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Boils

General characteristics

General characteristics

Boils are a collection of pus (dead cells) either just under the skin or deeper within the tissues. Some have channels to the skin and are more easily treated whilst deeper ones tend not to have a channel to the external skin and need immediate attention. They form in response to an infection which encourages white cells to the area in an attempt to kill the infection. As these cells naturally die they form pus and cause swelling, more cells come and the process continues whilst the infection persists and gives the characteristic heat, swelling, tenderness and redness.
There are several reasons for their formation such as infected hair follicles, sweat glands or pores, certain illnesses like diabetes, allergies and immune weakness, poor body hygiene or living conditions and alcoholism. They are quite common in hairy areas such as underarms and the groin but can occur anywhere.
They can be solitary or come in clusters. They can resolve themselves whereby the body gradually clears and reabsorbs them or they can burst of their own accord. Sometimes they become more vigorous and begin poisoning the blood and surrounding tissues, in which case red streaks will radiate from the boil. This then needs urgent attention.
Treatment is aimed at killing infection, reducing inflammation and discharging the boil - either physically (lancing) or by using drawing herbal poultices to pull out the pus. The underlying cause needs to be addressed if they are a regular occurrence. Blood cleansers, immune enhancers and anti infection herbs can all play a valuable part in both prevention and treatment.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Make sure that you have regular healthy bowel movements daily by eating plenty of plant fibre in the form of wholegrains, fresh vegetables and fruit. An apple or two a day, daily salads and muesli or porridge for breakfast will help keep the bowels and therefore bloodstream clean and healthy.

Drink the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon daily.

Avoid sugary junk and processed foods.

Eat plenty of sulphur containing food such as onions, garlics, leeks and also cabbage, broccoli, kale and other members of the 'cabbage'. Garlic has very potent anti-bacterial properties and cleans and thins the blood.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

At the first sight of a boil developing dab on a mix of tea tree and lavender essential oils and continue to use as a topical cleanser and anti-bactrial until the boil is completely resolved.
Echinacea tincture is useful as an immune stimulant and encourages the bodies natural defences. Take a teaspoon in water 3 times daily for a couple of weeks until the boil is cleared. A few drops of golden seal tincture in with the echinacea will greatly enhance the healing process.
A reliable formula can be made from the tinctures of burdock root, dandelion root, barberry root, blue flag, wild indigo, yellow dock root, sarsaparilla and poke root. Combine 50ml of yellow dock and dandelion root with 25 ml of burdock root, barberry, blue flag, sarsaparilla and wild indigo and 20 drops of pokeroot tincture. Take a teaspoon in a little water 3 times a day for the duration of boil outbreaks.
Elecampagne root can also be added to the above formula.
Boneset tea can induce a very cleansing sweat (when taken hot) which can help to speed up the resolution of boils. Take a every few days for a few months to help keep the blood cleaner.
If you notice red streaks radiating from the boil (the first signs of blood poisoning) and have a slight fever then drink strong plantain tea, a tablespoon per mug every couple of hours and report to your doctor.
Chickweed is also useful for applying to the boil as a poultice thats draws out toxins and pulls the boil to a head.
Cleavers makes an excellent tea to help diseperse the swelling and help dispose of the pus and wastes via the lymph vessels.
Nettle tea is a very effective stimulant tonic and can be safely drunk long term for its cleansing, nourishing and strengthening effects.
Alfalfa makes a good poultice for boils, it draws and helps the skin to heal nicely when the boil has discharged. It can also be drunk as a tea to help cleanse the system.
Holy thistle herb is alo cleansing to the blood stream and can help to gently ease away boils and remove toxins from the blood, as well as improve circulation generally. Use with nettle and alfalfa perhaps.
A drawing poultice can be made by combining marshmallow root powder with slippery elm powder. Use half a teaspoon of each and add enough water to make a paste. Apply to the boil and the surrounding skin and leave for a few hours. Be gentle when removing it as it may well have opened and drained some of the pus out. Clean again with lavender and tea tree essential oils then repeat the process until the boil is fully drained.
Another highly effective poultice can be made by simmering linseeds in water for half an hour and placing the swollen linseeds in a cloth  and tying in such a way as to make a kind of bag. Place the hot linseed bag over the boil and replace with another hot one when it cools. It softens and drains the boil and encourages proper skin healing with minimal scarring.
Fenugreek seeds can be used in the same way to good effect or even better, combined with the linseeds.

Natural healing

Natural healing

When touching boils make sure your hands are very clean, do not introduce any additional bacteria to the area in and around the boil.
A useful way to bring out the pus from a boil involves filling a small jar with boiling water, let it stand for a few seconds, quickly pour out the water and place the mouth of the jar over the boil. Hold it in place whilst the jar cools and forms a suction device over the boil.
When the boil has begun to discharge cover it with a clean breathable gauze or non sticking cloth pad to keep it clean.
Do not touch other parts of your skin before washing your hands thoroughly after treating a boil as infection can be easily spread to other areas of skin potentially creating new boils.
Bathing the boil in very warm water will encourage the boil to come to a head and start discharging.
Charcoal tablets or powder (internally or externally) are very useful for cleansing the blood. A teaspoon of powder in water each day will help to speed the bodies natural processes of clearing and removal of the boil/s.
Dry skin brushing (or rubbing with a course natural cloth) stimulates the movement of the lymph fluids which encourages the removal of waste products from the blood and tissues. It also removes dead skin which is in itself a form of skin cleansing. Always brush from the extremities towards the abdomen which contains a greater concentration of lymph nodes. See also 'skin brushing' in the 'natural healing' section of this site.
An old Russian remedy for boils and abscesses consists of a white onion baked until very hot. Cut it in half  then place one half, cut face down on the boil, making sure it doesn't burn the skin. Secure in place with a bandage and leave on for 4 hours, repeating as needed.
Hot mashed potato makes a useful drawing poultice.

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