External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Potato Compress

Kind of substance


Guiding principle for the application

Mashed potatoes are excellent heat accumulators that can absorb a lot of heat and hold it for a long time. The moist heat penetrates into the depths of the body’s tissues and creates dynamic chaos. This dissolves blockages (tension, hardening), stimulates the local metabolism and the body can form a new order.

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Disc protrusion
  • Herniated disc
  • Low back pain
  • Lumbago
  • Lumbago with sciatica
  • Myalgia
  • Sharp thoracic back pain
  • Cervical pain



  • Mashed potatoes are highly swelling and therefore have a high heat storage capacity: beware – danger of burns! The skin may redden

  • Inner cloth
  • Intermediate cloth
  • Outer cloth
  • Board
  • Spoon
  • A basin
  • ca. ¼ l hot water (70°C or 158°F), not boiling!
  • 6–8 tablespoons of mashed potato powder (without added protein!)
  • Alternatively, 3–4 freshly cooked, unpeeled potatoes

  • Place the outer and intermediate cloths on the bed at the level of the lumbar spine
  • Spread the inner cloth out on the board
  • Pour the potato powder into the bowl and add enough hot water to make a relatively dry mixture
  • Alternatively, mash the boiled potatoes onto the inner cloth
  • Spread the mash ca. 1–2 cm thick on the inner cloth, covering a surface corresponding to the area to be treated
  • Fold the inner cloth over the potato layer to form a pack
  • Apply the compress to the patient in a lateral position:
  • Carefully bring the inside of the mash pack (one layer of fabric) near the lumbar spine area by dabbing until the heat can be tolerated. The patient lies down on the pack and is wrapped in the intermediate and outer cloths. Cover the patient, including the shoulders and feet
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Post-treatment rest: 30 minutes

  • Dispose of the poultice, wash the cloths

Well-proven in many patients
1 x daily
Onset of effect
Length of therapy
As needed
Other recommended therapies
Depending on the indication, various substances may be applied to the finished poultice
Danger of burns (see above)

Instructions to download

Case example

A colleague from the nursing sector who suffered from recurrent lumbago with sciatica always used a potato compress on her lumbar spine area during the acute stage. What was striking for her was how the intense warmth lasted for a long time and was able to resolve the pain down to the depths (“down to the bone”). Other patients with mentally tinged pain also experienced the potato application as having a “comforting” quality.


Red., MK


  • Busse B. Über Giftpflanzen und Nahrungspflanzen aus der Familie Solanaceae.
  • Der Merkurstab 2007;60(1):50–58.