Kloss’ Liniment

Cold SoreOne of my favorite medicinals to have on hand is Jethro Kloss’ Liniment. In his classic book Back to Eden, Kloss recommends this liniment for “all pains, painful swellings, bruises, boils, skin eruptions of any kind, pimples, etc.” He also claims that it is useful for headaches by applying to the temples, back of the neck, and the forehead and that it is “good for athletic foot trouble.”

It does, indeed, help with sore muscles and joints.

Kloss’ recipe for this amazing liniment is as follows:

Combine two ounces of powdered myrrh, one ounce of powdered goldenseal root, and one-half ounce of powdered cayenne pepper with a quart of 70% rubbing alcohol. Let stand for seven days, shaking well every day. After the week, strain through clean muslin and bottle.


I keep the herbs in the alcohol for two weeks or more as that is what is recommended for most alcohol-based herbal infusions. I have also used apple cider vinegar in place of the rubbing alcohol with some success. Master Herbalist Debra Nuzzi St. Claire uses 100-proof vodka. “Isopropyl is less expensive but highly poisonous if accidentally taken internally,” she says in her text Herbal Preparations and Natural Therapies. Using the vodka also makes the liniment safer to use in the mouth.

St. Claire recommends the liniment for “sprains, strains, bruises, and insect bites.” She calls it the “herbal sister to Betadine” and recommends using it for poison ivy.

A look at the ingredients:

Myrrh is known to have anti-fungal properties. This fact supports Kloss’ claim that the liniment helps athlete’s foot. In fact, it would be appropriate for any type of fungal outbreak on the body.

According to James A. Duke, Ph.D. in his book The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook, “Berberine and hydrastine give goldenseal its broad-spectrum antibiotic, antiseptic, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiviral, and all-around antimicrobial might.” Another weapon against fungal infections, goldenseal historically has been used to treat canker sores, cramps, dermatitis, eczema, gingivitis, herpes, oral inflammation, and sores of any kind.

Capsaicin, the main active ingredient in cayenne, blocks a chemical that transmits pain impulses. It is well known for its effectiveness on cramps, muscle aches and pains, joint pain and inflammation, nerve pain, and other strains or sprains. Clinical studies have shown its value at soothing arthritis pain and that of cluster headaches. It is the active ingredient in over-the-counter preparations like Zostrix and Capzasin.

Finally, what’s the first thing a nurse does before inserting a needle into your arm for an IV? Rub it with an alcohol pad. Everyone knows that rubbing alcohol is used as an antiseptic. Historically, it has been used alone as a massage liniment for sore muscles. Combining it with the herbs only enhances its effectiveness.

Additional Uses:

  • At the first tingling sensation, apply Kloss’ Liniment to the site of an oncoming cold sore with a cotton ball. Repeat the application several times a day. If it erupts, it will be much smaller than normal. I have used this treatment many times with great success; especially if you follow the application with a bit of comfrey ointment.
  • For inflammation of the gums, rinse the liniment in the mouth after brushing the teeth. Do not eat or drink after application. You may also brush it on the gums with your toothbrush.
  • Apply with a cotton swab to canker sores in the mouth as often as needed.


Any alcohol based preparations applied to broken skin will sting.

 Photo by Vanessa Roanhorse


Speak Your Mind