a pad and then apply it to the area. It usually feels best with a bit of pressure.

This works well for many injuries, but sometimes a stronger version is needed. This should not be used if you have sensitive skin. For this version, you grate up a bit more ginger – enough to cover the area. Put this directly on the skin and cover with a flannel soaked in hot water, and then wrap with cling film. It will usually start to feel quite hot after 10 mins or so – remove the ginger at this stage.

Local reactions to the ginger (like long-lasting redness or blistering) are rare, but if this occurs, do not use again.

Best results are achieved if you use these ginger treatments daily until the pain subsides. For stubborn conditions not relieved by ginger poultices and soaks, it is best to come in for assessment and treatment, as Acupuncture can be very beneficial for these conditions.