This salve is formulated to help ease the pain of cramps associated with menstruation or overworked back muscles. It may also be used to help speed the healing of bruises and to reduce arthritis pain.
Arnica (Arnica montana), also known as mountain tobacco and wolf's bane, is the workhouse of this formula. The flowers of this plant contain sesquiterpene lactones, a group of about 5,000 compounds that occur naturally in several plant families, and by far the most in the Asteraceae, or sunflower family, to which arnica belongs. Studies have shown that arnica sesquiterpene lactones suppress MMP1 and MMP13 mRNA, enzymes that are involved in inflammation and the deterioration of cartilage and joint damage. This action occurs due to the DNA binding of transcription factors AP-1 and NF-kappaB.
The primary active constituents found in ginger root are the phenolic compounds shogaol and gingerol, both of which demonstrate a variety of actions that include anti-oxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities. Ginger root extracts have been used to address nausea, gastrointestinal disorders, inflammation and pain in Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of healing for thousands of years.
Lavender has been shown to exert anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, largely due to 1,8-cineole, an organic compound also known as eucalyptol. As the latter implies, this compound is also found in various species of eucalyptus. It is also found in ginger root. The topical use as well as the aromatherapeutic use of lavender has been shown to reduce pain associated with childbirth.
White thyme essential oil is produced from redistilled oil of red thyme. This member of the mint family has potent antifungal, antimicrobial, insecticidal and antispasmodic properties due to the presence of carvacrol and thymol. Carvacrol is of particular interest in terms of pain relief because it has been shown to inhibit an inflammatory enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). In fact, in a triple-blind clinical study at Nara Women’s University in Japan involving 84 women diagnosed with dysmenorrhea, researchers found that carvacrol was more effective than ibuprofen in relieving cramps and pain.
Combine the arnica oil and beeswax in the top of a double boiler. Gently heat on low until the beeswax is completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in the essential oils. Carefully pour into clean tins or glass jars (plan on using 3-4 two-ounce size containers). Let the salve cool undisturbed for 8 hours or overnight. Cap, label and store in a cool place. To use, rub a small amount where needed with fingers. Note: Do not use on broken skin.
Jager C, Hrenn A, Zwingmann J, et al. Phytomedicines prepared from Arnica flowers inhibit the transcription factors AP-1 and NF-kappaB and modulate the activity of MMP1 and MMP13 in human and bovine chondrocytes. Planta Med. Oct 2009;75(12):1319-1325.
KrishnapuraSrinivasan. Ginger rhizomes (Zingiber officinale): A spice with multiple health beneficial potentials. PharmaNutrition Volume 5, Issue 1, March 2017, Pages 18-28.
Yazdkhasti M, Pirak A. The effect of aromatherapy with lavender essence on severity of labor pain and duration of labor in primiparous women. Complement Ther Clin Pract. Nov 2016;25:81-86.
Salmalian H, Saghebi R, Moghadamnia AA, Bijani A, Faramarzi M, Nasiri Amiri F, Bakouei F, Behmanesh F, Bekhradi R. Comparative effect of thymus vulgaris and ibuprofen on primary dysmenorrhea: A triple-blind clinical study. Caspian J Intern Med. 2014 Spring;5(2):82-8.