Herbs such as arnica montana, boswellia, curcumin and peppermint reduce the swelling and inflammation that accompany muscle aches and sprains. Making your own herbal liniments can reduce the cost of treating aches and sprains and allow you to choose the best herbal combination for your needs. Check with your health-care provider to ensure your muscle aches or sprains are minor.
Tinctures vs. Essential Oils
The base of your liniment can come from a tincture or an essential oil. Essential oils are more potent, so you can use less of them. Most essential oils need to be diluted if used on the skin. Tinctures require less plant material, and you can make them yourself with very little effort. Some tinctures are safe enough to use undiluted on intact skin. Making a liniment dilutes the oils or tinctures, leaving less chance of skin irritation. If the recipe calls for a tincture and you substitute an essential oil, only use one-third of the requested quantity.
Arnica and Peppermint
Arnica and peppermint soothe and reduce inflammation. Both plants adapt well to domestic cultivation. Arnica reduces the bruising and pain of sprains and muscle aches, while peppermint provides a cooling balm to the skin. To make a tincture of either plant, soak the clean flowers in a glass jar with enough vodka to cover the petals. Stir the petals and alcohol with a wooden spoon to bruise the flowers, and then place the capped jar in a window for 10 days. Strain the tincture into a clean glass jar.
Boswellia and Curcumin
Curcumin, known to chefs as tumeric, has potent anti-inflammatory abilities. Boswellia, known as frankincense, also reduces inflammation and eases pain. These two herbs combine best in their essential oil form, so you will need less for your recipe. You can dilute two drops of each essential oil with 15 drops of almond oil to create a soothing lotion.
Cooking the Liniment
Mix either 15 drops each of the arnica and peppermint tinctures or five drops each of boswellin and curcumin essential oils in a glass pot. Add 2 ounces of anhydrous lanolin to the pot and heat on low. Stir the mix until the lanolin melts and the liquids are fully absorbed. Pour the mixture into a glass jar and cool before using. Apply a thin layer to the sore muscle or sprain if the skin is intact. You can use the liniment twice daily.