Introduction: Make a Poultice for Lumbar Back Pain

I have a bit of a history of disc herniation in the lower back. It necessitated, thirty years ago, weeks of traction, a year of three-times-weekly therapy, and I got a lot of pressure from doctors to operate. I fixed it up without that but had a recurrence four years ago and, again, ten days ago. On both these recent occasions I have used the local bush remedy, a poultice using sap from the bread fruit tree. My personal judgement is that it has an amazingly beneficial effect. I make no claim other than for myself. *I accept no responsibility for any allergic reaction you or anyone else might suffer from following this Instructable. *I accept no responsibility for any other resulting issues, effects or problems, however or whenever encountered. That said, I know the local indigenous people swear by it. The tree we have has cut marks way above current head height so they've been using it for years. The local Afro Caribbean population also swears by it..... To business!!

Step 1: Getting the Sap.

You will need... A Bread fruit tree, or, here in Panama, a 'Pera' or 'Nispero' tree. A machete, or an axe. (saw?) A small yoghurt container. A piece of aluminium foil. Explain to the tree, and apologise! Personally, I suspect a little time, grace and humility here may improve your recovery a lot! Physical contact would be good as well. You could sing, maybe! Whatever. But remember this living thing is about to give its blood to help you. Be nice. The speed the sap runs out at will depend on tree type and maturity, but it could come quick but not for long, or vice versa. Either way, best be prepared. So, if you mark where you are going to cut, with chalk or wax crayon, you can stick one long edge of a 6in x 3in piece of foil onto the bark, two inches below the cut mark, with a piece of masking or other tape. It should stay there. ( If the bark's very rough you could rub the tape on carefully to follow the indentations.) Carefully bend up the other edge to make a V shaped channel down the centre line of the long dimension.

Step 2: Make the Chop

Get this part right. If you miss you'll be starting over! Take a few practice shots for your aim! Hold the cup under the bottom of the V to collect the sap. Remember......young tree = not much sap = lots of chops = poor tree! Obviously you want to be efficient so as not to abuse the tree any more than you have to. I guess you could saw a cut if you didn't feel confident about chopping. If you do this I would WD 40 the saw blade well first to make it easier to clean afterwards. If you have enough for a second poultice you can refrigerate the remaining sap. I still haven't yet decided if its more effective fresh than after storage. But the tree might be hard to access and so on.

Step 3: Make the Poultice

You will need... Piece of towelling. About 5in x 4in, when folded. Micropore tape (Mp). Narrow and wide for ease. A plastic shopping bag. Scissors. A tea spoon. Mirror? About 1/2 to 1 eggcup full of sap. 1. Cut off the edges of the toweling, ( easier to tape up ), and fold till you get a thickness that will absorb a fair bit of the sap. I used a thin dish drying towel, folded twice to give four layers. Thicker toweling, one fold, or even none, if you robbed the towel from a fancy hotel! 2. Cut a single layer of plastic bag, guaranteed with no holes, ( this stuff is seriously sticky), the exact same size as the folded towel. 3. Put the towel on the plastic. Place the two a bit over the edge of your work surface. Cut thin Micropore (Mp) a bit over one side length and stick half its width up under the plastic. 4. Do the other three edges. 5. Fold each carefully up and over and stick to the towel. Get it all well pressed! Trim the tape. 6. Cut the wide Mp and the same way but stick maybe a third of the width up under. You want 2/3rds on the skin for a good seal. Do the four sides. Trim. I also cut the corners off to help prevent the tape rolling up and off. Mp's sticks well though, so no big deal. 7. Pour some sap onto the poultice. Work it in with the back of a teaspoon. Get enough on so it's a bit "puddly" in the middle. Work it into the cloth until it's pretty saturated and then squeeze it outwards to wet out the edges. If you try to spread the puddle to the edge you risk the sap running out over the tape. And too much sap generally, will be a problem running all over when you put the thing on your back. Especially if you are alone and having to do it standing, using a mirror. 8. Clean your back with alcohol or whatever and get it good and dry. 9. Make a mark on your back at the centre of your pain, if you can, and then where the top or bottom edge of the outside of the big tape will go, so you get it on the right place. 10. Line it up with the tape edge mark and stick it on your back, quickly sealing the bottom edge and working up, in case some sap runs down inside. If you get sap on the tape it's back to square one!

Step 4: Wait.......

The first time I did this I was told to leave it on until it fell off, which could be while. If you've done it right it will be fine swimming or in the shower. Luckily for me I live by warm seawater so I have been swimming two or three times a day, which is great therapy, with no gravity pushing down on the disc. The poultice survives this well. Personally I would take it off after two days to give your skin a break for half a day and then put on another one, if you need it. I have also reinvigorated the poultice by making a very small hole where the top tape meets the poultice and squeezing more sap in, using a regular plastic syringe, minus the sharp bit! If going solo you could extend the short nozzle with a piece of a drinking straw to make it easier to get round the back.

Step 5:

This one has been on for two days. Still waterproof. The tapes starting to roll up a bit but it's still good! What does it do? I can feel a difference within half an hour of putting it on. It seems to reduce both pain and inflammation, but I'm no doctor! Of course you need to combine this with an appropriate regime of rest, mobilization and exercise, and possibly other forms of pain relief. Personally I have had little benefit from "regular" medical professionals, you may have a different experience. It is not for me to advise on this. As I have said this is just my experience and that of those to whom I have spoken. Good luck, if you do try this. For me it's been like magic, I kid you not!!