Many years ago I had a son with chapped lips gone awry. No matter what he did or used, they continued to worsen. Needing to take the matter in hand, I went out to the back yard and picked a basketful of leaves. I then went into the house and concocted a salve that brought instant relief and healing. Let me share with you what I did.
Comfrey—Although not recommended for use on broken skin, you have to judge for yourself.* The allantoin in comfrey promotes the proliferation of skin cells, thus regenerating damaged tissue.
Plantain—This herb quickly stops bleeding and promotes healing. The flavonoid Apigenin found in plantain is anti-inflammatory.
Chickweed—Chickweed has anti-inflammatory properties as well. It is also known to help the body absorb whatever is applied topically, thus increasing the medicinal effects of the other herbs.
The Other Ingredients
- Olive Oil
- Vitamin E oil as preservative
Step by Step
Assemble your supplies:
- Stainless steel pot and spoon
- Cup with spout for pouring
- Piece of clean muslin
- Cheese grater (if you need to grate the wax)
- If necessary, rinse the leaves you have collected outside and dry thoroughly. If you are using dried herbs, that is unnecessary. Fresh leaves need to be macerated. Generally, I fill the pan about half with fresh herbs. When using dried, I will use a few tablespoons of each.
- Add enough olive oil to the pan to just cover the herbs. Heat on low until the fresh herbs are wilted or the dried herbs are crisp. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not rush it. If your oil smokes, you overheated it and must start over. Take every precaution as hot oil is extremely dangerous. Do not have children and pets underfoot.
- After the herbs are infused, strain them through a funnel lined with muslin. Once it has stopped dripping, squeeze it as tightly as possible to extract as much of the oil as possible. If you have access to a hydraulic press, you will be amazed how much more oil you can extract using it.
- Return the oil to the pot and add the grated wax. Warm on low to melt the wax. The more wax you add, the firmer the end product. Start with ¼ cup of wax to a cup of oil and go from there. If your salve is too firm, you can return it to the heat and add more oil to soften. If it is not firm enough, you can add more wax. You will get the hang of it with practice.
- Once the wax melts, remove from the heat and add the vitamin E as a preservative. Pour the liquid into your containers and allow to harden.
Other ingredients can be added to your salves. If I want anti-bacterial properties, I will add burdock root or honey. St. John’s wort relieves pain. Myrrh and black walnut hulls provide antifungal properties that would be nice for a diaper rash ointment. Lavender, chamomile, and calendula are other skin soothing herbs popular in salves.
Ever make your own salve? I’d love to hear your experiences.
*The use of comfrey is a controversial topic. Although widely used in the past, studies have found traces of alkaloids linked to liver disease in the plant. Herbalist now recommend it for topical use only, on unbroken skin.
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