A medicinal salve, which may be as simple as salt on a mosquito bite, is a soothing, healing balm for wounds, inflammations, muscular pain and sores. Used externally, salves treat a wide range of these types of ailments, including cuts, bruises, rheumatism, insect strings, burns, sports injuries and eczema. Salves made with medicinal plants are effective because of the plants active ingredients - usually their essential oils, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and hormone like and germicidal substances. The herbs, their extracted juices or herbal oil infusions are mixed with a fat or wax, which itself serves to seal in active components and remoisturize the skin. You can put nature to work for you and avoid chemical additives by making your own salves from natural sources at home.
This antispasmodic salve recipe, based on one by the medieval herbalist Hildegard von Bingen, is still considered effective for improving pancreas, stomach and gallbladder function. Finely chop green fir needles and fir bark and boil them in water to form a mash. Add a small amount of fresh butter; allow to cool. Press the mash carefully through a clean cloth. Rub the mash over the heart and upper abdominal area.
Salves are applied externally two to three times daily for rubs and dressings. Depending on a salve's ingredients, its medicinal properties might affect the skin, helping to heal surface wounds, sores and burns. Or, they may penetrate the skin and affect deeper tissue, relieving muscle or joint pain, reducing inflammation of sprains and strains or opening breathing passages.
All natural medicinal salves are composed of ingredients from botanical sources. These are primarily fat soluble substances, including essential oils and some vitamins. Salves can also contain minerals, such as zinc, for wound healing and silicon in the form of silicic acid, to help repair connective tissue.
Make medicinal sales yourself
You can make many medicinal salves yourself at home without a great deal or effort or expense. You will need a fat or wax, such as beeswax, as a carrier material and medicinal plants or their active ingredients to be dissolved in the fat. Ingredients are available at pharmacies and health food stores, and various recipes can be found in herb books. Certain recipes call for essential oils, many use infused oils, made by steeping herbs, either fresh or dried, in vegetable oils. Here are some ideas: Marigold salves help heal eczema and skin ulcerations and prevent scabs from forming on wounds. Plantain salves are good for scrapes and minor burns. Chamomile salves alleviate rashes, calf muscle cramps and rheumatic pain. Try adding the contents of a vitamin e capsule for a healing boost.
Extra tip : You can adjust the consistency of your salves by varying the amount of fat you use. For example, the greater the proportion of beeswax, the firmer your salve will be; the less beeswax you use, the softer the salve. Always use pure, unbleached golden- brown beeswax.
A proven remedy for rheumatic pain, poorly healing wounds, eczema, frostbite, burns, sunburn, joint pain and sprains
- 9 oz. lard
- 4-6 fresh comfrey roots
This salve has traditionally been used to treat rheumatic pain and shoulder tension. Thoroughly wash the comfrey roots. Pat them dry with paper towels and chop the roots finely. Heat the lard and stir in the pieces of root; allow the mixture to stand overnight. Reheat it the next day and press the mixture through a clean cloth. Apply the salve to the affected area. You can store the salve in sealed jars
- Enough fresh violets or heartsease to produce 4 tbsp. of juice
- 1 tbsp. cold pressed olive oil
- 1 ¾ oz. sheep's tallow or lard
Hildegard von Bingen recommended this salve for healing wounds, skin ulcerations and for preventing scars. It is also very effective in relieving sunburn pain. Crush the violets or the heartsease with a mortar and pestle. Press the oil out of the herbs through a small, cotton cloth. Stir the oil into the juice. Warm the sheep's tallow slightly. When it is softened, use a whisk to stir it by spoonfuls into the violet-oil mixture. Continue to whisk it until the mixture is blended.