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Herbs in salves.


Here's a list of herbs I've made into oils and salves.

On the herblist in March 2002, updated just now:

I make oils into salves - just add beeswax. Oils as oils are too messy for me, and because it's difficult to just take a little you use more; salves give more bang for the herb.

Different ones:
St. John's wort (Hypericum spp.) - for swellings due to trauma. That includes some (but not all) joint troubles.
(Link: St. John's wort oil)

Barberry root (Berberis spp.) with burdock leaf (Arctium spp.). This is the old standby for skin troubles, touted in all the books for psoriasis. Actually, it helps only about half the people with psoriasis whom I've given it to; the other half do better on St. John's wort.

Calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis). The woundhealer. Another woundhealer would be plantain leaf (Plantago spp.), but that one's such a lot of work to pick that I usually go with Calendula. Except when I have a flock of students with too much energy, in which case I tell them to pick plantain leaf, lots, after which we make plantain oil and salve, and plantain syrup.
(Link: Calendula salve)

Rose petals or dried flowerbuds (I like Rosa damascena) or
Lavender flowers (Lavendula angustifolia). Both are soothing to the skin, but both are far more just luxury rather than actually useful. Add calendula for that extra zing. I usually double infuse dried rosebuds as a single infusion doesn't carry the scent. Lavender is strong enough for the usual single pass oil-making.
(Link: Rose salve)

Chickweed herb (fresh) (Stellaria media) or
Jewelweed greens (fresh) (Impatiens spp.), for itchy skin. Good for things like atopic dermatitis, even if that's just treating the symptom... people do want them, even though I always say to stop these things internally, ie. by helping the liver and changing the diet (ditch those dairy products ...). And jewelweed stinks to the high heavens while chickweed is unscented - I prefer chickweed.
Cucumber works as well.
(Link: Cucumber salve)

Horse chestnut leaf, green seed, or bark (Aesculus spp.). Excellent for hemorrhoids, varicose veins and couparosa skin. Add oak leaf (picked when still young and soft) to make a real killer salve for these. One lady went through four jars in a year, and her varicosities shrunk a lot.

Meadowsweet flowers or leaf (Filipendula ulmaria) or
Balsam of gilead leaf buds (Populus balsamifera), for pain. They're both nice for muscle and joint pains. Meadowsweet is really easy to pick, and the balm of gilead buds are horribly messy. Balm of gilead drives things deeper into the tissues, but you can get the same effect by using cayenne (or similar) with meadowsweet.
Queen of the prairie (Filipendula rubra) works as well as meadowsweet. Grow it, it's very pretty. Manchurian meadowsweet (Filipendula kamtschatica) has the same smell as the other two, and is therefore also usable, but boyo, it's enormous.

Thuja leaf (Thuja spp.) and
Cypress leaf (Cupressus spp.). They are pretty good for your normal run of the mill fungi, like the foot fungi you pick up at the swimming hall and such. Preventative, too - just use them on your feet before you go home.

Mullein flowers (Verbascum spp.) to ease inflammations. Add hot spices like cayenne (or balm of gilead buds) to drive the action deeper. The oil is also very good for ear aches.
(Links: Quick fix: earache and Mullein itches)

Hot Spices: Black pepper, cayenne, mustard and ginger, all as powders, make a very nice heating salve; excellent for cold feet. I tell gents that this is the luxury salve for them... just give it to your ladies and tell them to put it on their feet before they turn in. Because these are powders they take a very long time to drip through; because they're powders I also have them drip through large-sized coffee filters instead of the usual cheesecloth. So it's not a salve that can be made in front of a class in two hours or so. I forget how much of each, but it's about equal amounts of cayenne and ginger (lots), a dollop of mustard and as much black pepper as you care to wring out of that pepper mill. (I never seem to go much beyond 10 grams of pepper...). Cover with a good oil and let sit in the waterbath for 1.5 hours; stir every now and then.
(Link: Warming salve)

A good combination oil/salve is meadowsweet, St. John's wort, and calendula. I call it something like Oopsie-daisy: it's for active kids (who always have a bruise or a small wound from all the falling off bicycles and falling while running) and for sports people. Meadowsweet takes care of the pain, St. John's wort the swelling, and calendula is woundhealing.

And there's the Egyptian salve, an experiment in the exotic. Very nice, too.

Add scents if you like; I very very rarely add a drop of lavender, peppermint or rose EO to each 30 ml (1 oz) jar of salve.

My salve basket currently holds only 5 salves; I'm all out of a lot of them. Shrug: what exactly I have available depends on where I've been teaching and which salves I've been praising the most. Rose is really delightful.

All my salves are made by adding 1 part (100 g) beeswax to 8 parts (8 dl) infused herbal oil; melt, stir, pour into jars, let set, close lids, and add labels.

I'd be interested in what kind of salves/oils you guys make.

Related entry: PD: Herbal salves - Category: Salves