External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Mustard Ear Compress

Kind of substance

Mustard powder

Guiding principle for the application

Mustard oil glucosinolates have a very irritating effect on the skin, they penetrate quickly, causing a strong burning sensation and intensive warmth.
Circulation and metabolism increase at the place of treatment and the skin reddens. The irritated skin and warmth generation caused by the glucosinolates also affects the nerve endings in the skin, which convey the effect to the inner organs.

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Acute hearing loss



  • Black mustard powder (ground mustard seeds)
  • Warm water (ca. 50–60°C or 122–140°F)
  • Container for rinsing
  • Wooden spatula
  • Gauze, 2–3 x as large as the area to be covered (compress area ca. 3–4 cm in diameter)
  • Protective cloth (cotton wool wrapped in gauze), as large as the compress

  • Quickly mix the mustard powder with water to make a paste
  • Spread the paste knife-back thick onto gauze, wrap it up and apply it immediately; the mustard pack can be kept warm for a few minutes on top of a hot water bottle (covered with plastic) if necessary
  • Place the compress behind the affected ear, on the temporal bone
  • Usually the skin quickly begins to burn
  • After a few minutes of the first peak of burning, monitor the reddening of the skin: if there is no reddening, you can wait briefly, otherwise abort the treatment.
  • The duration of treatment is decisive, continue until the skin reddens and a clear burning sensation is felt, 20 minutes maximum

Take individual skin sensitivity into consideration!

  • Thoroughly rinse the skin with lukewarm water to remove any mustard powder residue
  • Post-treatment rest: 15 minutes
  • The burning sensation initially continues during the post-treatment rest and then gradually subsides

Was successfully applied to one female patient
1 x daily a small mustard powder compress behind the affected ear
Onset of effect
After 2–3 minutes, until the skin begins to burn, monitor the reddening of the skin!
Length of therapy
1 daily mustard compress for three weeks
This treatment has only been described once so far.
No experience treating children with it is available.

General instructions for all mustard applications:
No treatment should last more than 20 minutes (danger of nerve damage to the skin, and necrosis)

Important: monitor the skin daily, later reactions are possible (reddening – hours after the application), making a pause in treatment possibly necessary.
Exercise particular caution in cases of sensitive skin, sensory disturbances and lack of body perception

  • Dermal injuries, exudative epidermitis or inflammatory skin disorders at the place of application
  • Skin that is still red from a previous mustard application
  • Mustard intolerance
  • Irradiated skin

Instructions to download

Case example

A young woman, suffering from moderate depression caused by exhaustion, psychiatric disorders following trauma, with acute loss of hearing 5 days before being hospitalized, severe tinnitus and numbness around the affected ear.
An effect is noticed after the first mustard application on her 2nd day in hospital. The tinnitus decreases, the treated ear feels good and properly enlivened, the numbness disappears, her hearing improves. The patient reports that the strong mustard irritation distracts her from the tinnitus. She also describes a pleasant sense of warmth at the place of application and general physical relaxation.
Only one treatment had been prescribed. The patient decides to continue treatment independently because of its positive effect. Her condition improves and the treatments can be discontinued after 3 weeks. The complaints do not return during her hospital stay (approx. 10 weeks).

During the treatment the patient also received Arnica Planta tota D6 globuli (Weleda) 3 times daily for one week.


Red., TB


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