External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Ginger Thorax-Back Compress

Kind of substance

Ginger powder

Guiding principle for the application

When ginger slowly generates warmth in the thorax region, this releases tension and hardening. The patient's respiration can resume its rhythmic activity. Inhalation deepens and inner peace sets in.

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Acute shortness of breath, with obstruction of the respiratory tract (see example case 1)
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Chronical bronchitis
  • Pneumonia


There is also an Instructional video for this compress


  • The patient can experience the warmth development as wave-like: first a feeling of warmth appears, then it cools down, then it increases again. This also explains the recommendation to leave the application on for 40 minutes to allow maximum warmth generation.
  • After several applications, the skin may become dry and itching may occur. It is then recommended to treat the skin with slightly oily ointments or lotions – but with a time delay, not immediately after the application.

  • 1 tablespoon full of ginger powder in a bowl
  • Pour ca. 300 ml hot water (60°C or 140°F hot) into a thermos flask
  • 2 safety pins
  • Outer cloth
  • Intermediate cloth (slightly larger than the substance cloth) so that the moisture of the substance cloth does not get into the outer cloth.
  • Inner cloth, ca. 20 x 15 cm, folded into 4–6 layers
  • Hot-water bottle
  • Gloves, if necessary, in order to be able to grasp the hot substance cloth

How it is done
  • Place the intermediate cloth in the middle of the outer cloth, and a hot-water bottle filled with hot water on top of it
  • Roll up the outer cloth from both sides and place the rolls on the hot-water bottle so that a small package is formed and the cloths are preheated
  • Take all of the materials to the patient
  • Have the patient sit up in bed
  • Pull up the patient’s clothing in back as much as possible
  • Place the pack in the appropriate position (thorax height, with the upper edge of the outer cloth at the level of the armpit) Open the pack, unroll the rolls a little, place the hot-water bottle on a shelf
  • Pour boiling water into the basin with the ginger powder
  • Immerse the substance cloth in the water and make sure that the powder is evenly distributed on the cloth
  • Wring out the substance cloth (use gloves if you find the cloth to be too hot) and lay it on the intermediate cloth on the bed
  • Take both cloths together and gently apply them to the patient’s thoracic back
  • Hold the cloths in place with both hands and have the patient lie down
  • Place the outer cloth under the armpits on both sides of the chest one after the other and fix in place with safety pins
  • Pull down the clothing over it
  • Cover the patient well with the duvet, adjust the height of the head end as needed. After 40 minutes remove the substance and intermediate cloths: have the patient turn on his side (away from you). Pull up his clothing slightly and grasp the substance and intermediate cloths under the outer cloth and take them out. Have the patient turn back on his back. Tighten the loose cloths and cover the patient again
  • After another 30 minutes, remove all other compress cloths

  • Thoroughly wash out the inner cloth with hot water and hang up all of the cloths to dry

Well-proven in many patients
1 x daily, as needed for several days
Onset of effect
Length of therapy
As needed
Note: In case of sensitive skin there may be a distinct reddening of the skin. Do not apply the next compress before the reddening of the skin has subsided.

Instructions to download

Case example

A 9-year-old girl who has been suffering from a respiratory infection, with cough and elevated temperature for three days, comes to the emergency outpatient department for acute treatment.
She is pale, cold sweaty, completely tense, with a breathing rate of 60/min. and an oxygen saturation of less than 90%, with clear wheezing.
After unsuccessful attempts to improve her condition with salbutamol inhalations and oxygen administration, the patient received a ginger compress on her back thorax. After the 30-minute application, the patient was clearly relaxed, had a rosy complexion and was well warmed up. The wheezing was no longer audible, and her breathing rate and oxygen saturation were within the normal range.
Her mother was initially very reluctant to allow the therapy; now her verdict was: “Good medicine!”


Red., MSK