There’s a famous herbal pain remedy called Kloss Liniment – created by American herbalist, Jethro Kloss. It became incredibly popular as an external treatment for pain – and throughout the years the recipe has been made in households and even adapted into products. Another famous liniment, 9 Oils, from the 19th century was initially made for horses until people started using it. You may have heard of Tiger Balm, developed by a Chinese herbalist in 1870, it still remains a popular pain relief treatment.
All of these different variations of liniments for pain – throughout time and the world – all have the same herbal principle in common: They’re made with herbs specific to giving a cooling and warming sensation, moving blood flow, soothing inflammation and reducing pain.
Liniments are a useful remedy to help ease cramps, swelling, muscle aches, arthritic pain and sore joints. In this article, you’ll learn how to make your own liniment, to soothe you aching pains away!
What is a Liniment
A liniment is a rubbing mixture for the skin, made with medicinal herbs infused into rubbing alcohol or grain alcohol. Liniments are for external use only, rubbed onto skin, the alcohol evaporates very quickly, allowing the herbs to rapidly penetrate the skin, muscles and tissue.
They’re often made specifically for treating pain and inflammation, but depending on the herb choices you can also address different conditions: to cool an area, disinfect a cut or wound, to soothe bruises, sprain, sunburn and reduce varicose veins.
The beauty of learning about herbs is that you can create a liniment with herbs that are specific to your needs, and that are accessible to you.
For example, the original Kloss Liniment recipe features anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving echinacea, goldenseal, myrrh and cayenne. You can source all of those herbs online, and follow a recipe shared by one of my herb mentors: https://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/jethro-kloss/
But just like cooking and following a recipe, it’s more beneficial to understand the goal and purpose of the ingredients, so that you can feel comfortable making substitutions and making your own creations.
When I think about creating a blend, or formulation, I think about the condition we’re treating and the herbal actions that support the healing of that condition. An herbal action is the effect that the herb has on the body.
Specifically for sore, aching, swollen, inflammatory conditions, I start to think about the following actions:
- Anti-inflammatory: Herbs that alleviate inflammation
Chamomile, Ashwagandha, Black Pepper, Calendula, Violet, Rose, Meadowsweet, Frankincense, Myrrh, California Poppy
- Analgesic: Herbs that help to relieve pain
Arnica, Myrrh, Peppermint, Rosemary, Yarrow, Comfrey, Willow Bark, Cayenne, Frankincense, California Poppy
- Circulatory: Herbs that increase blood flow
Rosemary, Ginger, Lavender, Gotu Kola, Cardamom
- Antispasmodic: Herbs that help to ease cramping
Basil, Ginger, Juniper, Ashwagandha, Licorice, Rosemary, Kava Kava, Myrrh, California Poppy
- Warming: Herbs that provide a warming sensation
Ginger, Juniper, Black Pepper, Cayenne, Cardamom
- Cooling: Herbs that provide a cooling sensation:
Lavender, Peppermint, Spearmint, also Menthol Crystals
As you can see, one herb can have many different actions. And this means that you can simplify your formula and focus on just a few herbs, which together meets all the needs.
The blend that I came up with uses common pantry herbs, with all the healing actions that you’d want from an achy joint and muscle pain-relieving remedy. My hope is that this blend feels attainable to you, something that you can make from supermarket ingredients. But from the above list of herbs and actions, you can create your own blend too!
Once you have chosen your herbs, simply get some rubbing alcohol and you’re ready to start making!
Do I have to use alcohol?
Alcohol is a solvent that very effectively draws out the healing constituents of herbs. It’s a very easy way to make external medicine. But being an alcohol-based remedy, you wouldn’t use a liniment as daily “skincare” on your face, or all over your body. It’s for specific areas of the body that need relief.
Liniments are usually made with rubbing alcohol (70% alcohol), but you can also use witch hazel (14% alcohol) which is far less drying on the skin. Plus you get the added anti-inflammatory and astringent benefits of witch hazel. Another option is apple cider vinegar.
The benefit of using rubbing alcohol is that it’s inexpensive, readily available, and if you’re only using it occasionally as a first-aid remedy – any negative points of using alcohol on skin will not be an issue.
Achy Rub Recipe
An herbal liniment for achy joints and muscles
- 2 Tbsp dried Chamomile
- 2 Tbsp dried Rosemary
- 2 Tbsp dried Lavender
- 2 Tbsp dried Peppermint
- 2 Tbsp dried Ginger
- 1 Tbsp Cayenne Powder
- 2 cups rubbing alcohol, Witch Hazel or Vinegar
*You can substitute any dried ingredients for fresh, triple the amount
- In a clean quart jar, add in all of the herbal ingredients
- Pour in the rubbing alcohol, until fully covered
- Now lit it sit to infuse for 4 weeks.
- During that time, shake the jar often to encourage the exraction
- After 4 weeks, strain out the herbs and discard
- Reserve the liquid.
- Bottle the liniment in mist bottle (like this) for easy application.
- Spray onto the achy area, several times per day, rubbing the liniment in.
* This is a nice set to invest in for all your future projects.