DIY Herbal Muscle Rub Recipe (+ essential oils)

Learn how to make your own herbal muscle rub. This recipe makes three 2-oz tins.

One of the things I’ve been really interested in recently is diving deeper into the benefits of herbs and essential oils.

Any time I can use things I’m growing in the garden for pain relief, or at the very least- things that occur in nature – I’m intrigued.

Vertical graphic with image of salve in a tin above text that reads- Homemade Sore Muscle Salve Recipe- with image of the raw ingredients below.

After pulling weeds in the garden all afternoon, it’s nice to know there are things from the garden that can address the pain it causes!

Herbal Salve for Sore Muscles

There was a time, of course, when herbal remedies were the only remedies. People knew how to grow or procure their own medicine, and it was invaluable knowledge.

Today, we have so many options when it comes to relieving something such as sore muscles. For me, I’m more aware than ever of the benefits versus potential side effects of the not-so-natural pain relievers in my medicine cabinet.

Not to mention, there have been shortages of certain store-bought remedies lately. Why not learn what we can about natural remedies, just in case?

Finished Herbal Muscle Rub salve in a tin container on a light wooden board on a countertop.

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Choosing Ingredients for Herbal Muscle Rub Recipe

Below is a brief explanation of the ingredients used in this sore muscle salve recipe. Feel free to research the benefits of other herbs and essential oils that might also target your specific needs.

If you’re already growing medicinal herbs in your garden, for instance, you can easily swap them out, and experiment with different combinations.

Ingredients for herbal infusion- dried herbs, flowers and avocado oil in individual containers on a marble background.

As always, read up or obtain professional consultation on these and any herbs and essential oils and understand how to safely use them beforehand.

Helichrysum flowers

Are flowers herbs, you might ask? Most gardeners consider an “herb” anything that has healing or therapeutic properties.

The genus Helichrysum encompasses a large family of flowering plants. It is often called “Everlasting Flowers” as they have an extremely long shelf life when dried, and retain their color as well. Another common name is Strawflower.

Two hands holding a handful of dried yellow helichrysum flowers against a white wood background.

There are many varieties of helichrysum seeds you can find online if you want to grow your own flowers. This is the most economical way to harvest the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of helichrysum.

The essential oil form is another option, though it’s one of the more pricey essential oils.

I’m growing this version from Baker Creek Seed Company this year.

Gotu Kola

Another herb that you can grow, buy dried, or as an essential oil. It’s known for numerous healing properties in Chinese medicine. One study even called it a “Potential herbal cure-all”.

Cut gotu kola stems on a white surface next to a white pestle and mortar.

In my research, it is meant to grow in zones 9b and above, which makes it a no-go in my 6b zone.

The dried herb will last quite a while for my purposes, though, and that’s what I’m using in this recipe.

Ginger Root

One of the more familiar ingredients to most of us, ginger is also known for reducing inflammation.

In this recipe, we’re using dried ginger root and also ginger root essential oil.

Dried, ground ginger on a wooden spoon beside a piece of ginger root on a wooden table.

Arnica

Arnica flowers have numerous benefits in the garden, but they are also used for their anti-inflammatory benefit when dried.

You can easily grow your own flowers and harvest the blossoms, or buy them dried.

Yellow arnica flowers growing on a mountainside.

Oil and Beeswax

Avocado oil is simply a good, clean oil for using topically on the skin. And, delicious and healthy for cooking – so it won’t go to waste at my house!

However, you can use any carrier oil in this herbal muscle rub recipe, including olive oil or fractionated coconut oil.

Unless you raise your own bees or have a local source for beeswax, you will want to buy beeswax pellets for this DIY muscle rub. Maybe buy in bulk and make some candles later? (Super fun, by the way.)

Using more beeswax will result in a firmer salve; using less will make it softer. How much you use is up to your preference.

Essential oils

four bottles of essential oil on a marble countertop next to a glass dish of beeswax pellets and a glass bowl of infused oil.

Wintergreen is commonly used for muscle pain, as it can both warm and sooth tired muscles.

You may have heard of using Copaiba for a toothache. Using it on sore muscles can have similar benefits of pain relief.

Ginger root essential oil is added to boost the anti-inflammatory benefit of ginger.

Clove oil is another warming, anti-inflammatory oil, among many other uses.

Herbal muscle rub salve in a silver tin

Herbal Muscle Rub Recipe (DIY Salve)

Yield: 3 two-ounce tins

Follow these steps for an herbal muscle rub that can help ease soreness, naturally.

Ingredients

For the Infused Oil:

  • ¼ cup Helichrysum flowers
  • ¼ cup Gotu Kola
  • ¼ cup Ginger root
  • ¼ cup Arnica
  • 1 ½ cup avocado oil

For the Salve:

  • 1 cup infused oil
  • 1 ½ -3 tablespoons beeswax pellets (depending on how thick you want them)
  • 5-10 drops of wintergreen essential oil
  • 5-10 drops of copaiba essential oil
  • 5 drops of ginger root essential oil
  • 5-10 drops of clove essential oil

Tools Needed:

  • Glass Jar
  • Double Boiler or Small Pot
  • Strainer, unbleached coffee filter, or cheesecloth
  • Microwave safe bowl
  • Spatula
  • Three 2-oz tins

Instructions

  1. Combine the helichrysum, goto kola, ginger root, and arnica into your glass jar.
  2. Pour the avocado oil into the glass jar to completely cover the herbs and have about an inch over the herbs.
  3. Use a double boiler or a pot and a little bit of water to heat the infused oil on your stove. Use a low setting for about 4-6 hours. Allow it to cool. Or, you can keep it in a cool, dark cupboard for 4-6 weeks if you don’t want to use the heat method.
  4. Put the coffee filter on top of another glass jar and strain the herbs from the oil. You can also use a strainer as well.
  5. Combine the beeswax and infused oil and heat on the double boiler until melted. Alternatively, you can also heat it in the microwave at 30-second intervals until it all melts.
  6. Add in your drops of essential oils and stir well.
  7. Pour the oil into your three tin containers.
  8. Allow them to sit uncovered for 4-6 hours or overnight until they harden up.

Learn more about using herbs for pain relief and more

Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs is a great starter book for learning to grow, harvest, and reap the benefits of herbs.

One of my favorite things about this book is that it focuses on herbs that have a wide variety of uses, and are easy to grow. I started with several of these in my first-year herb garden.

Let us know which herbs and oils you like to use for muscle aches, in the comments below.

You might also like:

Beginner’s guide to Living More Self-Sufficiently

Preserving Vegetables without the Fridge or Freezer

Best Online Seed Companies to buy garden seeds

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