Salve Recipe for Bruises and Connective Tissue
This recipe is a synthesis of two different formulas that I came across. A sort of East-meets-West you might say. One is dit dat jow, which is a Chinese martial arts formulas used for impact injuries (thus the Safflower and Frankincense) and different western connective tissue injury combinations (thus the Soloman's seal, comfrey root, witch hazel and rosemary). I chose Safflower oil as a base because it also helps "move the blood" which is an action you want when healing an injury.
This formula is most applicable for bruises and injuries where there is damaged capillaries and or connective tissue. Acute injuries should be past the initial hot swelling stage (first 48 hours or more depending on the severity of the injury). For example, I would ABSOLUTELY use this salve on a lingering tendon injury in the finger, OR 48 hours after rupturing a tendon in your hand. During the first stage of swelling, other herbs like arnica are more appropriate, as well as cold compresses. I would probably put it straight on a minor bruise. DO NOT USE ON OPEN WOUNDS! Comfrey can seal in infection.
True Soloman's seal root (Polygonatum multiflorum) is traditionally used to help rebuild and nourish connective tissues like tendons and ligaments. As a rock climber, I frequently use it topically in tincture form when I've landed on my knee strangely, or preventatively on my fingers (I literally put the tincture in my palms, rub it all over my hands and let it dry). There are concerns about sustainability of wildcrafted herb, so it's best to ensure what you're getting is organically cultivated. You can also easily grow it in your garden, harvest the root every few years, and replant the root eyes.
Comfrey root (Symphytum officinale) is considered to be a cell proliferant and used for broken bones and other tissue injuries.
Frankincense (Boswellia spp.) is used in Chinese medicine for acute swelling and pain. It also moves Qi and blood (which can easily stagnate when there are a lot of damaged tissues and inflammatory compounds around to obstruct proper flow).
Safflower (Carthamus tinctoria) is used in Chinese medicine to strongly move the blood for many scenarios, including sports injuries. It has similar applications to arnica (they are in the same family) but of course they are different herbs and thus do not replace each other entirely.
I added rosemary to stimulate the local circulation (Cayenne or other chili could be subbed here, but it hurts your eyes a lot and can irritate some people's skin), and witch hazel leaf as an astringent to tone and tighten up the damaged tissues.
MAKING THE INFUSED OIL:
Combine the following ingredients in a quart mason jar:
2 oz Soloman's seal root (avoid wildcrafted product please!)
2 oz comfrey root
.8 oz frankincense
.15 oz safflower petals
.2 oz Rosemary leaf
.3 oz Witch hazel leaf
16 (2 cups) oz Safflower oil (like the flower, the oil is a blood mover and also play a medicinal role in this salve)
I like to grind the herbs coarsely to increase surface area and strengthen the extraction. After grinding, pour oil over the herbs in the jar. Fill your crockpot with water, put it on low or warm, and set the mason jar (I do without the lid, though some do put lid loosely on, since all herbs are dried) so that the waterline is about equal to the oil line in the jar. We are trying to avoid any water contact with the contents of the jar, FYI. That causes rancid and moldy oil! Yuck.
You will leave the herbs in the oil and the jar in the water bath for 3 days to a week. You will need to monitor the water level and add more water as it evaporates. I typically do about 4 days, and find pretty good extraction. You want to make sure they don't get to hot in there (ideally not over 120°F).
Strain the oil through a very fine metal sieve or sterile cheesecloth and store in the fridge or in a cool dark place.
MAKING THE SALVE:
1) Measure how much oil you have and use the following ratio to determine how much beeswax you will need.
100ml oil: 13g beeswax
For example, if you came up with 450ml of infused oil, you'll need 58.5 grams of beeswax.
2) Put beeswax and oil into a metal bowl or glass jar you don't care about ruining (some people just designate a bowl or jar as their wax and resin bowl) and heat over a double boil (which is basically a water bath where the jar or bowl is touching the water, and the pot of water is on the stove.) Turn the heat on and heat until melted. I suggest medium to high heat, though careful with bubble on the double boil, as they can be rather explosive.
3) Pour salve into salve containers immediately and don't touch or cap until they have hardened.
4) LABEL IT! and DO NOT USE ON OPEN WOUNDS.