Lady's mantle of humble beauty and healing wounds - Home Medicine Cycle 36

Lady's mantle is one of those good, simple herbs that is easy to spot and recognize. It also has very specific medicinal uses. All in all, it is one of my favorite herbs--dependable and helpful.

Lady's mantle leaves with their distinctive shape - Creative commons image by Chris Cardew

Lady's mantle leaves with their distinctive shape - Creative commons image by Chris Cardew

The most interesting thing about lady's mantle is the shape of its leaves. They look a bit like a fan but the easiest way to describe their shape is that they look exactly like what the name says they are. They look like a medieval lady's cloak--if you turn them upside down. Once you've handled a lady's mantle leaf and thought about how it looks like a cloak, it is very unlikely you'll ever have trouble identifying it again.

Naturally, medieval Christian herbalists with their propensity to ascribe meaning to the shapes of herbs--if nothing else as an aid to memorization--decided that lady's mantle was the herb of St. Mary, the holy virgin, because it looked so much like a traveling cloak. it also has a reputation for saving people from terrible wound infections and it's even useful in women's health. Whether or not you believe the shape of a plant has anything to do with anything, remembering this anecdote can remind you of the plant's properties.

Lady's mantle flowers - Creative Commons image by Victor To

Lady's mantle flowers - Creative Commons image by Victor To

The most important medicinal quality of lady's mantle is the healing of wounds. Partly the healing comes from properties of the herb that dry the wound out and thus prevent infection. Other chemical compounds in the leaves help to slow bleeding. A strong tea (decoction) of fresh or dried leaves makes a good wash for scrapes and cuts. I have not encountered it used in a salve and it's possible that the compounds of this herb don't keep well. It is taken internally as a tea or tincture at times to slow bleeding and to moderate excessive menstrual flow. In Sweden the tincture is used for diseases that cause convulsions or muscle spasms. 

This is a gentle plant that usually grows wild in the corners of my garden. I don't have to cultivate it and I just pick it while I weed. Lady's mantle grows best in cool moist climates such as central and northern Europe. 

Fresh Aloe Vera for skin and mouth healing: Home Medicine Cycle 34

Aloe vera was my first medicinal herb. When I was a child, my mother always kept an aloe vera plant on the window sill and I can't remember a time when I didn't know how to use it. Whenever I had a small scrape or burn I would go to the plant and cut off a small length of a squishy, thick leaf. I slit the leaf to expose the wet gel within and smeared it on the burn or injury. The relief from pain was usually instantaneous, especially with sunburns. 

Now I've had many years of experience with aloe vera and seen the mixed evidence from clinical trials. It's clear that aloe vera has some powerful medicinal properties, especially for skin issues and mouth diseases. However, the mixed results point to one important difference when compared to other herbs. Aloe vera loses nearly all of its potency when it is processed and/or stored for more than a day or two. The vast majority of supplements and cosmetics that claim to contain aloe vera are medicinally ineffective and have little impact other than that of their carrier agents. 

Aloe vera is the quintessential homecrafter's herb. It works very well fresh from the plant and not at all once processed or stored. Pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies have tried for decades to bottle, can and market the soothing, healing and anti-aging powers of aloe vera. They put it in toothpaste, skin cream, makeup, shampoo and even food and pills because the name alone evokes a sense of healing. But you only need one product to use the power of aloe vera and it will never make anyone rich. You need an aloe vera plant on your window sill. Period.

Creative Commons image by ER and Jenny of

Creative Commons image by ER and Jenny of

Fresh aloe vera gel is one of the best treatments for sunburns and it has been shown in controlled studies to improve wrinkles and even reverse the effects of aging skin. But it isn't just a gentle and healthy balm for skin. It can also be effective at healing some of the most difficult-to-treat skin ailments.

One study found that it is effective in the treatment of skin cancerA 1996 study showed that even a weakened, processed aloe vera extract in a cream was better than a placebo in treating psoriasis. The study also documented the safety of its use. The fresh gel directly fro the plant has many times the healing power of such a cream.

In addition, multiple studies have shown aloe vera to be effective in treating mouth diseases such as oral lichen planus and periodontal disease. Aloe vera is even proving to be useful in dressing wounds, as well as combating some bacterial infections

I look forward to your comments, stories and ideas about herbs and homecrafting. Drop a line below and join the discussion.

Sunbursts of healing Calendula: Home Medicine Cycle 20

In the Czech language the name for Calenula flowers means "little moon," yet these brilliant yellow-orange blooms most resemble the sun. When I first came to Bohemia I had never heard of Calendula and yet I quickly ran into references to it among mainstream doctors and conventional pharmacists. In Europe this is one herb that has been solidly accepted by establishment medicine, particularly for use in burn ointments, and it's as well-known among lay people as mint. 

An opening calendula blossom - Creative Commons image by Arie Farnam

An opening calendula blossom - Creative Commons image by Arie Farnam

Calendula is an excellent addition to a home herb garden. It is bright and beautiful and it has powerful healing properties. Calendula flowers combat bacteria and fungal infections, help to heal burns or otherwise injured skin, and have some anti-cancer action. 

Infused calendula oil isn't difficult to make at home and you can keep it in the refrigerator and use it for numerous remedies, including:

Calendula plant - Creative Commons image by KENPEI of Wikipedia

Calendula plant - Creative Commons image by KENPEI of Wikipedia

While I have read that it is best to use just the petals of Calendula flowers for maximum potency, it can be very difficult to keep the tiny petals submerged when making infused oil. If they float to the top, they will tend to mold. As a result, I now prefer to make Calendula oil with whole flowers. The stay down better. Use the infused oil recipe in the first part of my salve making recipe

An infusion of dried Calendula flowers in hot water (basically a strong tea) can be used as:

May you have good fortune and cool breezes in your summer herb gathering! Do you have home medicines and remedies that you can share with others? I love your comments on these posts. Drop a line below and keep in touch!

Magical healing with comfrey: Home medicine cycle 19

The heroine lies wounded by a sword strike, while her friend the ranger frantically searches for the herb that will save her life. He finds the precious leaves and rushes to her side, pressing the magical green stuff into the wound. The bleeding stops and the wound closes before his eyes. She blinks her eyes and sits up. 

This is what I grew up on. Fantasy books... often with an herbalist in them. In those stories, skin knits itself back together in moments with the touch of a miraculous plant. Or a dab of a potion on the tongue can bring characters back from the brink of death.

I knew this wasn't real. It was just fantasy. In real life, herbs are mild--a less-effective but natural alternative to pharmaceutical drugs for times when your medical problem is minor and you have plenty of time to wait for their slow action to kick in. Right?

Not exactly.

That is what I believed about herbs when I reached adulthood and what most people still  believe today. But I've seen a few things that are very hard to explain on the theory that herbs are less-effective and slow-acting. 

Comfrey - Creative Commons image by Finchj of Wikipedia

Comfrey - Creative Commons image by Finchj of Wikipedia

One incident stands out sharply in my mind. My husband had tried everything that modern medicine had to offer to deal with his painful and exhausting chronic cough. Finally, we found an herbal mix that helped, after years of trying antibiotics and various drugs. He was slowly coming around to believe that my interest in herbs was a bit more than a foolish hobby.

So, one evening when we were visiting his parent's farm he went out with me to gather herbs. He brought along a pair of sharp branch clippers and he was using them to cut yarrow stalks, when he somehow managed to clip his finger. It was a significant enough cut that many people would have gone to the emergency room to get stitches. It bled profusely and when he flexed his fingers it looked like a gaping mouth of muscle. 

But my husband strongly dislikes trips to the emergency room and he would have had to drive himself there, given that I can't drive. His fingers still moved fine if painfully, so I was reasonably sure the clippers had not cut anything crucial. I told him to press one of the yarrow blooms against the wound to help stop the bleeding. Then I went for some strongly alcoholic tincture to disinfect the wound. Once the bleeding had slowed and the cut was very clean, I took comfrey leaves, softened them a bit with a mallet and wrapped them around the wounded finger. Then I bandaged the leaves in place.

We had small children and two elderly people to take care of and the rest of the evening was moderate chaos. It wasn't until the next morning that I managed to persuade my husband to let me look at his hand again. When we unwrapped the bandage and makeshift comfrey poultice we both stared in confusion. There was no cut. 

Had I been alone I would have doubted my own memory of how deep the cut was. But my husband was equally astonished. All that was left on his finger was a fine pink line, like that of a cut that healed well several days or a week previously. I probed at the scar and it was only the tiniest bit painful. There was no redness around it and my husband could move his hand freely without the bandage. 

Growing up on a homestead in the mountains and having a father and a brother who build houses and work with wood for a living, I have seen my share of cuts and lacerations. I have cut my own hands in the kitchen and dealt with the resulting sliver of pain for a week or two afterwards. I know how fast cuts usually heal, even with the help of antibiotic ointments from a pharmacy. And this was ridiculously fast--on the level of those fantasy epics I used to read. How can a deep cut heal in twelve hours?

A coloured etching by M. Bouchard, 1774 - Comfrey has been used by herbalists for centuries

A coloured etching by M. Bouchard, 1774 - Comfrey has been used by herbalists for centuries

I started researching comfrey in greater detail and what I found is truly amazing. Comfrey has been called knitbone historically, because it was used to treat sprains and broken bones. (It's also called boneset but that's misleading because there is another herb called boneset which is different.) 

Comfrey has an amazing capacity to soak through skin and muscle and affect bones, if applied with a generous fresh poultice. In addition, a recent clinical trial has shown comfrey root ointment to be more effective than some pharmaceutical ointments in healing sprains. Another double-blind study has found comfrey to be effective in treating osteoarthritis of the knee

It's ability to heal cuts is nothing short of stunning. And in fact sometimes comfrey heals cuts too fast. The first warning herbalists usually give about comfrey is that it can heal the skin over cuts and wounds so quickly that the body's natural function of expelling small bits of foreign matter (dirt, sand, bits of plants or cloth and so forth) from an open wound doesn't have time to work well. Some people have developed blood poisoning because comfrey's rapid-action healing sealed debris inside of a cut.

So, my story about speed healing my husband's finger comes with a caveat. Had i not flushed the wound out well enough or had it not bled so profusely, I could have made the situation worse by applying comfrey immediately. Generally, I now apply comfrey only after a cut is a few days old, just to be on the safe side. But that doesn't apply to sprains, arthritis, bruises and other injuries where the skin isn't broken. 

The primary reason for comfrey's healing power is a delicate combination of chemical compounds in the plant that promote rapid cell growth. 

Herbalists have experimented with using comfrey to treat certain types of cancer and there are several cases in which a patient with terminal cancer consumed large amounts of comfrey root powder and later miraculously recovered from the cancer. This briefly led to enthusiasm among herbalists for comfrey as a miracle herb. But then a study in Japan found that consumption of a large percentage of comfrey in the diets of rats was linked to liver cancer. And so the enthusiasm of herbalists has turned to caution and comfrey is usually not recommended for internal consumption. 

My mother had a comfrey plant by her garden water faucet when I was a child and I ate quite a few of its leaves. They were juicy and mild. The plant isn't poisonous in the conventional sense. However, there is a chemical found in most parts of the comfrey plant (less in young leaves) that is linked to liver damage if consumed in large doses. You would most likely have to eat a huge amount of comfrey for it to be a problem, but it's good to remember that  there is a warning against it.

Here is my homegrown and wildcrafting approach to comfrey:

  • I haven't used the root because the leaves provide a ready source when the plant is local and you can control the amount of processing, although I think the use of comfrey root in commercial ointments may be a good choice for those who can't grow it. (Some people find that the bristles on comfrey leaves irritate sensitive skin. If you want to use fresh comfrey leaves instead of ointment, you can wrap a poultice in a light cloth.)
  • Whenever possible I use a poultice of fresh comfrey leaves on sprains, strained muscles, bruises and the like. (Just take fresh leaves and mash them up with a bit of water. You can apply them directly to the skin or wrap them in cheese cloth. You can lightly heat the poultice to sooth muscles and bruises.)
  • I use softened comfrey leaves to bandage cuts after they have been well cleaned and had a day or two to heal with disinfectant salves.
  • I dry some comfrey leaves for making rehydrated poultices in the winter and for making comfrey infusions to soak sprains in the winter.
  • I make comfrey infused oil to make salve (with this recipe) for older cuts and scrapes that are healing slowly.

Use the comment icon below to leave a message and share some of your stories of herbalist adventures, questions or experiences. I love your comments on these posts. Please remember that this doesn't constitute medical advice for a specific person with a specific medical condition. 

How to make an effective healing salve: Home Medicine Cycle 9

Readers of my Home Medicine Cycle are usually looking for simple, practical ways to use medicinal herbs at home. I go to the doctor as do most of you, I expect. There are a great many good things about modern medicine. 

And yet there are a few things that fresh, home-grown medicinal herbs still do better than the pharmacy.

Skin care is one of them.

From supposedly incurable eczema to allergic reactions and small infected cracks that even antibiotics won't heal, I've seen a lot of skin problems that pharmaceutical ointments were not been able to handle. And more often than not, I've seen medicinal herbs from my humble garden clear them up in less than a week.

I say my garden is humble because it is. I don't grow herbs to sell them and I don't sell my remedies. In fact, I have a hunch that purchased herbs will never be as effective as home-grown and home-brewed remedies unless they are from a tiny cottage industry, because any time you put herbs into a big processing system they end up freeze-dried, preserved and over-processed, which appears to significantly cut their medicinal potency. Maybe there's a way to make effective commercial herbal remedies, but I haven't seen it yet. 

I'm a mother doing this for my family and for the odd friend who drops in. I have two beds of herbs and I gather a few others in nearby empty lots. What I do isn't industrial herbalism and anyone with a garden or even a few window pots can do a lot of what I do. That's the whole point of this Home Medicine Cycle. It's about practical herb lore, herbal remedies that just plain work and things you can do to take back your own health. 

So lets get down to business. The herb harvesting season is finally well underway. I'll be posting here more often over the summer and I'll often focus on one herb at a time and its uses and specific recipes. But this time I want to give you a core herbalist skill - the simple method of salve making. 

I first learned this from Jennifer Moore, an herbalist in La Grande, Oregon, and later read about similar techniques in The Herbal Home Remedy Book, which is a simple, practical guide that's easy for non-experts to follow. I've been making herbal salves for a dozen years now and this method simply works. I've perfected a few of the steps based on experience in my own kitchen. I hope that you can try this out and gain a tool for treating common skin problems, bruises, burns and skinned knees. 

Salve making has several steps. There are three basic stages--collecting herbs, making infused oil and cooking the salve.  The first stage takes however long it takes, but often no more than a few minutes if you have started growing your own herbs. The second stage takes from two to three weeks of mostly passive waiting. The final stage will generally take a couple of hours of kitchen time. I'll list the equipment you'll need for each stage in a box.

Collecting herbs

Step 1:  Choosing herbs and essential oils 

There are a great many herbs you can use to make herbal salves. I will go into depth on some of these in other posts and link from here whenever possible. You can even use only purchased essential oils diluted in a carrier oil and leave out the whole section on infused oils, but I recommend using infused oil together with essential oils, because they each provide different types of medicinal benefits and essential oils alone don't appear to provide the same kind of relief of symptoms.

The second stage of this guide will show you how to make an infused oil that is a key ingredient in medicinal salve. Here's a short list you can use to determine which herb or herbs might be most useful for your specific needs.

Herbs for infused oil:

Mint - image by Gogo of Wikipedia

Mint - image by Gogo of Wikipedia

  • Plantain leaves: For an excellent, speedy healing salve and to add to other salves
  • Mint leaves: For an amazingly effective eczema salve
  • Nettle leaves: For anti-allergenic salve (you’ll need gloves to pick and process them but just do the same as you would with other herbs and the result will reduce itching, rather than causing it)
  • The petals of calendula blossoms: For anti-fungal salve and burn remedy to use both to prevent athlete’s foot at the swimming pool and to treat mild sunburns
  • Yarrow blossoms: For a healing and mildly disinfectant salve that slows bleeding
  • Thyme blossoms and leaves: For healing and disinfectant salve to use on scrapes and small cuts
  • Lavender blossoms: For a good smelling salve that helps disinfect and dry out oily adolescent skin
  • Lemon balm leaves: For lip gloss that wards off cold sores with specific anti-viral action
  • Comfrey leaves:  For bruises, sprains and poorly healing (but thoroughly clean) wounds
  • Arnica leaves and flowers: For bruises
  • St. John's Wart flowering tops: For disinfectant salve for cuts and for burns (but keep in mind that the salve will increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun, the opposite of sun screen.)

It's also helpful to add some essential oil to your salve. While you won't need this for a couple of weeks, I'm mentioning these here because you may have to order the right essential oils through the mail and now is probably the time to do that, so that you will have them when the time comes. Choose an essential oil or two depending on your specific needs.

Essential oils for use in salve:

  • Mint essential oil is good to combine with mint infused oil for an excellent eczema salve. Mint essential oil is quite cooling and will help with any itchy condition, so it is good to add it to nettle, calendula and plantain salves that will often be used for itchy things.
  • Pine, sage or thyme essential oils help fight germs, so use them in salves that will be used on scrapes and cuts
  • Lavender essential oil smells wonderful and is mildly disinfectant. Good for anti-pimple face salve.
  • Tea tree essential oil is strongly anti-fungal but it doesn’t smell very good for general use. Use it for anti-fungal salves, such as for athlete’s foot.

Step 2: Collecting herbs

When you go out to collect herbs, make sure that the area hasn't been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. Many of these chemicals are highly toxic and those used on lawns and hedges are often not approved for food or medicinal crops, so they are likely to be even worse than those you find on non-organic produce. It is usually inadvisable to collect herbs in maintained parks or other places with mowed lawns, unless the owner has told you they don't spray (and given you permission to gather). 

In stage one you'll need:

  • scissors and/or clippers
  • a basket or paper bag
  • possibly some diluted geranium essential oil to ward off the ticks (see my post on this) 

The herbs I have listed are among the safest herbs for use in salves. Still, it’s best to choose herbs that you already know and can find locally when you’re first starting out. Check your identification of plants and be aware that while it’s rare, some people do have allergic reactions even to mild plants. 

Most salves use above-ground parts of plants, either leaves or flowers. It is rarely necessary to dig up or pull up the plants and this should be avoided. Use scissors or clippers to cut stems and flowers, whenever possible. This will avoid bruising the plants, which is better for your collected herbs and better for the plants that will grow medicine for you again in a few weeks.

Gather enough of the herb so that you can fill a small canning jar with pieces of it. For a family, one quart jar of infused oil per herb is usually plenty for the year. I sometimes make two jars for my most useful salves because I have a lot of friends who come around asking for them. You can store your herbs in the refrigerator for up to two days before going on to the next stage or you can dry them and use dried herbs for the next step, but I recommend using them fresh whenever possible.

Cutting herbs.jpg

Making infused oil

Step 3: Separating and cutting herbs

Separate small flowers such as yarrow and lavender and small leaves such as thyme from the stems by gripping the stem firmly in one hand and the flower or leaves more loosely in the other and pull the stems to strip off leaves and flowers. Cut large leaves or blossoms into half-inch pieces.

Step 4: Putting the herbs into infusing jars

In stage two you will need: 

  • a knife
  • a cutting board
  • clean glass jars with lids
  • olive, almond or another oil
  • a butter knife or chopstick
  • a spoon
  • sticky labels or paper and clear tape
  • a waterproof, permanent marker
  • a sunny window sill or an undisturbed spot outdoors

Try to use jars that are just large enough to contain your herbs. Your oil will be preserved better if the jar is pretty much full of herbs.

Sterilize your jars either by pouring boiling water over them or by running them through the dishwasher.

Gently pack your chopped herbs into clear glass canning jars. They will stay down correctly in the next step if you have packed them in a bit rather than letting them be fluffy and loose. Your salve will also be more potent.

Step 5: Pouring oil into the jars

Choose a base oil for your salve. I use olive oil because it is cheaper than most and good for dry skin. You can also use almond oil or even lard. It may depend on if you have any sensitivities to certain oils and what is available.

Pour your base oil into the jars until the oil completely covers the herbs. Use a butter knife or a chopstick to stab down into the jar and release air bubbles. This will require you to pour in more oil. Keep topping it off until the air bubbles are all gone and the oil stops trickling down inside the jar. Make sure all the bits of herb are under the oil. It’s important to keep them covered or they can grow mold. Use the back of a spoon to gently press stray leaves and petals down under the surface.

Step 6: Labeling your jars

Write the name of the herb and the date on each jar. Do not skip this step. You really will not remember and the herbs will not look the same once the oil is brewed.

Step 7: Brewing your infused oil

Gently close the lids to your jars. Don’t screw them down tight.

Then set your jars someplace where they will get direct sunlight for at least a few hours of the day. The rays of the sun will both act to preserve the oil and release the medicinal compounds of the herbs into the oil.

Check your oil once a day for the first few days. Stick your butter knife or chopstick down to the bottom of the jar again to release any extra bubbles and top off the oil again. Make sure all the leaves and petals are covered by oil and close it up again.

Wait two to three weeks and your oil will be infused by the energy of the sun.

Cooking the salve

Stage three can be done all in one day or you can strain your oil and keep it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks before making salve.

Step 8: Straining your infused oil

In stage three you will need:

  • a glass or ceramic bowl
  • cheese cloth or straining cloth
  • scissors
  • more clean jars to store your strained oil in
  • A pan (use enamel if possible, otherwise stainless steal, if possible use a pan that will only be used to make salve as it will be difficult to clean)
  • a stove with a low heat setting
  •  bees wax cut into pieces
  • a spoon
  • essential oils
  • liquid vitamin E or large vitamin E capsules and some very sharp scissors
  • new or recycled salve and lotion containers or small jars and plastic containers
  • a ladle or a measuring cup with a spout
  • a funnel
  • Sticky labels or paper and tape, a good permanent pen or a printer

Cut a large piece of cheese cloth for each jar of infused oil. Place a piece of cheese cloth over your bowl and carefully dump the contents of one of your herb-and-oil jars onto it. Grasp the corners of the cheese clothe and lift it so that all the herb material stays in the cheese cloth. Carefully wrap it into a package and wring it out like a wet swimming suit to get all the oil out of the herbs.

Look at the interesting colors of your oil. Some will be very dark green or almost black, others will still be light and golden, some may even be reddish. This depends on which herb you have used.

If necessary, you can store this strained oil for a few days before making salve but you now have to store it in the refrigerator and don’t forget to label it again!

Step 9:  Heating your oil

Pour your infused herbal oil into a pan. You can make several different kinds of salve by heating each type of oil separately, thus intensifying the properties of each herb, or you can make a salve that combines a little of each of the properties of the herbs. If you mix them all together you’ll have a general healing salve, but it won’t be as strong for a specific purpose. Even so, I often add a little plantain to a lot of different salves because it is good for almost everything.

Heat the oil slowly on a low heat while you prepare the other ingredients of your salve. Try NOT to let your oil boil. Some herbs lose medicinal potency if they’re boiled, so use a low heat and keep an eye on it.

Caution: Boiling oil is notorious with good reason. It can spatter, causing significant burns, and even catch fire.

Step 10: Adding wax and testing for consistency

Now is when this starts to look like magic. Once your oil is warm, add some pieces of bees wax to your oil and slowly melt them. The official ratio is about one ounce wax to one cup of oil but this isn’t exact.

I suggest starting with a chunk of wax about as big as a tennis ball for a quart of oil. Let the wax melt into the hot oil. Then turn off the heat and put a small amount of the hot oil onto a spoon and place it in the freezer for 3 to 5 minutes until it is cool but not freezing.

Then test out the consistency of the salve on your skin. You’ll want a different consistency for different things. A lip gloss should be pretty firm and a facial salve will also want a bit of set to it, while a salve for eczema or scrapes will need to be a little softer but still thick enough to hold its shape.

If the salve isn’t thick enough yet, add some smaller pieces of wax, let them melt and try the spoon in the freezer again until you get the right consistency.

Then turn off the heat and take your pan of the stove.

Step 11: Adding good smells and preservatives

This is where you get to use the essential oils you chose in step one.

Both essential oils and vitamin E are heat sensitive, so do this step once the heat is off. Add about 20 to 30 drops of essential oil per half quart of oil. Be careful not to put your face right over the pan while you do this. The vapor from hot essential oil is very intense and can burn your eyes and nose.

Stir and add a teaspoon of vitamin E or cut open and squeeze out five or six capsules of vitamin E. Vitamin E helps to make your salve last longer and it is good for your skin when it’s diluted.

Don’t leave undiluted essential oil or vitamin E on your skin. If you get it on you, wash it off. Even though it doesn’t hurt you immediately, it can cause skin damage.

Step 12:  Pouring your salve into containers

Carefully ladle your oil and wax mixture into salve containers when it is still hot. Don’t let it cool in the pan. The salve will be very hot and hard to remove from skin quickly, so be very careful not to spill it on yourself or on children.

Step 13: Labeling and storing your salve

Let your salve cool and solidify before you move it, but on’t forget to label your salve containers right away. It will be impossible to tell which kind is which later or even to remember what exactly you put in it, even if you made only one kind. Include the date. Salve made like this lasts six months to a year if stored in a cool dark place.

That’s it. You’ve made real medicine that can stand up well in comparison with specialty pharmaceutical salve or ointment for healing ability, anti-fungal action, eczema reduction or allergy control.

I love hearing from you. What are your experiences and experiments with herbs? If you haven't started using herbal medicinals yet, what sparked your interest in this topic? Feel free to comment with the comment button at the bottom of this post on the left or share this post with your social networks using the share button on the bottom right. 

Note:  Please remember that this is not medical advice for your specific needs.