Saturday, May 22, 2010

Healing salve

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:

Healing Salve
Comfrey leaves
Plantain Leaves
Olive oil
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


  1. That stuff is awesome! I've used it for diaper rash and lots of things. I wonder if I could go plantain and comfrey here?

  2. I would try growing it in containers that you keep in the shade. I could send you "starts" if you like.

  3. Wonder if it would help my yeast rash. When it gets warm outside and I start sweating from maybe working in the garden, the yeasties break out under my breasts and it burns like the dickens. I have always used athletes foot spray and it clears it up. Would love to try something healthier! Never have heard of plantain leaves before and not sure if comfrey is even available here in West Michigan.

  4. It would definitely be worth a try, Farmgirl Cyn. I am pretty sure that comfrey would grow there. Have you looked online for the plants? I got my start from a local friend. I'd be willing to send you a little piece to plant if you could pay for the shipping. The best way would probably be the small flat rate priority box, which I think costs $4.95 to send. Look up at the top right of my blog for an email address where to contact me. Plantain should be all over the place.

  5. You are so cute, mention it in your will cause its lasts a long time. I giggled at that one.
    I may have to try this after I grow the plants.

  6. This looks awesome. I'm thinking maybe this could help K with her eczema itch.

    Thanks for the sweet words of encouragement on my blog.

  7. Could you use coconut oil instead of beeswax? I make a lotion or salve with coconut oil, olive oil, tea tree oil, oil of oregano, lemon oil, bergamot oil, and sweet orange oil. I use this for areas that might get the yeast rash. It is wonderful anywhere though. I would like to try this with the comfrey and plantain leaves also, but have never used the beeswax before.

    His love never fails. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.

  8. The beeswax is to make it set up. Without that it would just be oil. But you could use coconut oil instead of olive oil and then just keep it in a cool place, or the fridge and it would be stiff. Yes, coconut oil is very good for your skin. I use it for deodorant and for facial moisturizer. My daughter uses it on her face and her acne went away after a week or two.

  9. Hello! :) We make our own cold process soap, so we already have the bees wax. We have the plantain out in the yard, but did not see the comfrey. So, we have everything we need except the comfrey. I'm hoping that when it comes time for comfrey to flower we will find that we can find some. Seems it will be easier to find if it is flowering. I googled several photos and have not seen that in our yard.

    Thank you for this recipe! I want to make it. One of my two sweet Girlies and I has eczema and I would feel better about using this.

    Have a great afternoon, Robin :)

    1. Comfrey would probably not be just growing "wild." You will have to ask for a start from someone or else buy a plant.


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