Herbal ointments are simple to make. Doing it yourself gives you the ability to make large batches, making the cost per jar much less than if you were to buy it from a specialty store. It also allows you to get creative and make your own salves with the exact properties you need.
Not only are herbal ointments good to have on hand in your medicine cabinet, but they make great gifts as well. Give one or an assortment of your healing ointments to family and friends. There are several great herbs out there whose healing properties can be concentrated in a salve.
The must have herbs
These herbs are great to have on hand at all times:
Calendula is well-known for having many healing properties. Also know as the pot marigold, you can easily grow this yourself. Inflammation is usually the primary target of calendula because of its soothing abilities. It also works well for rashes and eczema, speeding their healing time.
Finally, calendula is also known to speed the healing of wounds and prevent infection. World War I doctor, Petrie Hoyle, used calendula exclusively for treating the wounded brought into his hospital. That’s a myriad of talents for one little flower.
*Use the petals of this plant to make your herbal salve. Find dried calendula flower petals here.
Comfrey is regarded as “one of nature’s greatest medicinal herbs.” And I cannot agree more. This herb is renowned for its healing properties. I add it to every ointment I make because it shortens the time it takes for wounds to heal. The same is also true of broken bones.
Comfrey can be used alone for a healing ointment, but if you have calendula on hand, try combining the two herbs to make a wonderful ointment for irritated skin. The combination works wonders on diaper rash.
*Either the root or the leaf can be used, though the root will be even more potent. Do not use comfrey on broken skin. Find comfrey root or leaf here.
Arnica is best known for its ability to soothe sprains and sore muscles. Rub arnica salve onto sore feet for relief at the end of the day. Or better yet, get someone else to do it for you. Arnica is also used to speed the healing of bruises. This herb works well in either a ointment or infused oil. The instructions below will give you the option of making an arnica-infused rubbing oil.
*Use the arnica flowers to prepare your salve. Do not use arnica on broken skin. Find arnica dried arnica flowers here.
How to make the healing salve:
Ingredients and Supplies
- A double boiler
- Oven-proof dish if your double boiler insert can’t go in the oven
- Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- 1 cup olive oil, or your favorite carrier oil (find quality carrier oils here)
- 1 cup herb of choice (if using more than one, use a total of 1 cup)
- ¼ cup beeswax (find beeswax here)
- Clean, dry jar(s) with lid to store your ointment in.
Heat your oven to 200º and then turn it off. Put the oil and herbs into the double boiler on medium heat. You want to heat the oil so that the herbs begin to steep, but not bring it to a boil. (You do not want the herbs to get much darker than they started). After the oil has had a chance to heat through for a few minutes, stick the top part of the double boiler into the oven for a few hours.
Strain the oil into a bowl using cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer. Stop here if you just want an herb-infused oil. To continue making the salve, put the oil back into the double burner on the stove on medium heat. Add the wax and stir until melted. Pour the oil into your container and let it cool. If you are using a plastic container, let the oil cool for a while before pouring it in.
Now you just need to add a label and put it in your medicine cabinet. Or you can track someone down for that foot rub…
Nina Nelson is a student midwife, mama to four and wife to one. She writes regularly at Shalom Mama, providing health and herbal resources and inspiring others to live intentionally. She loves reading, snuggling and giggling at miniature horses.