Over the past couple of months, I have been making and selling salves for general wound care and for poison ivy at the farmers' market. Recently, I was asked if I could make a salve for arthritis and joint pain. I had read about making herbal infused oils with cayenne and ginger but hadn't actually tried it before. Both Cayenne and Ginger are wonderful anti-inflammatory herbs and help to increase circulation. They are both also rubefacient herbs, meaning that they will increase blood supply to the skin when applied topically, thus relieving congestion and inflammation. The capsaicin in cayenne and other hot peppers helps to alleviate pain when applied topically by depleting local supplies of a neurotransmitter called substance P, which transmits pain and itching signals from the nerves in the skin to the spine. Unlike other anesthetics, capsaicin doesn’t block other impulses to the nerve fibers, only those related to pain. Cayenne ointment is still quite popular in Chinese medicine for these uses. So last week, I got in my kitchen and started experimenting. The result was not only beautiful but effective. Below is my easy to make, herbal pain salve. I also sell this salve at Market Square Farmers' Market and in my online store for those of you who wish to just purchase it.
Pain Relief Salve
(makes about 10 oz)
1 cup organic olive oil
1 1/2 T organic powdered cayenne
1 T dried ginger root
1/4 c beeswax pellets or 2 oz of grated beeswax
1)In a small sauce pan, place your oil and spices. On a very low heat (1-2 setting), gently heat the oil and spices, stirring occasionally for 1 hr. Check the oil periodically to make sure it isn't getting to hot and cooking the spices.
2) Strain your oil into pyrex mixing cup or other pot. You should have a beautiful red oil. Once strained, pour the oil back into a clean pot and add beeswax. Gently heat on stovetop, stirring and allowing the beeswax to melt completely. To check your salve consistency, use a spoon to place a little of the liquid salve onto a plate. In a minute or so, you can check to see if this salve sample is the consistency you desire. If it is too soft, add a bit more beeswax to the pot and remelt. If too hard, add a bit more oil.
3) Once the beeswax has melted, pour salve into containers and allow to cool and harden before placing on lid. I use 2 oz salve containers but anything will do. Recycled baby food jars are great. Once the salve has hardened, it is ready to use. Store at room temperature or in fridge.
Dosage: Use this salve as needed. Make sure to wash hands after use to avoid getting cayenne in your eyes