This months blog party is hosted by Sarah Head over at Tales of a Kitchen Herbwife on the topic of ‘Herbs for Aches and Pains.’
Most of us suffer from aches and pains from time to time and, whether it’s the odd twinge or continuous and debilitating muscle pains, herbs are here to help. Most aches and pains tend to fall into the category of either ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ conditions. A hot condition is likely to be inflamed, red, swollen and sore and could be due to rheumatic problems, strains, sprains or other injuries. Cold conditions might manifest as dull muscular aches that are better for warmth and pressure.
Here are a few of my favourite simple herbal tips for easing you through when these afflictions strike.
Baths- The first port of call for any cold, dull, achy, muscular pains is a good soak in a hot bath. Debs and Elizabeth have already mentioned how great Epsom Salts are for adding to the bath water in their posts and I agree whole heartedly! This is because Epsom salts are rich in magnesium, a vital mineral for aiding muscle relaxation and easing tension. Many of us are deficient in magnesium and stress depletes us further, so its important to make sure we are getting sufficient levels by consuming lots of leafy greens and enjoying nettle nourishing infusions regularly. Here is a great bath blend for driving out the ache;
3 cups epsom salts
1/2 cup mustard powder
3 drops black pepper essential oil
3 drops rosemary essential oil
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and add to a full hot bath. Stay soaking for at least half an hour to get maximum benefit.
If you feel achey at the onset of a cold or flu try sipping a nice cup of Linden blossom tea whilst you bathe.
Oils- A good rub down with a herbal infused oil will do wonders for relieving stiffness and soreness and many infused oils are beneficial for aches and pains. If you’re experiencing a cold, dull ache, then oils that are warming and stimulating to the circulation will help ease the pain and tension. My favourite is a combination of Rosemary and Ginger infused oils but Cayenne is also great as, like ginger, it is anti-inflammatory and pain relieving.
If you have joint pains then a simple salve made of comfrey infused oil may be beneficial.
If there is nerve pain St. John’s Wort is the oil of choice, which it is also well suited to back pain.
Lavender and Chamomile infused oils are soothing and pain relieving for tired and aching muscles.
Poultices and Compresses- If the pain is localised, for example in a knee or the lower back, then this is a good way of delivering the healing properties of the herbs directly to the area.
For a cold, tense ache, a fresh ginger poultice can help. Just grate a good inch or two (depending on the size of the area) of fresh ginger root onto a muslin cloth or stretch bandage. Cover well with a couple off layers of the fabric so that the ginger is not in direct contact with the skin. Apply to the area and keep in place with more bandages. Remove immediately if it starts to irritate.
Hot or inflamed joints can benefit from fresh comfrey poultices or a compress of chamomile tea. The difference between a poultice and a compress is that compresses uses a cloth soaked in liquid, usually herbal infusion or tincture in hot water, whilst a poultice uses fresh plant material, moistened, grated or blended with water and laid on the skin, either directly or covered by light cloths. Horsetail infusion also makes a great compress for sore joints and Maria Treben recommends making a Horsetail poultice by steaming the plant material before laying on the problem area.
Teas and Tinctures- A simple chamomile tea can ease tension and sooth mild pain. The tincture of Crampbark, Viburnum opulus is a great muscle relaxant as it works on the smooth muscle found in the intestines and uterus as well as the striated, or skeletal muscle. I love the marshmallowy feeling Crampbark gives me and it seems to help muscle tension and menstrual pains as soon as I swallow it. You can also mix a few drops of Crampbark with a little comfrey salve to have a wonderfully relaxing and soothing topical effect. Wood Betony, Stachys betonica, is also a lovely nervine and pain soother, usually used for headaches and problems associated with the head but useful for aches and pains in general too.
I hope these are ideas prove useful and everyone is enjoying this fine Spring weather 🙂