Buy dried yellowroot and other wild herbs at Payne Mountain Farms.
Herbal ointments contain oils, fats, or beeswax along with beneficial herbs and essential oils. They are used to protect, heal, and moisturize the skin and are easy to make at home.
Ointments are used for diaper rash, dry skin, chapped skin, and irritated skin. They can be used on most parts of the body depending on added ingredients. Lotions and creams are thinner and contain water. They can also be simple to make at home.
The best ointments contain beeswax and a good vegetable oil such as almond, grape seed, walnut, safflower, or olive oil. Ointments are easy to make. Take a couple of tablespoons of beeswax, cover with oil and heat in small glass or stainless pan until wax is melted. Watch carefully and stir often to help wax melt and blend with the oil. Add five to ten drops of a favorite essential oil, stir gently, cover, and place in the refrigerator to cool. (The resulting solid will have the consistency of petroleum jelly.) The more wax that is added, the harder the resulting ointment will be.
Larger quantities of ointment can be made in a double boiler. Add wax and oil and stir until blended. Add essential oil or whole herbs if desired. If using whole herbs, heat gently for up to an hour then strain mixture through cheesecloth or jelly bag.
Other ingredients such as cocoa butter, lanolin, or vitamin E may be added for extra strength. Tinctures may also be added to ointments. Add one drop of tincture of benzoin to guard against mold. Benzoin acts as a natural preservative. You can also add tea tree oil to stop mold from forming. Refrigeration also deters mold growth.
When making ointments and creams, use appropriate herbs or essential oils depending on condition to be treated. Try adding geranium, neroli, and frankincense to help promote new cell growth. Use lavender to speed healing in cases of abrasions. Add eucalyptus or tea tree oil for treating colds (use like over-the-counter vapor rub). Add peppermint, eucalyptus, or wintergreen for chest congestion. Use ginger and fennel to stimulate circulation. Use rose for hormonal problems. Try rosemary and patchouli for arthritis pain. Try adding carrot oil for spider bites.
Creams and lotions are like ointments but not as thick. They have added water and a thinner consistency. Water based mixtures are good for cooling and soothing irritated and inflamed skin. They usually require an emulsifier to help the water blend with the fat. Borax is easy to use and helps to bond fats with water (but extended use of products containing borax will dry out skin). Lecithin is a natural emulsifier made from egg yolks and works well with beeswax.
One easy recipe for lotion includes rosewater, borage juice, witch hazel, and chickweed tincture. Apply with a cotton ball three times a day.
Homemade ointments, creams, and lotions will last for several weeks. To lengthen shelf life, add benzoin tincture (available at most health food stores), tea tree oil, or keep in the refrigerator. All herbal products deteriorate faster than petroleum products whether preservatives are added or not.
Store ointments in a tightly sealed container and keep in a cool, dark place. Discard if any mold appears. See Astringents and infused oils for more ways to use herbal products on the skin.
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* Ointments, creams, and lotions are for external use only. Do not take internally. Herbs interact with other medicines so always consult with your healthcare provider before using any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medicines.