Saturday, May 22, 2010
In 1994, a friend and I took a series of classes on healing herbs and making remedies at home. Ever since then, I've made various versions of healing salves. A dear friend spent the day here yesterday, and being like-minded, we made a batch of salve.
Now, I have to tell you.... this stuff is amazing. It is not a panacea, but for certain skin problems it is amazingly effective.
1. My neighbor used it when she had "sun poisoning" and had the itchy rash caused by too much sun exposure. It cured it for her very quickly.
2. My daughter has used it for diaper rash that would not respond to any other treatment, and it cured it.
3. I use it often for skin irritations and it is soothing and healing.
4. I use it on my animals when they have skin problems. Depending on the problem, often, it helps.
It is made using Comfrey leaves and Plantain leaves. You can see a photo and article about the Comfrey HERE and about the Plantain HERE.
These are medicinal herbs. The salve has antibiotic and anti-fungal properties and helps promote cell growth and rapid healing.
Here is my recipe:
Tincture of Benzoin (opt.)
Go outside with a gathering basket and a small knife or pair of scissors. Gather a quantity of Plantain and Comfrey leaves, approximately the same amount of each.
Bring them into the kitchen and wash them in a sink full of cold water. Then, either pat them dry in towels or put them through a salad spinner.
Next, chop them up in your food processor, OR chop them very finely with a sharp knife.
Put all of the chopped leaves in a non-reactive (stainless or enameled) pot. Pour in enough olive oil to cover the leaves. Place the pot in your oven and set the timer for 4 hours and the temperature at 250 degrees F.
After the 4 hours, take it out of the oven. Let the brew cool for a little while, and then line a colander with a cotton cloth. Strain the brew through the cloth. Press out as much oil as you can.
Measure the resulting oil. This will determine how much Beeswax you will need to add. (More about that in a moment.)
Gather up some little jars. I often use baby food jars, when I can get them, but 1 cup canning jars are wonderful too. You need jars with lids and of course you can use any size you wish, but I recommend smallish jars as then most of the salve may be stored in the freezer until you need it.
Now comes the math. This year's batch made 5.3 cups of oil. I added 4.5 ounces of melted Beeswax. So, that divides out to using 0.89 ounces of Beeswax for each cup of oil. This is not an exact science. If you add more, your salve will be more firm. If you add less, it will be softer. I like this consistency. You will, of course, need to have a little digital scale. They are not too expensive, and if you are serious about making salve, it's a good investment and has many other uses also (soap making being one of them.)
Rig up a little double boiler for your Beeswax. I put mine in an empty food can and place it in a small pot with water in it. NEVER melt wax directly on the stove. If it gets too hot, it can explode and burn you.
When the wax is melted, stir it into the oil. If you would like a preservative, add 5 drops of Tincture of Benzoin for each cup of oil, but this is not necessary if you will be storing your salve in the refrigerator or freezer. I do add it to mine, as I share this salve with a number of other folks, and don't want it going rancid on their kitchen shelf.
Pour the mixture into the prepared jars, put on the lids and let it cool. That's it!
It sounds complicated all written out like this, but it's not. Just go out, get the plants, chop them up, cook them in oil, strain, melt the wax, stir that in and voila! Wonderful, versatile healing salve!
You can purchase beeswax from bee keeping supply companies online. Do shop around, as prices vary considerably.
I recently heard from a young friend of mine that she had cracked her tibia in a fall, and used my salve on the area and it helped it heal nicely. Another name for Comfrey is "Bone set." This