Spicy-Hot Muscle Salve (100% natural!)
Everybody knows Deep Heat, right? While it’s great for relieving pain by providing warmth on sore areas, Deep Heat (and other commercial variations) often contain toxic and questionable ingredients such as Quaternium-15 and chloroxylenol. Quaternium-15 releases formaldehyde gases, and has been known to cause sensitisation, contact dermatitis, allergic reactions and cardiovascular and immunotoxicity. Chloroxylenol is derived from petroleum and is an antimicrobial, which means every time you rub it on your skin, it may adversely affect the good microbes in your gut. No wonder it is also suspected as toxic to the immune system (imbalanced gut = poor functioning immune system). Chloroxylenol can also cause skin irritation, and is also very damaging to the environment as it is bioaccumulative. The scary thing about Deep Heat is often only ‘active’ ingredients are listed on the packaging – there could be many other toxic ‘inactive’ ingredients in the balm that we are totally unaware of.
At our DIY Chemical-Free Father’s Day workshop, we learnt to make a Spicy-Hot Muscle Salve to give to our Dads for Father’s Day! The salve is therapeutic, using cayenne and ginger powder and anti-inflammatory essential oils to create the same effect as Deep Heat. The heat created is not as ‘intense’ as Deep Heat – it is much more mild, but the effects of the spices and oils seep into the muscles and joints to work their anti-inflammatory magic. It’s not only effective at relieving pain from sore muscles, joints and injuries, but it is also 100% natural!
Coconut oil and beeswax act as the base for the salve and a carrier for the essential oils. They are both deeply nourishing for the skin. Cayenne and ginger powder are both well-known for their soothing properties. Cayenne stimulates circulation and increases blood flow to the affected area, which supports healing. It also contains capsaicin, which reduces the amount of Substance P – a chemical pain transmitter in the body. Ginger contains other compounds that have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving benefits. The essential oils of peppermint, rosemary, wintergreen and lavender that will go into the salve all contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Some of the active ingredients in Deep Heat are from the chemical constituents found in essential oils, such as menthol (in peppermint) and methyl salicylate (in wintergreen). Wintergreen has that Deep Heat kind of smell, and it is actually the properties in wintergreen which give Deep Heat its warming, pain-relieving effect. It makes sense, then, to ditch the commercial-made products that also contain toxic ingredients, and use powerful anti-inflammatory essential oils instead! Some other great anti-inflammatory essential oils include copaiba, lemongrass, clove, eucalyptus, thyme, marjoram and the Young Living blends PanAway and Aroma Siez. This salve, and the individual oils above, can be used not just to help relieve the pain of sore muscles, but for other inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, tendonitis, pain from injuries, sciatica, etc.