External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Melissa Oil Abdominal Compress

Kind of substance

Melissa oil

Guiding principle for the application

Abdominal complaints, be they pain, cramps or congestion, are relieved by warm oil and rhythmic, relaxing lemon balm. Physiological functions in the metabolic area can better resume their activity. Processes in the polar opposite region – the neurosensory region – can also regulate themselves (e.g., less anxiety and restlessness).

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Abdominal cramps
  • Restlessness in cases of dementia (see example case)
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Bloating
  • Obstipation
  • The dying process


  In general, no hot-water bottle is used on oil compresses, although it can be done
  when specially requested/indicated. However, this is not generally done,
  so that the warm quality of the oil is not masked by the artificial heat source
  and the patient can generate his own warmth.
  A folded piece of wool fleece is used as an intermediate cloth.
  The inner cloth (substance cloth) can be made of burette silk.


  • WALA Melissa oil
  • 1 hot water bottle
  • External cloth
  • Intermediate cloth: long piece of wool fleece, folded double, in the corresponding size
  • Inner cloth made of cotton fabric (= torn from old underwear), double folded in the size of the area to be treated (approx. 1–2 cm smaller than the wool fleece)
  • Freezer bag (food safe) to warm and store the inner cloth, it can be used for 2–3 weeks

  • Sprinkle the inner cloth well with the appropriate oil and place 1x folded into the freezer bag (sprinkle evenly for the first applications, adding only a few drops before each further application).
  • Fill the hot-water bottle with hot water at approx. 50°C (122°F)
  • Place the freezer bag with the substance cloth on the hot-water bottle.
  • Wrap the wool fleece around the hot-water bottle and freezer bag
  • Allow to warm for at least 5 minutes

Applying the compress:
  • Have the patient sit up in bed, place the outer cloth in the bed so that it will lie under the back of the patient where it is needed:
  • Have the patient lie down
  • Unfold the inner cloth and place it together with the warming fleece on the patient’s abdomen
  • Wrap the outer cloth as snugly as possible around the patient’s abdomen. Work quickly so that the oil cloth does not cool down.   
  • Duration: 1 hour or longer, if the patient feels comfortable (e.g., overnight)

  • Remove the inner cloth and wool fleece, if necessary leave the outer cloth as it is
  • Place the inner cloth 1x folded into the plastic bag (reuse several times)
  • The wool fleece can also be used several times

Used particularly successfully in nursing care for the elderly
1–2 times daily, also very effective in the evening
Onset of effect
Length of therapy
According to need/symptoms

Instructions to download

Case example

When treating a patient suffering from dementia, with internal and external restlessness and anxiety, it was possible to observe during the application how her face relaxed and she became very approachable and open. She talked about her fears and then slept uninterruptedly until the next morning.


Red., SJ


  • Steiner R. Geisteswissenschaft und Medizin. (Erster Ärztekurs). GA 312. 7th ed. Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag; 1999, lecture of March 30, 1920. Translated as: Steiner R. Introducing anthroposophical medicine. Great Barrington: Steiner Books; 2011.
  • Müller SF, Klement S. A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children. Phytomedicine 13.6(2006):383–387.
  • Ulbricht C, et al. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.): an evidence-based systematic review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Journal of herbal pharmacotherapy 5(2005):71–114.
  • Burns A, et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial of Melissa officinalis oil and donepezil for the treatment of agitation in Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia and geriatric cognitive disorders 31.2(2011):158–164.