There is not an active person I know of who has not suffered at one time or another from sore muscles. Couple those sore muscles with tender, inflamed joints and you have a recipe for misery. I know this first hand because, being of a certain age, my joints hurt more often than not.
I am here to tell you that you do not need to suffer needlessly nor do you have to spend a fortune on pharmaceuticals or overpriced over the counter remedies concocted from ingredients you are unable to pronounce. Instead, you can make up a batch of homemade muscle and joint rub using a base salve or other carrier oil and a single essential oil: wintergreen.
Why wintergreen essential oil? It is inexpensive, readily available, and potent. A little goes a long way. Ready to learn more?
Homemade Muscle and Joint Rub: The Recipe
You will need:
- 30 drops Wintergreen Essential Oil
- 2 oz. base carrier salve ((instructions here and below)
- 2 oz. jar (or 2 x 1 oz. jars)
Scoop some premade base salve into a smaller jar and liquefy the contents in the microwave. Thirty seconds to a minute is more than enough time to liquify a one or two-ounce jar of salve.
Allow the liquified base salve to cool just a bit. You can use your finger or an instant thermometer to check the temperature, or you can do what I do and use an inexpensive infrared thermometer. Hold off on adding essential oils until the melted base salve is not hotter than 140 degrees or comfortable to the touch.
Add 30 drops of wintergreen essential oil to a two-ounce jar of your base carrier salve. This makes a 2.5% dilution which is plenty strong.
After adding the oils, stir things around with a coffee stick, cap the lid and if you are so inclined, shake it up baby to mix things even further.
To use the salve, take a good size dab (about the size of a nickel) and rub it over your aches and pains. You will find that it absorbs very quickly, providing almost immediate relief. Repeat as needed.
Optional: if you would like to kick things up a notch, also add 15 to 30 drops of Geranium essential oil to your 2-ounce jar of base salve or carrier oil. This will increase the total essential oil dilution to 5% while adding the anti-inflammatory properties of geranium essential oil. An anti-inflammatory is definitely what you need to provide relief from the discomfort of arthritis.
Note: While wintergreen essential oil is safe when used topically in small amounts, it should be avoided by anyone using blood thinners on a regular basis. Also, it is not a good choice for children unless it is used under the direction of a health care professional.
You Can Take it With You!
One thing I love about salves made from essential oils is their portability. I typically carry a jar or two of my favorites with me. What are those favorites? This joint pain formula plus of course, my Miracle Healing Salve which is more of an all-purpose healer for cuts and scrapes as well as an excellent moisturizer and skin reliever for bites, stings, sunburn and a host of other things. If you only want one salve, Miracle Healing Salve is it!
Prefer a roller ball formula? In that case, add a stingy 5 or 6 drops to a 10 ml rollerball and top with a liquid carrier oil such a Fractionated Coconut Oil. Personally, I prefer a salve but to each their own.
Base Carrier Salve
If you do not have any Base Salve ready to go, you can quickly make up a small batch or use straight coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or other natural carrier oil. These will be more liquid and thus more a massage oil than a rub or salve but they do work and are wonderful when used on a large area such as the shoulders or the entire back.
Base Carrier Salve
1/2 cup Virgin Coconut Oil
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 1/2 Tablespoons Beeswax Pellets
Measure the coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and beeswax into a heatproof glass jar or measuring cup. Set in a pan of water on a low simmer until completely melted. You can help things along by giving it a quick stir from time to time with a knife. This may take some time, up to 30 minutes.
When everything is completely melted, remove from heat.
Carefully pour the warm oil into ointment jars or small mason jars, leaving some headroom at the top. Set aside to firm up. Depending on the temperature of your home, this can take up to 12 hours.
In this photo, I am using my infrared thermometer to test a batch of DIY Base Salve
About Wintergreen Oil
Wintergreen has a fresh, minty aroma that is reminiscent of those Life Saver candies and breath mints we grew up with. Its primary component is methyl salicylate (90 to 98 percent). Methyl salicylate accounts for almost all the healing and pain relief properties in this essential oil although caution should be exercised to avoid drug interactions with blood thinning medications.
This same active ingredient, methyl salicylate is also found in Sweet Birch Essential Oil ( albeit at only 90 %). Although it is generally safe to use these oils in small amounts, avoid using Wintergreen essential oil and this particular muscle and joint rub if you take blood-thinning medications, are under the age of 12, or pregnant and breastfeeding.
The smell of Wintergreen is fresh and uplifting, making it a great choice for your diffuser. It is especially useful in clearing away displeasing kitchen smells. I also find that wintergreen EO in a diffuser useful for opening up my breathing passages when they are stuffed up due to the allergies I seem to have acquired here in Arizona.
Resource for additional information: https://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/wintergreen-oil.aspx
A Word About My Favorite Essential Oils
Since the beginning of 2019, I have struggled with the fact that I have primarily been using essential oils from a single company. On many levels, it was time for a change.
Alas, this was easier said than done since I needed to assess the performance of various EOs in my tried and true salve and roller ball formulas. In addition, I wanted to find a budget-friendly company that offered 100% free shipping all of the time.
My first successful tests have been with essential oils from Plant Therapy. This was a logical choice since Plant Therapy has always been my preferred source for carrier oils such as Fractionated Coconut oil and Jojoba oil. They carry a huge variety of EOs and are available to purchase directly both on the Plant Therapy website and on Amazon. As a bonus, their web site posts test results individually by oil along with the corresponding batch number. This assures me that the oils are not fake.
While there are many excellent EO companies, I am happy with my choice and hope you will check them out. Wherever you decide to purchase your oils, let your nose guide you. If your essential oil smells like paint thinner, return it. Good oils smell nice.
Suggested reading: The Snarky and Surprising Truth About Essential Oil Companies
The Prepping Angle
As a prepper, I have learned how to effectively use essential oils in lieu of over-the-counter remedies. Essential oils are my go-to first and foremost, and fingers-crossed, have allowed me to avoid trips to the drugstore and the purchase of expensive pharmaceuticals for mundane ailments. Although I have a large stockpile of assorted essential oils, a recent goal has been to pare my inventory down to a dozen or so of the most useful oils with a special emphasis on oils that are effective singly. Wintergreen is one of those oils not only because it is budget-friendly (at about $8 for a 10 ml bottle or $13 for 30 ml) but because a little goes a very long way, with a maximum desired dilution of 2.5%.
That, plus the benefits of a pleasing aroma that both clears the air and the sinus, makes Wintergreen essential oil a good choice for the prepper medicine chest.
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Summing It All Up
For years I have been using an aches and pains formula I developed and fondly call “The Birch”. My birch essential oil formula for arthritis, muscle and joint pain was originally posted on Backdoor Survival in 2015 and is still a mainstay of my EO arsenal. That said, good birch essential oil is expensive and is often difficult to source. I needed to find an alternative to use on my feet and toes which, of all places, seem to be afflicted with arthritis.
Fortunately, being retired has afforded me the luxury of experimenting with new things. Experimentation is how I discovered Wintergreen essential oil and I couldn’t be more pleased. So what’s up next? I plan to make a goats milk soap that incorporates the healing qualities of wintergreen essential oil. Stay tuned.
Yours for a Joyful Life,
Here are a few of the products I have mentioned in the article. As per my usual policy, I only provide links (and therefore endorse) products I own and use. For additional items, visit my Resources page.
Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer: I initially purchased this infrared thermometer for soap making but now use it when making salves, checking the refrigerator and oven temperature, and a myriad of other things. It is very affordable, typically priced at $17 or less.
Wintergreen Essential Oil: I am using wintergreen essential oil from Plant Therapy. I have been testing this brand since the first of the year and am more than a little bit pleased with the results. I like that it can be sourced on Amazon and shipping is always free. The Plant Therapy website also includes free shipping and returns on everything and provides consumers with a wealth of useful information, including DIY recipes.
Two-ounce glass jars: These are the jars I use. Over the years I have converted from plastic to glass but that does not mean I still don’t use plastic for certain applications (see below).
1/2 ounce Plastic Jars: For portability, I love these small plastic jars. They are inexpensive (ok, downright cheap), and lightweight. You can easily carry them in your pocket, pack or handbag, or use them to give away samples of your homemade salves. And by the way, when I say cheap, I mean 20 jars for less than $10.
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