Cotton - traditional medicine

Cotton seeds and leaves feature in traditional South Asian medicine. In various forms, they are taken internally and applied externally to treat a range of conditions. Preparations containing cotton are notably used as a therapy for skin problems and injuries.

Cotton remedies

For headaches, a drink is made from powdered cotton seeds and mixed with milk. Dysentery is also treated with an infusion of seeds and leaves.
Cotton seeds covered with fuzzy linters, from the Economic Botany Collection at Kew Gardens.
Image: Cotton seeds from Kew's Economic Botany Collection.

Spots and other skin conditions are treated using cotton seed or extracts from the leaves. The leaf extract can also be made into a pounlice to ease painful joints.

For mild burns, the seeds are ground and mixed with ginger and water to form a paste which is smeared onto the affected area.

Snake bites and scorpion stings can be treated using infusions or mixtures of the seeds and leaves, sometimes in combination with mustard seeds.

Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani physicians use cotton to treat blood circulation and ear problems, colds, diarrhoea and gout.

This information is provided for general interest only. It is not intended as guidance for medicinal use. Further information on using herbal medicines is available.