Defeating Pain

One Person's Battle Against Chronic Pain


Bumps, Bruises, Sprains and Pulled Muscles Salve

Oh the rain in Spain is mainly falling on our Texas plains. Which has been murder for my head, and body, though not nearly as crippling as usual since I found a new way to help combat it (which will be the subject of an upcoming post) and it has seriously slowed down my experiments and research on Licorice, which will be the topic of my next post. So to tied you over I figured I could share a little about myself, and a nice little fix for some general injuries and pain that anybody with or without a pain condition could have. You gotta make sure you take care of those little bumps and bruises so you can handle the big stuff. Plus all those scars and bumps add character.

Cause all I know how to be is like a boss.

Cause all I know how to be is like a boss.

Now, if you don’t already know, I am always a sucker for a sob story, and I am exactly the sort of lady that brings home or rescues any stray or injured animal. I am still being made fun of the baby opossum I rescued, he was just so cute and helpless, I mean look at his widdle face!

Awww lil possum snuggled into my jacket! He was successfully released from the rescue center and will live his lil possum-y life in the wild because I saved him 🙂

Well, maybe that is a face that only a mother and/or a crazy animal lady could love, but I know what I am 🙂 and I am OK with that.

I have a student in the school who injured his shoulder pretty badly (he does other martial arts) and that was sort of what prompted me to write this post, since I had to make more for him to help with the pain. Also since my husband and I have not been able to have kids yet (hopefully), I tend to adopt people to mother that I feel need some extra love. We took in and “adopted” a young gentleman that had suffered some of the cruel shunning practices that are a part of some sects of a certain type of book religion. I couldn’t stand seeing his rejection and “adopted” him, and now he is like a son to me. He was recently injured, his shoulder while playing soccer, and the pain was bothering him and wouldn’t go away. Both him and my husband are soccer players and soccer fans (Come on Arsenal!), which means both end up with bumps, bruises, scrapes, sprains and all sorts of soccer related injuries. We are also very active in martial arts, and while T’ai Ch’i isn’t high impact and not prone to injury, my husband does a harder style and the usual sports injuries occur there too. Though the soccer ones always seem worse…

This was the top google image for “soccer injury,” I don’t think the salve will fix this though….

So I started making salves to help with those issues. I made the first batch fortuitously, since it happened to be right when my “adopted” son had hurt his shoulder and he said that this helped more than using tiger balm, and other things, for reliving pain and helping it heal. It is also great for bruises, sprains, or any injury you get where bruising and swelling is present.

ProMuscleSpasmTip: If you have a muscle spasm that is really giving you sass, use the salve and a lacrosse ball. Rub the salve in well then have a friend rub the spasmed muscle with a lacrosse ball giving firm pressure. If you don’t have a friend put the ball on the wall or ground and use your body weight or your body pressure to press firmly into the complaining muscle.

What do you put in a Pain Salve?

The best thing for bruising and pain is Arnica, so this is one of the first things I grab when I am going to make something to help with bruising. Arnica is also great for alleviating swelling as an anti-inflammatory since it has helenalin. This will also take care of making bruises disappear faster, since no one likes unsightly bruises. Then you have wintergreen, wintergreen is a fantastic natural pain reliever since it has methyl salicylate, and reduces inflammation.

Another ingredient I use is copaiba, as resin or oil though I find oil easier, if you use resin use about teaspoon up to half a tablespoon, and reduce the amount of beeswax by the same amount you add. Another good oil to add is peppermint, which helps to warm and soothe tired muscles, and help alleviate pain as well, with the wintergreen this will be nice and minty spicy, and not good for applications near the eyes.

If the addition of peppermint is too much you can always substitute another oil, recently I used JuvaFlex blend oils, since it I had a bottle lying around I hadn’t been using and it had a lot of oils in it that were great for injuries that I could add in small amounts. It has a lot of stuff  in a carrier oil, things like – fennel, rosemary, Roman chamomile, geranium, blue tansy, and helichrysum. You could add any of these individually but you would want to keep the addition to about 10 drops. Tarragon I add to help numb and ease the pain, and it helps warm and soothe the area as well.

Bumps, Bruises, Sprains & Pulled Muscles Salve

  • 2 ½ tablespoon Coconut oil
  • ½ tablespoon Arnica infused oil
  • 1 tablespoon Beeswax, granulated or grated
  • 10 drops Wintergreen essential oil
  • 10 drops Copaiba essential oil (you could use resin, just use less beeswax)
  • 10 drops Peppermint essential oil
  • 10 drops Tarragon essential oil

Add beeswax and oil to a double boiler (a mason jar set in a pan of water works best I’ve found), and stir well. When thoroughly combined remove from heat, and add essential oils. Pour into two 2 ounce tins, and allow to cool. This has less beeswax, so it will be less solid than the rosacea salve I wrote about last, so it will spread easier and work better for massaging into sore muscles. More like the consistency of Tiger Balm (which if you are not big on the DIY thing is a great pre-made muscle pain salve). Remember, wash your hands after application and don’t touch your eyes or sensitive skin areas with this or it will be unpleasant.

You can modify this as your injury requires, and if you are looking for lots of warmth, you can always add capsaicin in for some extra heat kick. You can use different oils, whatever suits your needs and/or fancy.

Always do a patch test to make sure you don’t have any reactions to the ingredients before applying to large areas of the body. You should always check WebMD for interactions with any medications you might be taking with any ingredients you use, and remember educate yourself and do your own experiments. No one can educate you for you, you have to do it yourself. Remember if you have any doubts what so ever you should always ask a professional!


The Curse of the Celts, Rosacea

My poor long suffering husband, who does so much to care for me, suffers a lot of stress. Stress is a major trigger for rosacea, which he has on his cheeks, and the more stress he has the redder his rosacea gets and sometimes it spreads. Now I don’t think he looks any less handsome, he is just wonderful no matter what, but after suffering from horrendous acne as a teen, I know what it is like to have a face you feel uncomfortable about. So I rolled up my sleeves and decided to make a salve for him to help with this.

Rosacea is a very old and well known skin disorder, nicknamed the “Curse of the Celts” due to a belief it has a higher rate of occurrence in the British Isles, or Northern European descent. My husband being of Black Irish and Welsh descent is unfortunately of the right genetics to inherit this skin issue. Though is is being found that it is more common in other genetic groups but people with fairer skin tend to be more susceptible to it, and the redness shows more. Oh the curse of being pasty white!

An Old Man and his Grandson painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio in about 1490. His rosacea is unmistakably displayed on his nose.

In France, since it was thought to be linked to hard drinking (though now we know it is just a trigger that can worsen symptoms), it was known as “pustule de vin” or “pimples of wine.” Rembrandt had it, and painted his symptoms in great detail.

Rembrandt never left out any details of his skin affliction.

Bill Clinton as well had it and was unable to hide its effects from the camera during his terms. Shakespeare references the skin issue in Henry IV part 1 & 2 and Henry V, and one of my favorite author/poets, the delightfully rude Geoffrey Chaucer, mentions it in the prologue to the Summoners Tale.

A somnour was ther with us in that place,

That hadde a fyr-reed cherubbines face,

For sawcefleem he was, with eyen narwe.

As hoot he was and lecherous as a sparwe,

With called brows blake and piled berd;

Of his visage children were a ferd.

Ther nas quik-silver, litharge ne brimstoon,

Boras, ceruce ne oille of tartre noon,

Ne oynement that woulde clense and byte,

That him might helpen of his whelkes whyte,

Nor of the knobbes sittinge on his chekes.

Wel loved he garleek, oynons and eek lekes,

And for to drinken stron wyn red as blood.

Which describes well the symptoms of rosacea, and blames it on his diet of garlic, onions, leeks, and hard drinking of blood red wine. As well as having too much salt phlegm (sawcefleem) in his constitution, and that nothing available at the time to treat it could reduce the obvious symptoms of the skin condition. Luckily, in modern times we have many more options for treatments and it is much easier to control the symptoms than in the days of Chaucer or Rembrandt.

Rosacea is redness on the face, usually cheeks, chin, around the eyes, and forehead are most affected, but it can go to the chest and other places. It can be just redness of the skin, to pustules, papules, dilation of blood vessels close to the surface of the skin, red & gritty eyes, as well as Rhinophyma which is what causes the enlargement and hardening of the skin on and around the nose. Which as you can imagine doesn’t do a lot for self esteem when you look in the mirror, and if left untreated rosacea can spread and become a real issue.

Now before I get into the salve making for treating this, I thought I would go over a few triggers for rosacea, since while it isn’t physically painful it does stem from mental pain, and like migraines can come from environmental or food triggers. Known rosacea triggers are:

  • Sun exposure – so wear those hats and sunscreen
  • Emotional stress – stress kills, and causes so many issues in the body. Reducing stress, and trying to avoid it when you can is a good way to prevent flare ups. Which if you have a partner that suffers from chronic pain, this may be harder to avoid, try seeking out care giver support groups, or speaking with people that have spouses that suffer. Knowing there are people out there that are going through what you go through helps.
  • Alcohol – this seems to cause the most flare ups from what I have seen, but every person is different. Try to avoid or limit your alcohol intake
  • Weather/Environment – hot, cold, wind, humidity, lack of humidity, all the elements outside (and some inside) can trigger flare ups, so try to avoid too much exposure to extreme weather.
  • Foods – spicy foods, stimulants (coffee, tea, etc.) all of these can cause flare ups they have less of an effect in some cases than others. Try an elimination diet, and see if a specific type of food is causing your flare ups.

How to Treat Rosacea

Now there are some foods though that help with rosacea, number one is probiotics – which I went over in my post about helping with how to care for your gut and issues with lack of pooping. Probiotics we have found to help a lot, and I put them in as much food as I can for him, even his butter. It made a huge difference, he had a bad bout with it where it spread and pustules started to appear, and after we started the probiotic regimen a lot of the pustules reduced in size or disappeared.

You can also use, and guys you will have to get over what it is marketed as used for, yeast infection cream. You want to purchase a cream with 2% or more (preferably 4%) of Miconazole Nitrate. Now I know this seems silly, it is supposed to go on lady parts as it says on the box, so think outside of the box! The level of medication used in most stuff for lady parts is a lot stronger than what you can buy for treating other yeast blooms on the skin. That means the infamous jock itch or athletes foot can be much better battled with this than other over the counter preparations made specifically for those issues. Since it is an anti-fungal, this can also battle ringworm! So many uses for just one over the counter product! Five in one!

You’re flippin’ right Moss!

But we have, in our experiments, found what seems to be the best topical way to treat this, and has had some seriously amazing results. It has improved enough to where he is just taking probiotics and using this salve, and it is difficult to get him to use even an aspirin and he uses the salve everyday without complaint. So must be working right?! Also, since he has very sensitive skin this is a very bespoke salve, but you can adapt it easily for yourself with some of the notes I include below the recipe.

Rosacea Salve

  • 1 ounce Beeswax, grated or pellets
  • 1 ounce Coconut oil (Shea butter or Cocoa butter, something moisturizing)
  • 10 drops Lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops Rosemary essential oil
  • 10 drops Pine essential oil
  • 10 drops of German chamomile essential oil

Melt the beeswax and oil in a double boiler, again I really like the mason jar technique now that I have discovered it since scrubbing this out of bowls is a real pain in the behind, so you can dedicate a mason jar to each salve and prevent cross contamination from a poor scrub job. Once you have the wax and oil sufficiently melted and blended, remove from the heat and add essential oils and stir in well.

This is designed for two 2 ounce tins, and you can modify this to fit any container by using 1 part beeswax to 1 part moisturizer (coconut oil, cocoa butter, or shea butter). You can also use pine resin for this instead of essential oil, but you would want to reduce your beeswax by half and make the rest up with the resin.

Now if you are less sensitive skinned than my dear husband, you can use Roman chamomile, or even Tea Tree oil. We found though for him, Tea Tree is much too drying and causes irritation. Frankincense is also a good option here, but he just doesn’t care for the smell and we found it didn’t do as much for him as the other oils.

Why This Works

The lavender helps to reduce the red, and inflammation, and is great for just generally healing the skin. The rosemary which is also antiseptic, antibacterial, and it has vitamin E which is fantastic for the skin. Pine helps as an anti-everything in fighting fungal and anything else that could be creeping about on the skin as well as providing vitamin A and E which are fantastic for healing scars and skin issues. Pine also provides yet another anti-inflammatory to help calm the skin inflammation. German chamomile is gentle and helps to sooth the skin like the lavender, and is a better anti-inflammatory than the more astringent Roman.

The chamomile and lavender also help to reduce stress, and soothe the mind, which I know he needs with everything he has to go through. I often tell him that I think this is worse for him than for me, since I just have to get through the pain, he is the one that has to watch the person he loves suffer and is helpless to do anything to ease my suffering. So it makes me feel better that I am helping him fight that in some small way. Plus the less noticeable it is the happier he is, and more confident he feels, and what is better than that?

Remember to check for any interactions for these ingredients on WebMD, and always do test patches for any salves or topical preparations to make sure you don’t have and adverse reaction. Reducing stress is important and exercise, diet, and a good nights sleep is all important for keeping stress at bay. Meditative practices too, he has started doing Tai Chi himself and I like to think it helps him. Most importantly, see a dermatologist, self diagnosing can lead to improper treatment we consulted one first to make sure what we thought was rosacea really was that and not something else. So, if you aren’t officially diagnosed, ask a professional!