This Valentine’s Day, I’m determined to make—not buy—something for my sweetie. (I’d better get a move on.) I like this soothing herbal muscle rub that I found on the Herb Companion site because it looks fun and easy to make and will smell amazing when I use it on the best part of Pieter’s gift—a massage. “Bay leaf and eucalyptus have pain-relieving and antiseptic properties, and ginger root has warming properties,” writes Heidi Cardenas, who conconcted this recipe. “Used together, they provide relief from muscle and tendon soreness, stiffness, bruising and joint pain.” This will be a gift that keeps on giving.
Herbal Muscle Rub
Mortar and pestle
Large sauce pan
Clean, dry cheesecloth
Six 3-ounce sterilized cosmetic jars
Six 3-ounce cosmetic bottles
1 cup fresh bay leaves
1 cup fresh eucalyptus leaves
1 cup fresh grated ginger root
1 pint pure oil (extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, almond oil or sunflower seed oil)
1 pound pure beeswax
1 ounce liquid citric acid or 100 proof vodka.
1. Mash herbs with mortar and pestle until finely ground. Heat them in oil in the saucepan, stirring over low heat for about an hour. Be careful not to boil or burn the mixture or leave it unattended. After an hour, remove pan from heat and set aside. When slightly cooled but still warm, strain oil and crushed herbs through clean cheesecloth, then discard herbs. Divide herbal oil in half and set one half aside.
2. Melt beeswax in double boiler. Mix half of the herbal oil into the melted beeswax along with half the citric acid. Stir the mixture well. (Whipping the warm ingredients in a food processor or with a hand-held frother instead of stirring produces a light, creamy preparation.) Let cool slightly. Pour beeswax mixture into cosmetic jars and let cool for 30 minutes. Tightly lid all the jars.
3. Mix the other half of the citric acid into the other half of the herbal oil. Pour it into the cosmetic bottles, let cool and lid tightly. Store out of sunlight.
To use: Use the creamy rub on sore muscles and aching joints; use the oil during gentle massage. They both work well to ease hip and leg joint pain, in both people and pets. I suggest adding a few drops of the oil to hot bath water for a soothing steam bath, which also helps sinuses and congestion. You can also make wraps. Soak large gauze strips in hot water, remove them from the water, wring out excess, add some oil and wrap aching ankles or wrists or lay on sore muscles.
FYI: Ginger root is available at most grocers, and fresh bay and eucalyptus leaves will be easier to find locally on the west coast and in the south than in northern areas. For those in the midwest and north, finding fresh bay leaves and eucalyptus leaves may be more challenging. Try health food markets with fresh produce, local florists or online sources.
Sweet bay leaves have antiseptic and pain relieving properties. Photo by H. Zell/Courtesy Wikimedia Commons