Easing Those Aches and Pains
We get our share of bumps, bruises and scrapes while working and playing at our country home. Our preferred treatments are herbal or homeopathic. I’ve outlined two of our go-to remedies below.
Our first treatment, comfrey salve, we use for skin irritations. Luckily, the previous owners planted comfrey next to the compost bin, as its leaves can be tossed into the compost heap to accelerate decomposition. We discovered that comfrey also improves soil, but more pertinent to this post, it also works wonders for bruises, rashes, bug bites and other skin irritations. Made into a salve and then spread over the affected spot, the comfrey speeds healing. Comfrey should not be taken internally or used on open wounds. Here’s a good read to learn more about comfrey from Mother Earth News.
Since the salve we make uses dried comfrey leaves, we begin by cutting and drying the comfrey. The best time to harvest comfrey (and any herb for that matter) is in the morning after the dew has dried from the leaves. We then lay the comfrey on something that allows air to circulate fully around the leaves, and place that out in the sun (last year we used a piece of a wooden pallet). We let the comfrey sit in the sun for several days until no trace of moisture remains. At night, we put the comfrey under a shelter to prevent the dew from settling on it, then place it back in the sun the next day to continue curing. Once dry, we crush the leaves and store them until we can make the salve. If you want to give it a try, I recommend following the directions to make the salve posted by Creative Christian Mama. If you need a source of dried comfrey, we can help you out.
Our second treatment, a poultice, we use to relieve pain. Dad Harrold aggravated a tendon in his elbow through the chore of splitting firewood. This injury is also known as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, but we refer to it as chopper’s elbow.
We came across a recipe for a poultice for pain relief and mixed up a new batch to try. We spread it on the elbow, wrapped it in plastic wrap and left it for the recommended 30 minutes. Afterward, Dad was able to use his elbow without much discomfort for the remainder of the day. We applied the poultice again on the next two mornings. The elbow still causes him some discomfort, but it hasn’t been as debilitating since we used the poultice. You can find the recipe for the Spicy Pain Relieving Poultice below
Comfrey salve is also beneficial for muscle pulls or strains when smoothed over the injured area.
But… sometimes things happen that make you appreciate modern medicine. I was collecting some leaf mulch to put into the chicken run with a narrow-tined pitchfork. I jabbed the pitchfork into some leaves near my feet and managed to also put it through my rubber boot and through a toe. Since my last tetanus shot was 10 years ago, it was off to the walk-in clinic. I received my shot and some antibiotic pills and cream. As a rule, I don’t like to take antibiotics, but they do have their place and time, and this was one of them. I tried to compensate by upping my intake of probiotics.
Dad Harrold assured me that he would collect the leaf mulch from now on, since he has steel-toed boots and more presence of mind. However, I think he is over-confident about his presence of mind since the first time he went to gather some mulch he wore open-toed Crocs!
Spicy Pain Relieving Poultice
1 tablespoon aloe gel
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Blend all ingredients into a paste. Spread the paste over the affected area and hold in place using plastic wrap. Wash hands with soap and water as the cayenne can burn sensitive areas. Remove the paste after 30 minutes.
Note: Turmeric can dye fabrics and will stain clothing. It will also temporarily dye skin yellow.
Source: Linda White, 2014. Spice Away Soreness, Mother Earth News Food and Garden Series: Guide to Healing Herbs. pp 61-63.