Flax Herbal Bags

Much requested recipe from about 2005 on the Longarm Quilting list. I no longer have the names of those that originally provided it, but there were several people that contributed to this article with many posts and suggestions.

Editor Note: I used to work for a Fragrance manufacturer. They created fragrances from everything from the 'lemon' in Lemon Pledge to the 'stink' for military training gas masks.

You can tweek the recipe any way you want (i.e. more eucalyptus if you want it, etc) but you really shouldn't increase the white willow bark. 

I've researched all these herbs and their uses and have found this to be a very good balance. 

NOTE -this makes enough for about 4 or 5 bags.

Suggested Ingredients

    • 8 cups regular white rice (filler)
    • 7 cups flax seed  (filler)
    • 5 TBS lemongrass  (analgesic)
    • 4 TBS hops (leave this out if you have a problem with alcohol addiction, no kidding!)  (sedative)
    • 4 TBS eucalyptus  (sinus reliever)
    • 1/2 cup lavender buds  (calms nerves)
    • 4 TBS rosemary  (headache support)
    • 3 TBS yarrow  (healing support)
    • 6 TBS chamomile  (relaxing)
    • 1 TBS powdered white willow bark (about 10 capsules if you have to buy it that way-this is a natural headache and fever reducer)  (analgesic)
    • 2 TBS valerian root, crushed  (relaxing-anti spasm)
    • 2 TBS yellow dock, crushed (circulatory support)
    • 1 TBS cinnamon  (anti spasm)

All of these items, with the exception of the flax seed and rice, should be in dried, crushed or powdered form.  The valerian root and the yellow dock can be slightly crushed in a coffee grinder.  Use your good judgement, lavender buds and chamomile don't need to be crushed, but you might want to remove some of the sharp stems of the chamomile so they don't poke thru the material of the bag, that sort of thing.  I have listed what each item is usually used for.  I am not claiming any of these have actual medical value or will heal any disease.  These are just their traditional uses. 

Mix these all together (I use one of those plastic gallon ice cream buckets with a lid and store the leftover mix in it, too.)

Making the Bags

Use a very good quality flannel for my bags.  The fabric should be a dense weave, if not, wash and dry it before using it to shrink the weave up tighter. (That means if you buy your fabric from a quilt shop, should be good quality. If you buy it from Wally World or Joann's, you need to pre-wash/pre-shrink the fabric).

Cut an 12" by 10" inch piece and press one 12 inch edge under 1/2 inch (this will be the open edge where you fill it).  Fold the whole piece in half (right sides together) to form a rectangle with the 1/2 inch turned under edge as one of the short ends.  Stitch the 10 inch long side and the other short end using a 1/2 inch seam.  Turn and press.  Use a funnel and put 2 1/4 cups of the mix in the bag and top stitch the folded under edge shut.

How to Use

Heat for 45 sec to 1 minute in the microwave.  I can put one of these over my eyes and forehead for 20 min when I feel a migraine starting and it almost always makes it go away.

I have made these bigger to use as hot packs for sore muscles and smaller to use for children's "boo-boos".  On the bigger ones, you may want to stitch channels in the bag and fill each one to keep the mix from just shifting all to one corner.  If you want to make one of those big curved ones that you put around your neck and shoulders, make a pattern out of paper.  Leave one end open, fill some, topstitch, fill some more, topstitch, etc, until you get it full.  It's best if you leave these bags "floppy" cause they're not as comfortable if they're stuffed tight. 

These are wonderful gifts for people.  Just make sure they are not given to babies who may chew on them.  They could end up with diarrhea cause flax seed is used to help relieve constipation!


Try cutting flannel 18" X 7", right sides together sew 3 sides. Turn right side out, fill with flax seed, hand sew the opening. You can make a cover for it also that you can wash.

Do NOT microwave too long or the Flax will start to POP!

Additional Ideas - From some of my online buddies.

Rice Bags are so simple to make. They make great gifts for anyone with an ache. I have used my current one for probably three or maybe four years. I keep it in a zipped plastic bag when not in use. My method may not be like others, but I used a knee high white sport sock and emptied a one pound bag of uncooked rice in it and stitched it shut on my DSM. You can make two from one pair if you have to buy the socks. I went to the home-of-single-socks in my laundry one for mine. Make yourself a pretty "pillowcase" to put on it. I know some of the gals were using their embroidery test samples and they sure aren't 100% cotton. The reason I mentioned "uncooked" was that a doctor's wife was wanting to make one and she wanted to know if she should use short or long grain, and should she cook it!

Answer: Doesn't matter, and no! Dee in NE

I have made a lot of rice/corn bags. I used a double thickness of muslin for the actual bag and then made a seperate cover out of flannel for them. The cover can then be washed.

Plain rice. not the minute rice or corn from the feed store make grate heat or cold packs. Gloria


I use either rice of flax seed. I put the rice or seed in a large jar and
sprinkle in alot of lavender oil, seal and shake well. I make the bags about 2
1/2 feet long and 3 1/2" wide, finished size with tapered ends. Sew around
all sides leaving a 2 " hole in the center of a long side. Turn right side
out. I measure my neck and center that measurement on the long strip, then sew a
vertical line on either side so now you have about an 11" space in the
center. Using a funnnel pour in the seed or rice. Hand stitch the hole closed.
Microwave for 2 - 3 minutes. Relax!!!! Cilla


I cut fabric 20 X 8, fold it in half lenghtwise and sew the 3 sides with a
5/8 seam, leaving a 2" opening. Turn right side out and using a funnel fill
with flax seed or inexpensive rice. I scent mine with lavender first. Hand
stictch seam. Pop in microwave for 2-3 min. If you hear popping, shut off


I've made lots of rice bags over the years, and keep a couple stored in the freezer in a zipper bag. The ones that have held up the best are made from scraps of vintage cotton pillow ticking, with a flannel sleeve to put them in after warming. They have been opened up and refilled a few times. 

For more gentle heat for both my folks as they became frail, I made a u-shaped bag from 100% cotton batting layered with muslin, the whole thing could be heated in the wave, and then slipped into a flannel sleeve. I think they are probably still in my sister's freezer for her bumps and bruises.

Donna in ABQ.