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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


i make several too:

for fungal stuff, i combine black walnut hulls and chaparral
for all purpose, comfrey leaf and root, calendula and st.john's wort
for bites, stings, bleeding, plantain rocks
and for poison ivy and eye styes, my seven salve: jewelweed, sage, lemon balm, yarrow, chamomile, burdock root and comfrey

something i plan on trying if i ever get it growing is arnica salve/oil. i love arnica for bruising/ouchies.

St. John's is what herb folks use, where homeopaths use arnica. No cautions like "not into open wounds", which you'll see with arnica (the herb).

I think I could rename my salve "Chickweed, plantain, and a bunch of other stuff that was growing nearby". I don't really have so much a recipe outside of that title. Kava Kava makes an incredible oil and I keep intending to make a salve from it, but haven't yet; then, I though I might just infuse it in coconut oil and not bother with the beeswax.

And, to the dismay of some, I couldn't praise highly enough the addition of Lanolin to help belnd the oil & wax better and make for a "creamier salve". I know lots say "some people will react to it", but nobody has, and I've talked to numerous other herbalists who have, as well, heard about this reaction but rarely (and in most cases never) seen it. I'd be as likely to take lanolin out of my salves on the basis of that concern as I would be to stop using chamomile in teas, since somebody could react to that, too...

I've ~never~ seen a salve without lanolin that's as nice as the one's I make with it. It helps the skin absorb the herbs better, as its so much closer to our own skin oils.

I student of mine has a friend whose used both deer and racoon tallow (rendered himself), which he says is really quite exceptional, with excellent absorption.

I'm one of those people who react to Lanolin, big huge crusty blisters. No skin pigment left when it heals. Sucks. Also allergic to chamomile and echinacia, also sucks.

I made a basic plantain salve last week for a friend who bleeds. Stuff works great.

Made a rose oil last month, cheated in the end and added a smidge of rose wax to boost the scent.

Made a jasmine wax salve for a guy last month - he's using it in dream therapy. Stuff was too strong for me, but he liked it.

And I make up homemade "tiger balm" as needed.

Jim: do you use fresh or dried kava, and tincture or root? There's that rancidity problem with rendered fats, too.
Daubermaus: jasmine wax, is that a concentrated essential oil?

Dried kava; made it once with fresh, but it really wasn't as good, and though it lasted for quite awhile, the last ounce or two ended up going rancid.

> jasmine wax, is that a concentrated essential oil?

Flower waxes are a waste product of essential oil manufacturing. They are incrediably aromatic, but not stabile - they lose the scent very quickly when heated. But since I will never be able to afford pure rose or jasmine oil, they make a nice compromise.

I sell (small) pinches of Jasmine wax for $5 each at Medieval Faires to people for their sachets and oil difuser necklaces.

This is the company I do business with, they are great.

Ooh. Finally a use for the dried kava that I've had for years!
Thanks, daubermaus; alas, I don't use scents in my salves and oils.

I don't use scents in any of my salves or creams because they give me worse migraines then I already have. I'm very interested in the Kava salve that you've been talking about. I, also, have a pound or so of Kava that's been sitting here for a few years. I used to cap it with Valerian, scullcap, passionflower and hops but there's so much left. Does anyone have a good way to make the kava powder infuse in oil so I can make the salve. I don't have anything equipment-wise beyond what you'd expect to find in the kitchen of a person who cooks and cans. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Kimber Lee

... read the blog post, then go clicky on the various "so-and-so oil" or "so-and-so salve" links, and read those posts, too. They include explicit instructions on how to make herbal oils and salves.

I would love to have a recipe and know more about Tiger Balm. Karen

Hi there, I'm new to your site, I like it very much so far.

I always make a Calendula/rose buds salve for cracked lips. I'm planning to try plantain/chickweed for itching this year.

Also I make extensive use of hemlock oil, which works like a charm for restless legs syndrome and all kinds of muscle pain and cramps. However, it does get into the system through the skin and is therefore dangerous, moreover I suspect it to lose its effects when used for several days in a row. Isn't there something less problematic to replace it with?

Sorry, I don't use salves for restless legs, I give the missing nutrients - mostly magnesium, but sometimes potassium or others.
For muscle pains most anything with salicylic acid is good. I like meadowsweet, but you probably have balsam poplar buds - "balm of gilead".

just wondering whats involved in a "waterbath". might be a stupid question, but im new to this herbal thing and havent heard that term before, but most of my knowledge comes from second hand, very old, books. so, you see the problem?

Here's one waterbath: Calendula salve
and here's another: Rose salve

thanx, thats helped alot!

Hello! I would like to be added to your mailin' list! And I would like samples on your salves. Looking forward to hearing from you! Send to; [deleted]

1) I don't have a mailing list, unless you count the herblist. Which you'll have to subscribe to all by your lonesome, just to prove that you can understand and follow simple instructions.

2) Why would I send samples of my salves to you? It's not as if I'm prepared to sell them to all and sundry. Unless they pay good money of course, which includes postage from over here, which makes them prohibitively expensive over there.

I would like to be added to your mailing list and plese let me know how we can avail of samples of your products.

You'll have to put yourself on the herblist all by your lonesome. And I don't hand out samples of anything at all.

I been making salve for sometime now and sell a formula I created with neem oil and various herbs for eczema. It has shown to be very effective. I was just experimenting today with jasmine wax as a substitute for beeswax to make more of an erotic balm. Any tips would be appreciated.