1. Decide whether you want to make the 3. Cover them with oil and cap tightly.
fragrant, relaxing oil or the oil to soothe sore 4. Let sit in the sun for 3 to 4 weeks, shaking muscles. Wilt the appropriate herbs and every few days, i V
flowers overnight. 5. Add more oil as necessary to keep the
2. Place the wilted herbs and flowers in a plant material covered, glass jar. 6. Line the strainer with cheesecloth.
Oils infused with healing herbs are among the most versatile homemade body care products. Using an herbal oil as a base, it's easy to create custom-scented massage and bath oils as well as skin softeners for face and body. You can also use the oil as a base for making salves and creams.
This massage oil recipe is a favorite of Julie Bailey, owner of Mountain Rose Herbs, a mail-order supplier of herbs and herbal products in North San Juan, California. Julie makes herbal oil blends for her best-selling massage oils. To reduce the moisture, Julie wilts the herbs for 24 hours by laying them out on screens.
Ingredients and Supplies
2 or 3 clean glass jars
Extra-virgin olive oil
Glass storage container
Fragrant, relaxing blend
1 part calendula (Calendula officinalis) 1 part damiana leaves (Turnera diffusa) I part lavender buds 1 part red rose petals or rose geranium leaves (Pelargonium graveolens) Vi part rosemary leaves Vi part self heal leaves and flowers (Prunella vulgaris)
Blend for soothing sore muscles 2 parts calendula petals (Calendula officinalis) 1 part chamomile flowers H part ginger root (Zingiber officinale) Rose and lavender essential oils 1 part mugwort leaves and flowers (Artemisia spp.)
7. Strain the oil into a clean glass jar, squeezing as much oil out of the cheesecloth as possible.
8. Let the oil sit for 1 to 1 weeks in a cool, dark place.
9. If sediment or water settles to the bottom of the jar, pour off the oil into a clean glass storage jar, being careful not to include the impurities.
10. Store the finished oils in a cool, dark place, where they will keep for at least I year.
11. To use, pour a cup of the oil into a small container. Scent with essential oils, if desired.
Note: "I like to pick the plants on the new moon and strain the oil on the next new moon," Julie says. "This gives a natural rhythm to my work."
Variation: To soothe pain, try a massage oil made with St.-John's-wort (Hypericum perforatum). "St.-John's-wort oil is a good remedy of choice for inflamed muscle and nerve pain. It's effective for bruises, contusions, inflamed arthritic joints, and even sunburn," says pharmacist and herbalist Lynn Shumake of Blue Mountain Herbal Apothecary in Glenelg, Maryland.
"The oil is especially fun to make because it turns a beautiful rich burgundy color after 2 to 3 months," Lynn adds. "That's when you know it's ready." Lynn uses sesame oil for his herb-infused oils. "Sesame oil may be more expensive, but it won't turn rancid. In India, where it is considered a sacred oil, it's been used for centuries without refrigeration."
Quick G^gkjtiAL MA£SA5E Oils
Herbalist Rita C. Karydas, owner of Lunar Farms Herbal Specialist and Learning Center in Gilmer, Texas, makes quick massage oils using grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, and vitamin E oil. "Grapeseed oil is great for massage, since it's absorbed quickly and doesn't leave a sticky film," says Rita. "A combination of sweet almond oil and olive oil has therapeutic properties, soothes, moisturizes, and is good for most skin types. Try 3 parts almond oil to 1 part olive oil. Add ]a teaspoon of vitamin E as an antioxidant to extend the shelf life of your massage oil blend."
Twenty-five drops of essential oils is enough for a 2-ounce bottle. After you add and mix your essential oils, let the bottle sit for an hour or longer; then smell and adjust the fragrance blend to suit your taste. Try the following essential oils to make special massage blends. Congestion blend: eucalyptus, lemon, tea tree
Sore muscle blend: lavender, rosemary, peppermint Sports blend (cooling, stimulating, and relieves muscle pain): sweet birch, peppermint, spearmint
"Gently massage the oil onto aflected areas," Lynn says. "You may apply warm, moist heat with a washcloth. Repeat 2 to 3 times daily." St.-John's-wort may cause sun sensitivity on long exposure. As a precaution, use a good sunscreen lotion.
Herbal ^eep Pillows
Having trouble sleeping? Maybe you need a soporific pillow. Herbs like hops and mugwort induce sleep,- rosemary and lavender are soothing; and thyme is good for the respiratory system. "This pillow works like a charm for my wife, Lucy," claims herbalist Rob Wood of Spoutwood Farm in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania. Rob created this blend from dried herbs, enclosed it in a pillowcase, and then inserted the herbal pillow into another pillowcase. He simply removes the herbal sack and washes the outer pillowcase as needed.
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