How to Make an Herbal Liniment

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How to make an herbal liniment for muscle pain and stiffness
Wellness Mama » Blog » Natural Remedies » How to Make an Herbal Liniment

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.

How to make an herbal liniment for muscle pain and stiffness
5 from 3 votes

Herbal Liniment Recipe

This easy herbal liniment uses witch hazel and dried herbs for a powerful sore muscle fighter with peppermint, menthol, cayenne, ginger, etc.
Prep Time5 minutes
Infusing Time28 days
Yield: 1 cup
Author: Katie Wells



  • 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.


Liniments should only be used externally and on unbroken skin. This mixture is shelf stable and will last several years. If you have sensitive skin or are using this on children, reduce the amount of herbs and menthol by half. Menthol crystals will easily dissolve in alcohol or witch hazel, so if you aren’t sure how strong you want your liniment, start with less and add more to the finished liniment if needed. Check with a doctor before using if pregnant/nursing or if you have a medical condition.
*The reason alcohol is often used is that it penetrates skin and evaporates very quickly. It is also very effective at extracting the beneficial properties of the herbs used in this liniment and is used as an antiseptic (a liniment made with alcohol could be used on open wounds depending on the herbs used). Some people prefer not to use alcohol or find it drying, and witch hazel offers another great alternative with beneficial properties of its own.

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?


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Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


44 responses to “How to Make an Herbal Liniment”

  1. Francine Chua Avatar
    Francine Chua

    hi, I’m a student! do you have any studies that contain the same procedure like this one? very much needed, thank you!

    1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      No, the alcohol or the alcohol in the witch hazel is what extracts the beneficial properties of the herbs and preserves the recipe. Vodka or vinegar will also work though.

  2. Melissae Bletsian Avatar
    Melissae Bletsian

    Maybe you won’t see this since this was written so long ago, but I’m not having luck finding anything that is useful so here goes…. I’ve got two large containers of liniment that I made a while back, but it’s so messy to use. I want to turn them into salve, I’d love to read some suggestions on how to convert liniment into salve.

  3. Deanna Avatar

    So i just made this liniment…maybe I should have asked beforehand, but is it ok to use all of the ingredients dry? Like even the peppermint leaves?

  4. donna woodhouse Avatar
    donna woodhouse

    Hello Wellness Mama. I am suffering with severe pain from arthritis in my knees and physio is not helping much (although I will definitely be continuing the exercises to strengthen my muscles). I also at present have a wrenched shoulder. I would like to try making your linament – I’ve never done anything like this before so all the ingredients will be new for me and I will need to buy them all. I was a little taken aback to see St. John’s Wort on the list. Not sure what it does in the linament, and wonder if I can leave it out??Are there any other ingredients I could leave out, that perhaps are just included for scent or something? [Sorry, that’s my naivety showing!] Thank you for your recipe and your advice here.

5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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