The definition of a compress is a pad of lint or other absorbent material pressed on to part of the body to relieve inflammation or stop bleeding. It is through the Latin language that we call it "a compress“ from the original term com meaning ‘together’ and premere ‘to press’. Compress directly means ‘pressed together’.
There are hot and cold compresses that need to be used at different times or for different injuries. A cold compress is best used for inflammation including headaches, bruises, recent injury (sprains, etc.) and to slow bleeding and additional damage through swelling. To create an effective cold compress mix 6 drops of essential oil(s) and 1 tablespoon salt in an empty bowl and then fill the bowl with cold water and a suitable hydrolat if desired. To treat soak a piece of cloth or a flannel wring it out and cover the affected area, repeating for 5 to 15 minutes as needed. Cold compresses can be applied several times a day to reduce itching and inflammation.
A hot compress can help relax and loosen tissues, and to stimulate blood flow to the area. By stimulating the circulation and relaxing the muscular system a warm compress stimulates the bodies own ability to heal. To create an effective warm compress do the same as above but add the essential oils to a carrier oil rather than salt and add warm water rather than hot. For muscular aches it is best to use analgesic oils such as those high in alcohols like Cornmint and Peppermint. Lavender and roman chamomile are also useful. You can apply warm compresses to help an abscess drain and heal faster.
Whilst analgesic oils can help in most situations anti inflammatory oils are also good to use particular in instance of sprain and menstrual cramps. Women with menstrual cramps have high levels of prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGF2) which when released into the blood stream in high levels causes the uterus to spasm so the best oils are those that are anti inflammatory and antispasmodic including Clary Sage, Cypress and Rosemary.