20 May 2009

For those aching muscles

Coming out of winter, and into the physical work of preparing ground, planting and weeding in the spring garden, we use muscles that lay dormant all winter. After the long dark, it feels great to be working outside and using all those muscles again. But they do sometimes ache at the end of a particularly productive day.

I have been slowly starting a medicinal herb garden, so this spring, I have some herbs to make my first herbal remedies, other than teas, teas, teas.

Comfrey Salve

Comfrey Liniment

I looked through my herbal books for what to use on sore muscles. Really, sore muscles need rest, but there is also tissue to heal, inflammation to reduce, and pain to relieve. Comfrey does the job very well of aiding the healing of muscles, as well as bones. Mullein can help reduce swelling, and relieve joint pain. Mint is a muscle relaxant, as well as having a pleasing aroma. Rosemary reduces inflammation. And Clove relieves pain. Sounds good to me.

To make the salve I started with a base of 8 ounces high-quality home rendered lard (although most prefer to use high quality olive oil or other vegetable oil). While the lard warmed on the stove, I finely chopped 1 1/2 ounces fresh Comfrey leaf, 1/2 ounce fresh Mullein leaf, 1/2 ounce fresh Mint leaf, and added the fresh herbs to the oil, along a heaping tablespoon dried Rosemary, and a dozen whole Cloves. To release the volatile oils of the herbs, mash the herbs with the back of a spoon every few minutes, and keep the pot covered in between, so that the oils do not escape. Keep a close eye on the hot oil, and gently cook it over a low heat for two hours. Cover and let cool for 8 hours. In the case of vegetable oil, you will be able to filter the herbs through a muslin cloth, being sure to squeeze every last drop of oil from the herbs. In the case of lard, re-melt the fat, just to the liquid stage, then filter as above into a wide mouth half-pint glass jar. In the case of vegetable oil, re-heat the filtered oil to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and add 1/2 ounce of melted beeswax, stir well, and pour into your jar. The salve is ready to use as soon as it has cooled. Massage it well into the skin for deep tissue relief. It provides relief for about 6 hours, and can be applied 3 or more times a day. For extra pain relief, we use it in combination with Arnica cream.

8 ounces of fresh herbs were used to make the liniment. I used 5 ounces finely chopped Comfrey leaf, 2 ounces finely chopped Mullein leaf, and 1 ounce finely chopped Mint. Place the herbs in a jar with a well-fitting lid (like a wide mouth quart mason jar), and fill just to cover with Apple Cider Vinegar, about 1 1/2 cups. Liniments can also be made with alcohol, but Apple Cider vinegar has it's own benefits for sore or fatigued muscles. It is basically a herb vinegar, allowing the herbs to soak in the vinegar for at least a week, or up to a month. Place the jar in a dark place, like a cupboard or cabinet where the temperature will be consistent, and shake the jar vigorously twice a day. When you are ready to use your liniment, filter the herbs, and if desired, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil for a softer, massage oil consistency. If you add the oil, be sure to shake the liniment before each use. We use the liniment as a preventative, before doing heavy work or exercise. Apply it directly to the major muscle groups and rub it into the skin, it absorbs quickly. It also provides a more instant relief to sore muscles, working in combination with the deep tissue salve to rejuvenate and regenerate sore, strained muscles.


Becca's Dirt said...

That is a nice lesson. You have done a lot of research on this and it looks like you have certainly come up with something. Are you going to bottle it or share it? Good idea for you to do this. We all need help with the old tired muscles and arthritis. Becca

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Guess what I just identified in my garden? Comfrey! We only moved here a little over a year ago and I had no idea last year what that plant with the odd furry leaves and tiny purple blooms was until I came upon a picture last week identifying it as comfrey! I would love a more detailed recipe on your linament you made...proportions of vinegar to chopped comfrey. Did you use all the other herbs you listed for the salve in the linament, too?
Fascinating post!

Anonymous said...

I would like to try this, but am confused by your recipe.

Do you mean that 3/4 of the herbal ingredients is comfrey and that the rest is mullien etc?

Anonymous said...

Same confusion here. Would you mind posting a clearer recipe? I, too, have begun a medicinal garden and hope to do what you have done... Mar

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

Becca, I made it for our own use, but have already given some samples to a few other people with aches. It works great for us. I have thought of producing medicianal herb products to sell, but I'm still experimenting on us and our friends!

Farmgirl, congrats on the comfrey. They say once it is established, you can't get rid of it, but it has so many uses, who would want to! Chickens and goats eat it, it makes a great compost and soil amendment, and it has many herbal properties. I'll give a more specific recipe in the original post!

EJ, okay okay, my recipe was pretty loose cause it was a made-up concotion of my own. But it works pretty darn well, so I will edit in a more specific recipe in the original post.

Mar, you got it, go back to the post and it will be there...

Chiot's Run said...

I will definitely be making some of this. Mr Chiots always starts having write problems when we get back into our busy season at work (lots of computer work). I think this might help. In the winter when my comfrey wasn't growing I bought some comfrey cream to use, and it worked well. I can't wait to make my own.

Thanks for the recipe.

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

Chiot's, you don't have to stick to my recipe... next time I make it I'm going to try more mint, and perhaps some stinging nettle to treat inflammation. You could make your own Arnica salve, I think Richters offers the dried herb. You could make an Arnica/Comfrey/Mullein salve. Or do a bit of reaserch on the net for herbs to treat wrist/joint/tendon injuries. I'm thinking of making a good bug bite salve for those pesky mosquitoes and blackflies, perhaps Comfrey, St John's Wort, Burdock and Plantain. The possibilites are endless!