External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Yarrow Lung Compress

Kind of substance


Guiding principle for the application

Due to its moist warmth, a yarrow compress reaches the depths of the lung organ and takes the medicinal effects with it. Lemon keeps hold of the overall situation, clarifies and refreshes – making fever formation for this side gradually no longer necessary for the organism. Butterbur heals the entire (superinfected) bronchial space up to the alveoli. Yarrow (Millefolium = “thousand-leaf”) primarily provides structuring power (sound ether action), which is highly necessary for a lung that has become inflamed, dense and heavy.

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Covid-19-patients with pneumonia, see also News
  • Pneumonia (see example case)
  • Fever reduction (instead of a calf compress) (see example case)


There is also an Instructional video for this compress

With this compress there is the following difficulty to handle: We want to address the lung and bronchial area (not the upper abdominal organs). However, the cloths must be passed under the armpits without getting stuck. The patient’s respiration must also be allowed to flow freely. Nevertheless, the compress should fit snugly. Experience has shown that it tends to be placed too low.

The temperature of the compress depends on the body temperature of the patient:

  • For temperatures above 39.5°C (103.1°F) the compress temperature should be about 2°C (3.6°F) lower than the patient’s body temperature.
  • If the patient’s body temperature is below 38.8°C (101.8°F), we make the compress as hot as the patient can tolerate. In this case it is advisable to preheat the dry cloths, otherwise the compress will cool down too quickly.

In the border area between these temperature values, we discuss with the patient whether he or she wants the compress to be hot or cool. A reference point is also the state of health and consciousness of the patient.

  • Yarrow (flowers and leaves), 1 tablespoon
  • A pot for brewing the compress solution
  • ½ liter boiling water
  • 1 small basin
  • 1 sieve
  • Outer cloth
  • Intermediate cloth
  • Inner cloth
  • 2 flat-filled hot-water bottles (if no high fever is present)

  • Wrap the outer and intermediate cloths around the hot-water bottles and place them in the bed
  • Prepare the patient (see “General Instructions”), who then lies down on the bed.
  • Brew the tea for the compress solution and strain into the basin
  • LOOSLY roll up the inner cloth from both sides and lay it in the basin
  • Lay out the outer and intermediate cloths horizontally and centrally on the bed at thorax height, the patient then lies on his back. Positioning aid: the patient lays both arms stretched out to the left and right, then align the dry cloths midway up the armpits

To apply the compress
  • Have the patient sit up again, wring out the inner cloth, place it on his back and roll it around to the sides of his upper body.
  • The patient lies back, arms stretched upwards, continue rolling the moist compress over his chest, one end over the other, and immediately cover with the intermediate cloth.
  • Now correct the position of the intermediate cloth: ONLY tighten the edges to avoid evaporative cooling at the edges. There may be loose wrinkles the middle of the compress, so the breasts of female patients are not squeezed.
  • Next, lay the outer cloth over it and do the same. The damp cloth must be completely covered by the intermediate cloth. The intermediate cloth is completely covered by the outer cloth.
  • The patient puts his arms back next to his upper body. If the compress is now too tight, it can be stretched as follows: grasp the compress cloths from below under the armpits and pull them apart with a short strong jerk.
  • Place hot-water bottles under the thorax area from both sides

  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Then remove all  the cloths
  • 30 minutes of post-treatment rest

  • Rinse out the inner cloth and hang all the cloths up to dry

Well-proven in many patients
1 x daily
Onset of effect
Length of therapy
Daily use for a few days or longer, as needed
Other recommended therapies
The use of yarrow in the lung compress can be replaced or supplemented by any other indicated substance, e.g., horsetail, butterbur, lemon (especially when there is fever), horseradish.
To administer a yarrow lung compress with the addition of lemon, cut the lemon into the finished yarrow solution and press out. This variation is helpful as a fever-reducing measure for children whenever they have a high fever, instead of calf compresses. If the child falls asleep under the compress, you can leave the compress on until the child wakes up. As an exception it may also be allowed to dry out on the body.

Instructions to download

Case example

A 5½-year-old boy with bilateral pneumonia is treated as an inpatient in the children’s ward of Klinikum Heidenheim. His mother rejects all orthodox medicine, including the antibiotics that were recommended. The affiliated clinic for homeotherapy (homeopathic anthroposophic medicine) is consulted. After four days it becomes clear that we cannot treat the child intensively enough due to the spatial distance between the two clinics. His condition is threatening to go off the rails. At his mother’s request, I take him over to the above-mentioned affiliated clinic.
The child is extremely daintily built, with little bodily substance on his fine bone structure. He is debilitated and exhausted from constant cough stimulation, in need of attention, has feverish cheeks and lip cyanosis. His breathing starts discontinuously, is flat, strained. He has nasal flaring as a typical sign of pneumonia. There’s an oxygen tube. On both sides, retractions of the lower thorax exist as signs of his shortness of breath. You can hear damp rattling noises above the lungs. His heart beats fast at times. His abdominal wall is soft, with massive flatulence. His feet are lukewarm. His rectal temperature is 39°C (102.2°F) at 7:00 pm.
Because of increasing coughing attacks in the evenings and at night, as well as restlessness at night, the child has only slept a little for the past week, as has his mother.
In the evening, the boy receives an initial oral anthroposophic homeopathic medication and a chest compress with yarrow (Millefolium), butterbur (Petasites officinalis) and lemon (because of the fever). Duration about 45 minutes At 9.30 pm, child and mother are sleeping deeply, each in their own bed, facing each other. The boy breathes regularly and without strain, he moans sometimes in his sleep, once a violent cough-attack occurs. The doctor’s visit around midnight is not noticed by either of them. In the morning the boy's temperature is 37.8°C (100.04°F). He eats some porridge, so his spirits are reviving. With the compress and its aftereffect, a turning point has occurred and thorough treatment has begun.
Being able to sleep means that his vegetative forces no longer have to consume themselves in vain, thus paving the way for local recovery and regeneration.
Subsequently, anthroposophic medical treatment is intensified and expanded according to medical experience, the daily appearance of the child and his individual constitution. Over eight days the boy is still quite ill, at night he needs oxygen. His temperature drops in a wave pattern. The yarrow lung compress is continued over 3½ days = 4 times, without lemon on the 4th day. After 14 days the small patient can be discharged.


MK, AL, Red.