Cut brown paper up into fat strips. The size will depend on what area needs the poultice. An ingrown nail, for example will only need very small strips, and a sprained ankle will need longer strips. Bruise whole fresh sage leaves (use around 5-10 large leaves) by pounding them lightly in a mortar and pestle or using a rolling pin to flatten them. Do your best not to break or tear the leaves.
Cover the leaves with vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar) whatever you have on hand will be effective. Use a large shallow pan if possible, as shown in the picture. Cover the pan and simmer the leaves gently for 2 minutes over a very low heat. The vinegar should not boil, but just steam the leaves.
Add in the strips of brown paper and allow to steam another 3 minutes or so, until the paper softens and absorbs the vinegar, don’t let them get too soft as the paper will fall apart.
Start to layer the brown paper over the affected part as if you were making paper mache. Use them as hot as can be taken and build up several layers. You can also add in a couple sage leaves after the first layer and layer more brown paper over the leaves. Cover it with plastic wrap and bandage or secure it in place. Leave it on for about 4 hours. Reapply as often as necessary. Vinegar can cause burning in sensitive skin, so be careful where you use it.
This is a surprisingly effective method for dealing with all types of inflammation, it does take some time, care and effort, but I highly recommend turning first to vinegar before popping a pill.
Remember that nursery rhyme, that never really made much sense?
Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.
Up Jack got and home did trot
As fast as he could caper;
And went to bed to mend his head
With vinegar and brown paper.
Well that Jack was a smart fellow and he sure knew how to take care of himself. A good example for all of us :).
Supportive Sprain Compress:
Another method which follows the same principal, and is said to be unsurpassed for healing sprains, is to simply steam 20 or more lightly bruised sage leaves for 5 minutes. Lay them out on a cloth–try to be quick so they retain their heat–cover the layer with another cloth and wrap it around a sprain or other inflammation. Apply it as hot as can be taken and wrap with towels to help retain the heat. Leave it on for an hour or until the swelling goes down.
P.S. By the way both of these poultice’s work great for tennis elbow (I call it computer elbow) as well. Very supportive and healing.