Ice packs and tofu and chlorophyll compresses cause blood vessels to contract, so they reduce heat and swelling. Cold packs are used for acute injuries. Ginger compresses and hot water bottles, on the other hand, are warming; they increase circulation by dilating the blood vessels in areas that are constricted or tight. They are used for chronic conditions.
Ice packs—For an injury that occurred within the past 48 hours, an ice pack helps reduce swelling. For a bump, bruise, or sprain, apply an ice or cold pack. Ice should be used after an activity, not before it. Place ice cubes inside a piece of cheesecloth or washcloth, and hold the pack over the painful area. Fun animal packs made with gels can be uplifting for your toddler when she has a minor injury. Keep them in the freezer so you have one ready if your child has a bruise or sprain.
Hara-maki—A hara-maki is a band of material worn around the waist as a belly wrap. The first people to use hara-maki were Japanese samurai, who wore the bands under their armor. A hara-maki helps spread warmth through the body’s core and aids digestion.
Tofu compress—This compress brings down a fever and relieves inflammation and swelling with its cooling effects. Tofu plaster can be used on a burn to relieve pain. When my girls were small, I kept a box of tofu in Tetra Packs in my cupboard, in case of an injury or sickness. Wrap a piece of tofu inside a piece of cheesecloth, and press to squeeze out excess water. Place it on your child’s head for a fever, or other area of the body, for 15 to 20 minutes.
Chlorophyll compress—Leafy greens take heat out of the body and can be used to bring down a fever or reduce swelling. I usually applied the whole leaf directly to the forehead or injured area. Sometimes I alternated between a tofu and a leafy greens compress. This compress can be convenient to use if you are camping or hiking and have an accident.
Ginger compress or warm water bottle—Ginger is warming to the body when it is taken internally or applied externally. As a compress, it stimulates circulation in areas where there is pain, inflammation, or stiffness. The heat in the compress penetrates into the body and further activates blood circulation. Ginger is also good for congestion in the chest, constipation, and tightness in the muscles or organs. Fresh ginger root has a stronger stimulating effect, but you can substitute powdered ginger, if fresh ginger is not available. You can add ginger juice to sesame oil and massage it into acupuncture points, the chest, or areas of stagnated energy. Pour some ginger juice to bath water for increased circulation all over the body.