Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
If you were to visit my home and glance inside my pantry, you’d find the normal food stapes, but also several baskets and bins of assorted homemade herbal remedies in jars, tinctures in dropper bottles and salves in tins that we use for various ailments.
This herbal liniment is a mainstay in my home apothecary and we use it for sore muscles and other aches and pains (on un-broken skin!).
What is a Liniment?
A liniment is a topic remedy, either oil based or liquid, that helps relieve pain, stiffness and sore muscles.
Some liniments are oil based, but my preferred homemade liniment has an alcohol and witch hazel base with a concentration of herbs. Alcohol or witch hazel based liniments are highly effective because the alcohol is so quickly absorbed by the skin, carrying with it the beneficial properties of the added herbs.
Liniments can be made “warm” or “cool” by using different herbs. Using a mixture of cooling herbs (peppermint and menthol) and warming herbs (cayenne and ginger) can help create an alternating effect that I find more effective. I also like to add herbs that help speed recovery in other ways, like arnica, comfrey and yarrow, to speed healing even more.
Liniments have a long history of use on humans and on horses. In a sense, they are considered an “old-time” remedy, but they are still very effective and my go-to for muscle pain and soreness.
Why a Liniment?
I wish I’d had this remedy over a decade ago when I met my husband… We met on a walk across America one summer. We were with a group of college students and as a group we walked over 60+ miles a day, averaging about 15 miles per day individually. I’d “prepared” for the walk by running or jogging a couple of miles a day and buying new running shoes. Both big mistakes.
Mistake #1- New shoes + 15 miles a day = Blisters. Lots of blisters.
Mistake #2- Jogging uses completely different movement than walking and I felt my mistake for most of the first week of walking. In fact, the first couple of days, I was so sore, I didn’t know how I’d keep walking.
How I wish I’d had this homemade herbal liniment those first few weeks. The drug-store liniment we had didn’t do much for my sore muscles and it took a full week before my body got used to the walking so I wasn’t sore each day.
I’ve used this herbal liniment many times since I first made it several years ago, and it is by far the most effective topical remedy I’ve found for sore muscles. The beauty of a DIY liniment is that you can customize the strength and scent to meet your needs.
TIP: I’ve also found that alternating this with spray magnesium oil helps speed recovery even more.
Herbal Liniment Recipe
- 2 TBSP arnica flowers
- 2 TBSP comfrey flowers
- 2 TBSP lavender flowers
- 2 TBSP peppermint leaf
- 1 TBSP yarrow flowers
- 1 TBSP St. John’s Wort
- 1 tsp menthol crystals
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 TBSP fresh ginger (finely chopped, optional)
- 1 cup witch hazel (or rubbing alcohol*)
- Place all the herbs, menthol crystals, and fresh ginger if using in a pint size glass mason jar.
- Add the witch hazel or rubbing alcohol and make sure that all the herbs are covered.
- Let the mixture sit for at least 4 weeks (8 is preferable).
- Strain out the herbs and store the finished liniment in a spray bottle for easy use. If you don’t have a spray bottle, store in any glass bottle or jar and use a cotton ball or gauze pad for easy application. Use as needed for sore muscles.
A Simple Oil Based Alternative
I mentioned that I preferred an alcohol/witch hazel based liniment because I’ve found that they are more effective, but they do take several weeks to make correctly. If you don’t have the time, or would prefer not to order dried herbs, there is a simple and quick way to make an oil-based liniment that is almost as effective:
- Place 1/2 cup of carrier oil (almond, olive, coconut, etc) in a small jar. Add five drops of each of these essential oils (or any combination of these): Peppermint, Rosemary, Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Ginger.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Lauren Jefferis, board certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor or work with a doctor at SteadyMD.
Have you ever used an herbal liniment? Did it work for you?
Discussion (43 Comments)
I made a liniment while searching for a remedy for my friends back pain (doctors could do nothing) where I literally went through the herb book I used and our cupboards and put EVERYTHING that was good for pain an alcohol liniment. It works amazing on everything from arthritis and sprains to bumps and bruises. It helps with swelling too.
I keep it in my bag when I hike now, because I had to hike 7 miles back to the car after I tore a muscle in and fractured my ankle when I fell down the mountain, when the the rocks I was standing on gave way. The liniment eliminated the pain element, so with my hiking poles for support my friend didn’t have to carry me.
Would you mind posting the recipe? I have Lupus and I have extreme pain and arthritis in my hands, wrists, knees, and pretty much all of my joints. I would try gladly try it! I am so glad I found Wellness Mama!
I know this is a little off topic, but since we’re talking about pain relief thought it was worth posting.
My wife has Lupus, & had fibromyalgia real bad. I had a “Zapper”, which is a little contraption that operates on a 9 volt battery like used in smoke detectors. You hold one object in each hand with each connected to the Zapper by a wire. A very mild current runs through your body from hand to hand.
My wife used it 2x per day for one month. after 2 weeks she started to feel relief from the pain, & after one month she was totally free of pain & stopped using the Zapper. She then had no pain at all for 2 yrs, then the pain started to come back but not as strong. After using the Zapper again for about one week the pain went away again & has never returned for about 5-6 yrs now.
You can find Zappers on line. Mine was a simple one that I paid slightly over $100.00 for. I am not a Zapper salesman & have no interest in saying these things except that others may be helped.
If I knew you & you lived nearby you could use mine for free.
Have enjoyed your site for several years now. Tried many of your health receipes. Will try the alcohol/witch hazel liniment receipe for it seems the easier. Thank you for helping families become self sufficient when it comes to choosing products for their health. I am much more aware of chemicals and look at the ingredients on products that I purchase now or make.
Could I use vodka instead of alcohol to make this?
Vodka is a type of alcohol…
Have you tried mustard or turmeric
vodka is usually 40% alcohol. i guess it would work. pure alcohol should work much better
Is the oil-based version safe for pregnancy? Thank you!
Any recommendations for edema (swelling) from arthritis? Or, do u feel this remedy as it is is effective?
Thank you for this! I have a potentially dumb question: Do you just spray it on and let it air dry? Or do you make it into a compress? Or rub it in? Again, thank you for this awesome information. I LOVE making new herbal remedies and I haven’t done this one yet.
Rub it in gently 🙂
I was going to order Ginger and Rosemary…as I’d like to make the oil based remedy…however I remembered I have Hylands Arnica spray and a homeade Arnica salve…would the oil in the recipe above work just the same as the Arnica concoctions?
Thanks for this recipe! I would definitely love to use this to relieve some joint pain and muscle stiffness. I’m currently nursing. Is this safe for nursing moms?
For the oil based-essential oil recipe…does it matter if its eucalyptus radiata or globus? Also at whats the youngest age you recommend using the oil-essential oil spray?
I would not use the essential version on children younger than 6 personally, but it is very diluted, so check with a naturopath or aromatherapist. I use Eucalyptus Radiata because it is what I have on hand.
I tried to make my own liniment oil base.but i confuse of what is realy the right oil to be use.
My sister is a ballet dancer… I should make her some of this for Christmas!