External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Fenugreek Joint Compress

Kind of substance

Fenugreek seed powder

Guiding principle for the application

Fenugreek is characterized by its strong stimulation of metabolic activity. It mobilizes joint-specific formative forces and mediates integration of the joint into the organism as a whole. Its long-lasting warmth generation relieves arthritic pain and regenerates the process of mucus formation in the joint.

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Osteoarthritis of the joints (see example case 2)
  • Pain in all types of osteoarthritis, especially older osteoarthritis (see example cases)



  • Fenugreek seed powder swells up to approx. 2.5 times its volume when mixed
  • Since it must be mixed hot, it clumps immediately
  • This requires quick mixing – spreading – applying
  • The material takes on the shape of the body, quickly becoming firm and then holding that shape
  • Caution: The paste sticks strongly and blocks the drains of washbasins, it must therefore not get into them when cleaning the utensils

  • Medium-sized basin
  • Wooden board for transporting the poultice
  • Hot water, which is poured in
  • Seed powder:

      - 3–4 heaped tablespoons for knee and shoulder wrapped compresses
      - 5–6 heaped tablespoons for a hip joint wrapped compress
  • Fork
  • Inner cloth: a torn cloth, double the size of the joint to be treated, with additional edge allowances to fold over the seed paste.
  • Intermediate cloth, rolled up
  • Outer cloth (wool), rolled up

  • Prepare patient and room: see general instructions
  • To make the paste: pour the powder into the basin
  • Add running hot water, approx. 75°C (167°F), while stirring quickly with the fork
  • The finished paste must be quite liquid, because it will swell up a lot.
  • Spread the paste on one half of the torn cloth, about 0.5–1 cm thick.
  • Cover with the other half of the torn cloth and fold the excess edges back

1. Instructions for the knee:
  • Mold the poultice quickly around the joint. Leave the hollow of the knee free
  • Wrap the intermediate cloth around it
  • Wrap the outer cloth around both (do not leave any air pockets)
  • Put something soft under the knee
  • Cover and settle the patient
  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Then remove all of the cloths
  • Post-treatment rest: 30 minutes

2. Instructions for the shoulder:
  • Roll up the dry cloths
  • Mold the poultice over the joint, leaving the armpit free
  • Intermediate cloth: wind once around the upper arm to help hold it in place
  • Then wrap around the joint, also under the armpit, if necessary fix in place with adhesive.
  • Wrap on the outer cloth in the same way
  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Then remove all of the cloths
  • Post-treatment rest: 30 minutes

3. Instructions for the hip:
  • Lay the outer and intermediate cloths onto the bed at the level of the hips
  • The patient lies down
  • Mold the poultice around the greater trochanter (joint head)
  • Snugly wrap on the intermediate and outer cloths
  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Then remove all of the cloths
  • Post-treatment rest: 30 minutes

Follow-up for all applications
  • Dispose of the poultice (put the whole package in the organic waste or compost)

Well-proven in many patients
1 x daily or less often
Onset of effect
Pain relief frequently observed already after the first application
Length of therapy
Several days to several weeks, depending on the symptoms
Other recommended therapies
Primula farinosa s.c. (Weleda), see Vademecum of Anthroposophic Medicines
Not to be used for activated inflamed osteoarthritis with severe overheating

Instructions to download

Case example

Example case 1
An in-patient with gonarthrosis in her right knee, pain in her back and knee, and burn-out, received 10 fenugreek wrapped compresses on her right knee over 2 weeks.
“Look how well I can walk now”. “The warmth in my knee after the compress is
especially good for me – I can move especially well afterwards,” the patient said.
She was discharged in a pain-free state and in high spirits.

Example case 2
Female patient, 81 years old. Moderate gonarthrosis on both sides: the knees get cold very quickly, in cold weather they become islands of cold. Then typical complaints occur each time: stiffness of the joints, with pain when starting to move, especially when standing up from a squat. It feels as if all joint surfaces are rough and dry. After exertion, pain develops on the inside of the joint at the level of the joint space.
A ‘trial’ fenugreek wrapped compress is applied to the right knee joint.

The patient’s report: a pleasant, intensive warmth develops in the whole joint, which spreads from there as if from a warmth center into the space under the blanket and then pervades the whole organism during the post-treatment rest. Despite all the intensity and decisiveness of the warmth, it is mild. The developing heat is experienced as being steady and balancing, as a peaceful yet powerful heat, there are no heat peaks, no heat attacks occur, quite different from mustard and ginger.
During the compress, the knee starts to feel like a whole, healthy, pain-free structure and organ. The patient feels how it can reintegrate into the body as a whole. She also feels a reintegration into the organism’s whole metabolic and formative system. This puts a strain on it that becomes noticeable a f t e r the post-treatment rest as a certain strain, which, however, is balanced out again within two hours. During the post-treatment rest, the patient experienced independent warmth development in the knee joint, a wash of heat went three times from there down to the feet.

The effect is lasting: at least in the two-week observation period there has continued to be no pain – even in the other knee joint! The feeling of lightness, well-being and integration has also persisted. The body’s own warmth generated in the knee joint penetrates and carries the entire organism from there, no longer just the mechanics of the joint.
“That’s just the kind of warmth an arthrosis joint needs.”

Example case 3
An 82-year-old male patient is admitted to hospital because of considerable and increasing frailty. There is comorbidity, with NSAID-induced colitis, bacteremia of unclear genesis, paronychia right foot, bronchial asthma, Parkinson’s disease, arterial hypertension. Due to his immobility, an activated gonarthrosis developed on the right side with painful movement restriction. The otherwise proven therapy remained ineffective. Only the additional injection of Formica D3 subcutaneously and the application of a fenugreek wrapped compress brings about a rapid improvement. (Therapy concept of the anthroposophic-homeopathic clinic at Klinikum Heidenheim, Dr.Andreas Laubersheimer)


Red., BH, MK


  • Kusserow M. Primula farinosa, Der Merkurstab, Nr. 4, 2018