How to Make a Powerful Salve for Joint Pain
When creating your own salve, there are a few things to consider first.
Some essential oils have a warming effect, others have a cooling effect, and a few are adaptogens – they change depending on what they are mixed with. Your choice will depend on what you have on hand, what you are prepared to make yourself, and whether you prefer something warm or cool. You might reach for a warm salve in winter or a cool salve in summer.
Making an herbal oil on the other hand doesn’t require copious amounts of plant material, and is really easy. A joint salve should start with a good herbal oil as its base ingredient, and then beeswax and essential oils are added.
Plants Known to Provide Effective Pain Relief
Below are some herbs and plants that are known to provide effective pain relief and therefore are perfect in a warming salve.
Ginger is incredibly versatile, and research has shown it to be effective to treat a plethora of conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammation. It also aids recovery after exercise.
When used topically, it has a warming effect on the body which relieves joint and muscle pain.
Aromatherapists use rosemary to relax muscles, but some studies have concluded that it can also reduce inflammation, as well as ease pain in your muscles, bones, and back.
It should be harvested when in full bloom in order to get the maximum concentration of volatile oils.
If there is one herb you should grow at home for a perfect all-rounder, then the honor goes to chamomile. It has so many practical uses. You can make an insecticide and a fungicide. You can eat it and drink it. Or you can use it to treat pain and inflammation by applying it topically. By massaging it in via a salve, it also eases tension and spasms.
Lavender is well known for its calming and relaxing abilities. A number of studies have found that it can also be used to relieve pain and inflammation, especially for sufferers of osteoarthritis. Massaging lavender oil into swollen joints routinely has been found to reduce both swelling and pain, and at the same time, it’s relaxing and reduces anxiety.
One herb that is common in the kitchen whose medicinal properties might surprise some people is the humble herb, basil.
Basil essential oil has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and is known to reduce swelling and fluid buildup (edema) in arthritic joints.
The warming sensation that black pepper essential oil generates is great for relaxing muscles and alleviating tension and pain. It’s often added to massage oil to minimize inflammation and spasms.
Lemongrass essential oil has been used medicinally for generations for its ability to decrease swelling, particularly for people suffering from arthritis. It does this by drawing excess water out of swollen cells (as an astringent) and making you urinate more (as a diuretic). It is often diluted and massaged into the skin to quickly ease aches and pain, and studies support these health benefits.
In addition to being used as an early form of toothache relief, clove has numerous other health benefits. It has the highest concentration of the anesthetic compound eugenol (75 – 80%), more than any other essential oil, which makes it the perfect ingredient in any salve for pain relief. It also has incredibly high concentrations of antioxidizing compounds, which is good for your skin.
Below are the 3 steps you can follow to make your own herbal salve. The ingredients and items you will need include:
- Ginger, rosemary, and chamomile (or any of the herbs listed above).
- Olive oil (or any other plant-based oil).
- A glass jar to make the herbal oil, and some small glass jars for the salve.
- A double boiler (or a pot of water with a jar sitting in it).
- Essential oils. I have chosen lavender, basil, black pepper, lemongrass, and clove for their anti-inflammation, anti-oxidizing, astringent, and other pain-relieving properties that work well in a warming salve for joint pain.
- 30 grams or 1 ounce of beeswax (the 2 small jars below use approximately 10 grams).
Step 1: Make an Herbal Oil
To start making your own salve, first, you need an herbal oil from any of the herbs listed above. I had some ginger and olive oil in the cupboard, and some chamomile and rosemary growing in the garden, so that’s what I used to make an herbal oil.
- Slice some ginger root and leave it to dry for a day.
- Pick some rosemary and chamomile flowers and leave them to dry for at least 1 day. Make sure all the ingredients are completely dry.
- You can put all 3 herbs in a jar filled with olive oil and either leave in the sun for 4 weeks; or place the jar in a pot of hot water over very low heat for at least an hour. It’s important that the heat is very low.
- 4 weeks later (or once it has cooled) you can strain it and your herbal oil is ready to use in step 3.
Step 2: Make a Double Boiler
You will need a double boiler to heat the beeswax evenly:
- Place a spoon in the fridge (you will need this in step 3).
- Boil some water in a pot (you can sterilize your jars and tools at the same time if you like). Once boiled, you can turn down the stove to low heat.
- Place a small glass jar in the pot (weigh down the empty jar with a sterilized spoon).
- Now your double boiler is ready for step 3.
Step 3: Using Your Herbal Oil to Make a Salve
The next step is to use your double boiler from step 2 to warm the beeswax and combine it with your homemade herbal oil from step 1. The amounts below fill 2 mini jars (with a rough ratio of 5-parts herbal oil with 1-part beeswax).
- Add 4 tablespoons of your herbal oil into the glass jar sitting in the hot water.
- Add 8-10 grams of beeswax to the jar and stir it into the warm herbal oil.
- You want the salve to be slightly soft so that it’s easy to massage into sore joints, so put a small amount of the mixture on the cold tablespoon from step 2 to test the consistency. If it’s too hard, add more herbal oil a few drops at a time. If it’s too soft, then add some more beeswax.
- Once you are satisfied with the consistency, stir in the essential oils. Some oils are stronger than others (such as ginger), but usually, 2 – 3 drops of each is a good start.
- Quickly pour your warm salve into small jars. If the beeswax starts to harden, then simply return the jar to the double boiler to re-heat again.
Tips for making a Homemade Salve:
- Sterilizing your jars and tools will allow you to use the salve for up to a year.
- If you’re looking for a cooling salve that will ease joint pain and inflammation on a hot, sunny day, then try swapping some of the warming essential oils for some cooling essential oils. You can swap the ginger, black pepper, and clove oils for cooling oils such as eucalyptus, peppermint, spearmint, sandalwood, or vetiver.
- Other herbs and essential oils that can provide pain relief include chicory, stinging nettle, feverfew, comfrey, pine needles, cypress, capsaicin in chili peppers, helichrysum, turmeric, yarrow, marjoram, clary sage, juniper, and frankincense.
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