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Hobby Corner: Fall Warming Herbal Salve for Pain Relief

Originally posted November 13, 2018.

Hobby Corner: Fall Warming Salve for Pain Relief

This spring and summer, I wildcrafted some herbs to infuse in base oils for use in making some fall and winter salves. I made comfrey, dandelion and calendula oils. This November, I made my first fall/winter warming salve. Because, like any others, I do intense work as a psychotherapist, I tend towards hobbies that being me in contact with nature, such as hiking, gardening and herbal and aromatherapy studies.

I have plenty of titanium hardware in my right leg, due to a nasty fall which caused a shattering of my tibia and fibula. Thankfully, the break was above my ankle! But, I have daily pain in my knee joint and ankle areas, due to the necessary surgery. And there’s swelling and inflammation around the knee and ankle areas. I limp in the mornings, as I get out of bed. And my toes don’t curl properly. However, I am grateful for modern orthopedics, which surely has helped me retain mobility into my sixth decade on earth!

I decided to mix my dandelion oil and comfrey oil together with beeswax to make a salve. I also decided to infuse some tumeric and ginger root in avocado oil to use in this salve.

To double check their healing properties, I did some research on the expert herbalist website, The Herbarium, where I have a membership. After checking The Herbarium’s monographs and library, I also decided to order some arnica oil to add into the mix. Plus, for its chemical constituents that aid in mood, and its pleasing scent, I’m adding a very, very dilute amount of bergamot essential oil to the mix as well. I use a very dilute amount as I am very, very sensitive to fragrances.

As you can see, making herbal infusions and salves is a creative and flexible process. It’s like cooking! If you’ve been cooking for a while, you know it’s a very forgiving process. Over the years, you’ve probably developed confidence and your own style and take on lots of dishes over the years! This is indicative of an accomplished cook! Making herbal infusions and salves is the same type of process.

Here’s the cooking process for a warming herbal salve:

  1. Sterilize your mason jars first. I also use glass stirrers in my herbal cooking, so I sterilize these as well. For your own home use, you can wash your small mason jars in your dishwasher and then boil the mason jars, submerged, for 10 minutes, or you can “bake” them in the oven at 250º for 15 minutes. I do the dishwasher/oven method so I feel more comfortable about the sanitation level as my family and friends ask me for jars and I want to make sure they are truly clean when I give them out.

  2. Get out your double boiler!

  3. I use gloves whenever handling essential oils, so my nitrile gloves are a must!

  4. Set up your ingredients.

  • Beeswax

  • Comfrey infusion oil

  • Dandelion infusion oil

  • Tumeric– ginger infusion oil

  • Arnica infusion oil

  • Bergamot essential oil

  • I always add some flower essences for their energetic properties

5. Melt the beeswax, then mix in the comfrey, dandelion, arnica and turmeric-ginger infusion oils. The amount of herbal infused oils you use really depends on your individual preference for scent and tolerance of the ingredients. I am very sensitive to all substances, so I use herbal infused oils sparingly and dilute with jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is chemically very similar to human sebum, so most people can tolerate this well. Because of my sensitivities, I use jojoba often.

As far as salve consistency, for a hard salve, the total carrier oil to beeswax is a 1:4 ratio, for a softer salve the total carrier oil to beeswax ratio is about a 1:5 ratio.

Harder salve consistency = 1 cup carrier oil to about 1/4 cup beeswax

Softer salve consistency = 1 cup carrier oil to about 1/5 cup beeswax

6. Add the bergamot essential oil stirring in with a glass stirrer. Again, because of my sensitivities, I use essential oils very sparingly.

6. The mixture had strong herbal scent. Since this is a therapeutic body lotion for my myself, I decided I wanted a more feminine scent, so I decided to add a few drops of vanilla essential oil. I like the scent better now! Herbal blending is a fluid and creative hobby, you can add ingredients to please yourself and learn as you go which ingredients seem to go together!

7. Add your flower essences. I decided to add these flower essences in the mix for their energetic properties.

  • Scarlet monkeyflower

  • Dandelion

  • Star of Bethlehem

8. Pour your mixture into your sanitized, awaiting clean jars and viola!

You made your own customized herbal salve, infused with herbal oils and a personal mix of essential oils and flower essences! It’s your personal daily piece of forest bathing!

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