External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Ginger Shoulder-Neck Compress

Kind of substance

Grated ginger root, or as a powder

Guiding principle for the application

Ginger begins generating warmth within 15–30 minutes, which penetrates deeply into the body, often intermittently in waves. Parallel to the generation of warmth, a slight burning sensation develops on the skin. The warmth is finally experienced as cozy and penetrating and spreads further into the body, depending on the situation, continuing into the post-treatment rest or even longer. Physical and psychological tension and cramping are released under the influence of this intense warmth.

The use of freshly grated ginger root is highly appreciated by almost all patients and is preferable to powder. The moist, fresh root is described as being more stimulating than the powder. At the same time, it takes more strength to face its mild pungency.

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Chronic shoulder-neck pain (see example case)
  • Muscular tension



  • 1 hot-water bottle
  • Outer cloth: circular wool cloth, ca. 140 x 30–36 cm
  • Bath towel
  • Intermediate cloth: hand towel (to protect against moisture), folded in half
  • Inner cloth: a firm cotton cloth to fit the neck, folded to 6 layers of ca. 25 x 15 cm
  • Gauze or man’s handkerchief
  • Ginger root, ca. 40 g
  • Grater
  • 2 safety pins

  • Grate ginger root onto the substance cloth
  • Place the gauze/handkerchief on top and fold in from all sides to form a closed pack
  • Place the pack on the hot water bottle and warm up for approx. 5–8 min. so that the coolness escapes from the moist ginger (do not heat!)
  • Go to the patient with all the materials
  • Have the patient sit up
  • Place the circular cloth on the bed so that it will lie under the armpits
  • Place the bath towel in the neck/shoulder region, with the upper edge at approx. half-head height
  • Place the intermediate cloth as moisture protection at shoulder height on the bath towel
  • Place the ginger packet on the intermediate cloth at the level of the neck region
  • Clear the patient’s neck area
  • Have the patient lie back, correct his position if necessary
  • Pull the bath towel forwards/down over the shoulder area
  • From the sides, mold the circular cloth to the front over the chest and fix it place with the safety pins
  • Cover well with the duvet
  • Pull the pillow deep into the neck (relaxed position and to preserve warmth)
  • Duration: 30 min., adapt individually

Post-treatment rest
  • Remove the ginger pack so that the bath towel in the back area is opened as little as possible and the warmth is retained: open the circular towel and the bath towel, remove the ginger pack and the intermediate towel
  • Carefully put the other two cloths back on, cover, and let rest for another 20–30 minutes

Well-proven in many patients
1 x daily
Length of therapy
Until the symptoms subside

Instructions to download

Case example

A young woman with breast cancer and constant nausea and exhaustion. She felt like she was in shock. She also had shoulder pain for several weeks.
First her kidney was treated with ginger compresses, then the nurse decided to put the ginger compress on her shoulder to treat the persistent shoulder pain.
The patient reported that “the pain could go into the warmth”. During the ginger application the patient became sad and could even cry. The patient experienced these feelings as positive. With further pain relief, she was increasingly able to perceive herself and bear the pain better.


Red., MM


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  • Thiesen A. Ingwerauflage bei Rückenschmerzen. Zeitschrift für Komplementärmedizin 6.02 (2014): 62–63.
  • Chrubasik S, Pittler MH, Roufogalis BD. Zingiberis rhizoma: a comprehensive review on the ginger effect and efficacy profiles. Phytomedicine 12.9 (2005): 684–701.