As a general rule, if it hurts, I put cabbage on it. There is one exception this rule: don’t put cabbage on inflamed skin; it will make it worse. But for problems beneath the skin, it works to the bone. It kills infection and stops inflammation, apart from its tendency to irritate thin skin. Take out inflammation, and you take out pain. I’ve used cabbage to good effect on: strains; sprains; toothache; back pain; abscesses; bot fly maggots (it blocked their breathing holes and made them crawl out onto the skin); mastitis; bladder infection; kidney pain; surgery stitches; tumors; and even lungs painful with flu. It is commonly used in the South to help dry up milk when weaning.
The book that I got this remedy from, Organic Garden Medicine: the medical uses of vegetables, fruits and grains (by Dr. Jean Valnet, translated from the French and published by Erbonia Books, New Platz, New York, 1975), had three cases of it curing gangrene, both traumatic and arteriosclerotic. It was terse in its treatment of most plants, only devoting ½ to 1½ pages to each; cabbage got 20 pages. Besides the external poultice, it’s used internally as an antibiotic in curing ulcers. Sauerkraut combines the best effects of cabbage and vinegar in stopping acid reflux.
To make a cabbage poultice: take some cabbage leaves off the head; cut the big rib out of the middle of each; flatten the thinner portions of leaf with a rolling pin or bottle; and put it on the part that hurts with an elastic (Ace) bandage. For larger poultices and on thin skin, spread the leaves on half of a paper towel and fold it over the cabbage before flattening to make it easier to apply. Cabbage works through the paper; cheese cloth or thin cotton would work as well. On the thicker skin of the face, hands, and feet, it will absorb and stick better without the paper towel; on thin skin, the paper towel can protect against irritation.
Cabbage is a member of the mustard family. It’s a strong remedy; don’t overdo the crushing when you roll it; just flatten it for best skin contact. One woman thought it would work better if she put it through a blender; she burned the heck out of her skin.
Don’t put the bandage on too tight. If it hurts more after you put it on, it’s wound too tight; loosen it; it should feel cool and soothing. Change it when it starts to get hot and irritating, at least every 8 hours, as often as two hours with a bad infection. For long-term use, leave it off for 8-12 hours per day to rest the skin.