An inflammation is one of the body's ways of responding to damage or threat. It may be provoked by bacteria, injury, or contact with irritants, and is an indication that the defence mechanisms are being mobilised. To this extent, inflammation can be seen as a useful process, as the increased blood supply and locally raised temperature both serve to neutralise infections and speed healing.

However, inflammation often continues beyond the point where it is helping the healing process and gives rise to considerable pain or itching and then it is helpful to be able to reduce it. Camomile is the anti-inflammatory oil par excellence with its cooling, soothing, pain killing actions. Lavender comes a close second, and Myrrh is another to be borne in mind, particularly if the inflammation is associated with a wound that is slow to heal. An example might be a deeply embedded splinter or a cut that has become infected.

Where painful swellings are associated with the inflammation, hot compresses are valuable but where there is surface inflammation, such as is seen in contact dermatitis, bathing with a cool solution of one of these oils is better. Add a few drops of Camomile to some boiled water cooled to a little below blood heat and gently swab the inflamed areas as often as wished.

Inflammation may be internal, as in arthritis, cystitis, etc. and helpful methods are described in the entries for those conditions.

See also Witch Hazel.

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