Monday, April 16, 2018

Herbal Aspirin Salve - Nature's Pain Reliever

Hello Everyone . . . although the calendar says mid-April, here in northern, coastal Maine, Mother Nature gave us sleet and a wee bit of snow today!  Not very spring-like!  And, let me tell you, with all this damp cold, the small amount of arthritis that I have in my fingers and toes is acting up and my phalanges (digits) are complaining.  What to do?  Well, today I'm going to give you a remedial herbal recipe that will ease arthritic flare-ups, as well as comfort gout, backache, and general muscular achiness anywhere in the body.  

I went through my blogging files, and apparently I posted this recipe back in 2013, but I think it bears repeating - along with educational herb photos for easy identification should you find them in the wild or on someone's herb farm.  It's easy to make and smells pleasingly  herbaceous and slightly sweet.  If you own a copy of my book, Hands-On Healing Remedies: 150 Recipes for Herbal Balms, Salves, Oils, Liniments & Other Topical Therapies (Storey Publishing, c2012), then you'll find the recipe on pages 180-181.  I hope you give it a try . . . it can deliver much relief from your physical aches and pains - anytime of year😉

HERBAL ASPIRIN SALVE - Nature's Pain Reliever

When you combine meadowsweet flowers, known as "herbal aspirin," with the flowers of arnica, the "aches and pains herb," - in olive oil - the result is a rather powerful infused oil that boasts astringent, antirheumatic, analgesic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic properties.  When massaged into a joint exhibiting gout or arthritis symptoms; general muscular aches and strains/backache; carpal tunnel; tendonitis; bursitis; new bruises; or muscular tension headache, Herbal Aspirin Salve - or as I like to call it "comfort in a jar" - will temporarily relieve the pain, inflammation, redness, and stiffness.  I find it to be pure "salve-ation" for my sore hands and wrists after a couple of hours spent hoeing weeds in the garden or working a full day with foot reflexology clients - it's a God-send!!

Contraindications:  Please do not apply to open wounds.  This formula contains a low percentage of salicylic acid - derived from the meadowsweet flowers - which acts as a natural analgesic.  DO NOT USE if you are allergic to aspirin.

Meadowsweet flowers (Filipendula ulmaria)

Arnica flowers (Arnica montana)

- 1 cup dried or 2 cups freshly wilted (for 48 hours) meadowsweet flowers
- 1 cup dried or 2 cups freshly wilted (for 48 hours) arnica flowers
- 3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 - 1,000 IU vitamin E oil capsules or 10, 200 IU capsules
- 3-4 tablespoons beeswax (use the greater amount for a firmer salve)

Equipment Needed:  2-quart saucepan or double boiler, stirring utensil, candy or yogurt thermometer, strainer, fine filter (muslin or paper coffee filter), funnel, glass or plastic storage container (for the infused oil), glass or plastic jars or tins (for the salve)

Prep Time:  4 hours to infuse the oil, plus 20 minutes to make the salve and 30 minutes for it to thicken

Yield:  Approximately 2 1/2 cups of infused oil and 1 1/4 cups of salve

Storage:  Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year

Application:  Up to 3 times per day - massage into affected areas

Preparing The Herbal Infused Oil:  If you're using freshly wilted meadowsweet or arnica flowers, strip the flowers from their stems along with any small bits of attached leaves prior to adding to the pan. It's okay to add 10% chopped leaves to the flowers, if you wish.  Discard the stems.  Combine the meadowsweet and arnica flowers with the olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan or double boiler, and stir thoroughly to blend.  The mixture should look like a thick floral soup.  Bring the mixture to just shy of a simmer, between 125 F and 135 F.  Do not let the oil actually simmer - it will degrade the quality of your infused oil.  Do not put the lid on the pot.

Allow the herbs to macerate or soak in the oil over the low heat for 4 hours.  Check the temperature every 30 minutes or so with a thermometer and adjust the heat accordingly.  If you're using a double boiler, add more water to the bottom pot as necessary, so it doesn't dry out.  Stir the infusing mixture at least every 30 minutes or so, as the herb bits tend to settle to the bottom.  ALWAYS use a kitchen timer - it will keep you from forgetting what you are doing and overheating your mixture!

After 4 hours, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  While the oil is still warm, carefully strain it through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a fine filter such as muslin cloth or, preferably, a paper coffee filter, then restrain again if necessary to remove all debris.  Squeeze the herbs to extract as much of the precious oil as possible.  Discard the marc (or spent herbs).

Add the vitamin E oil and stir to blend.  The resulting infused oil blend will be golden-green in color, or darker - if you used a super dark green olive oil.  Pour the finished oil into a storage container, then cap, label, and store in a dark cabinet.

Preparing The Salve:  Combine 1 cup of the infused oil with the beeswax in a small saucepan or double boiler, and warm over low heat until the beeswax is just melted.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes, stirring a few times to blend.  Pour into plastic or glass jars or tins, cap, label, and set aside for 30 minutes to thicken.

NOTE:  This recipe was written by Stephanie Tourles and excerpted and adapted from her book, Hands-On Healing Remedies, Storey Publishing, c2012.  The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.


  1. Thanks for sharing this post. Nectar Phyto

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Joseph Taxton. I agree, not every herbal remedy is safe and effective for every body/constitution. I was initially trained in the southeastern US Applachian folk remedy formulation - blends that had been traditionally used by "mountain folk" for hundreds of years . . . and I like to pass along this information. Many of my blends are now made with traditional knowledge combined with a modern, updated twist, if applicable. Blessings to you.

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