by Crystal Higgins
There is an herbal awakening happening in the world right now. More and more folks are being drawn to the healing power and joy of being in deeper relationship with the herbs, the trees, the flowers and the natural world. I’ve always had a fascination with gardening, and have fond memories of digging in the dirt and learning about seemingly esoteric plants from my grandma Erma.
As a modern yogini who lives in an urban environment I’ve found myself making ritual out of tending to my houseplants, and also yearning for more time in connection with the natural world outside of my apartment.
Since the pandemic I’ve maxed out the amount of containers I can fit on my little deck – filled with lettuces, flowers, succulents and herbs. And I’ve even started a mini hot house garden in one window much to my cat’s delight. I’ve dived deep in herbal studies to learn some great methods for taking those herbs I’ve grown at home, or sourced from a reputable supplier (my favorite is Mountain Rose Herbs based in Oregon), to make herbal medicine and healing products. And also to connect with the plants themselves.
Up until a few years ago I didn’t know how, or even think it was possible, to make homemade herbal body care products and home remedies. And I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that the remedies we can make at home – with time, an open mind, and good teachers – are much higher quality, more affordable and so much better than much of what we see for sale!
When we start to look at the ways our modern culture has become disconnected from ancestral roots, and indigenous healing practices like herbalism, it is no surprise that these thoughts and doubts were in my mind. Herbalism is as old as we are – as all of my Herbalism teachers have said, it is why we are all here today. Our ancestors communed with the plants and trees, and developed many amazing ways to help us stay in good health through this before modern medicine. The recent boom in herbalism is I believe one additional way we are all waking up more and more to the possibilities for change and deeper connection in the world around us. Our relationship with the plant realm has been for too long severed.
Just like with cooking – the process of making a home DIY herbal product is very personal and subjective! I invite you to try this basic recipe out as listed first, and see how it goes. And if you are anything like me you will be amazed and love that you can create something really high quality on your own.
Since I recommend to work with organic ingredients and herbs, it is important to know that each time you make this salve it might come out a little bit different. Similar to when we are cooking and how the produce we use from the market can taste better one week compared to the next depending upon the growing conditions (rain, sun, etc.) and many factors! Each time you make it some factors might be slightly different, but the basic instructions are the same.
This style of herbalism is a “folk method” so there are general guidelines about measurements but it is really a starting point. I encourage you to play around until you discover preferred consistency / method. What I offer is a general outline, and you can change up the quantities of certain ingredients depending upon your liking.
Herbal Body Salve
½ Cup of Organic Oil (I love olive, but you could choose sesame, apricot kernel, coconut, jojoba or another per your liking)
Note : I highly recommend using an infused oil like a calendula oil, arnica oil, plantain oil, or any oil you like!
Approximately 1 TSP Organic Beeswax Pellets
Instructions : Setup a double boiler (a pot or a pan with water, and another pan on top).
Place about ¼ of the oil into a glass jar in the double boiler (make sure NOT to place this directly on the heat source – there should be water under this jar and a platform for the jar to rest up so it almost gets “steamed”), and bring the water to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and add in the beeswax pellets. Stir with a wooden stick (I like using a chopstick) until the beeswax is dissolved. Then add the rest of the oil, and stir for a few more minutes.
Have your jars ready to pour – I love using clear glass jars to see the color and consistency of the salve! Just make sure to store them in a space where they are not exposed to direct sunlight or heat.
Pour the mixed oil and beeswax blend into your jars, and let it cool. Then put the lid on, and you have a beautiful homemade herbal oil salve!
TIPS : If you use calendula oil, this salve is incredible for the skin, and can even help with bruises and cuts. It is anti-inflammatory and also so soothing to the nervous system. Calendula is safe for pregnant folks and babies as well!
If you use arnica oil, this salve is wonderful for sore muscles, bruises, and tension in the body. I love putting it on my shoulders in the morning or on my neck if it feels stiff!
If you use plantain oil, this salve is great for bug bites, stings and splinters. A great ally to have on hand anytime, but especially in the summer months!
CHANGING THE RECIPE : You can add more beeswax to make the salve more “solid” or less to make it softer. And try different oils to find the ones you love! The sky is the limit.
About Crystal: Crystal Marie Higgins is a lineaged Initiated Priestess, an Initiated Witch, as well as a Yoga Teacher, an Herbalist and an Ethical Marketer. She has been in devotion to earth wisdom, the cycles of the moon and the seasons since 2012. Crystal’s intention is to awaken our consciousness toward the radical practice of attuning your life and the flows of your creativity to the seasons of the year, the cycles of the moon and the wisdom found in the everyday. She is a lover of the plant realm, cooking, being outdoors and engaging in sacred rituals. You can learn more at crystalmariehiggins.com.