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Herbs for Health: Basic Healing Salve

By Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, DN-C, RH
August/September 2003
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In a healing salve, a combination of fats and oils is used as a base to carry the active herbs, allowing them to absorb through the skin, in addition to hardening agents for the desired consistency. Lard or other stiff animal fats were often used traditionally, but today are often replaced by food-type oils, such as almond, olive, lanolin, cocoa butter, wheat germ or vitamin E oils. Beeswax is often added as a thickener.

  • 2 tablespoons chopped, dried herb
  • 7 ounces desired fat or oil
  1. Prepare a tea of the desired herbs. Strain and reserve the liquid tea (water extract). Mix the desired fats and oils together. Stir the herbal water extract into the fat/oil base.
  2. Simmer the mixture, lightly steaming, until the water evaporates completely (bubbling stops). Do not overcook. The herb is now integrated into the base.
  3. Add thickeners such as beeswax, if necessary. Gently melt into the base. Pour into a container and allow to cool. If a preservative is needed for a perishable base, such as lard, add 1 teaspoon of tincture of benzoin per quart of salve. Store and use for up to 6 months.


Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa is an adjunct faculty member in the botanical medicine department of Bastyr University. He is currently writing a book about Ayurvedic herbs.

Click here for the original article, Herbs for Health: Homemade Salves.








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