Ease Aches with an Herbal Muscle Rub

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Heidi Cardenas is a freelance writer and gardener in Lake County, Illinois, with a background in human resources. She has written about gardening for various online venues and enjoys The Herb Companion’s valuable resources.

With a soothing herbal muscle rub– made with bay leaf, eucalyptus and ginger–you can ease aches and pains naturally. Bay leaf and eucalyptus have pain relieving and antiseptic properties, and ginger root has warming properties. Used together, they provide relief from muscle and tendon soreness, stiffness, bruising and joint pain. Enjoy natural, soothing relief with this special herbal recipe made in an easy afternoon session in the kitchen.

Sweet bay leaves have antiseptic and pain relieving properties. 
Photo by H. Zell/Courtesy
Wikimedia Commons

Herbal Muscle Rub

You may already have the tools needed to make a fresh herbal preparation:

• Mortar and pestle
• Large sauce pan
• Double boiler
• A piece of clean, dry cheesecloth
• Six 3-ounce sterilized cosmetic jars
• Six 3-ounce cosmetic bottles

Ingredients you’ll need include:

• 1 cup fresh bay leaves
• 1 cup fresh eucalyptus leaves
• 1 cup fresh grated ginger root
• 1 pint pure oil (either 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. Begin by mashing the herbs with the mortar and pestle until they are finely ground together. Then heat them in the 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 the pan from the heat and set aside. When slightly cooled but still warm, strain the oil and crushed herbs through clean cheesecloth, then discard the herbs. Divide the herbal oil in half and set one half aside.

2. Melt the beeswax in the double boiler, then 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.) and let cool slightly. Pour the beeswax mixture into the cosmetic jars, let cool for 30 minutes, then 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 then lid tightly. Label as “Fresh Herbal Muscle Rub” and store out of sunlight until use or give as gifts.  

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 and stiffness of elderly 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.  

Eucalyptus leaves have antiseptic and aromatic properties. 
Photo by Forest & Kim Starr/Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

You may want to test your green thumb by growing bay and eucalyptus to have your own fresh sources on hand, especially if you have a greenhouse or an herb garden.

Use stainless steel cookware and tools to avoid contaminating oil and rub with plastic or chemicals from non-stick surfaces. 

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