Defeating Pain

One Person's Battle Against Chronic Pain


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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!

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Arnica, a klutz’s best friend

Arnica is a member of the sunflower family, with soft furry leaves that are most likely the origin of its name since arna is lamb in Greek. Only the flowers are used in herbal medicine, and while rare is a large part of local medicine where ever it grows. It is a fairly global phenomenon, growing in the more chilly higher elevations across Europe, Siberia and North America. Used for centuries for topical treatment of bruises, sore muscles, and healing. It is a great anti-inflammatory and analgesic, and personally I use it quite often to treat bruises and sore muscles.

 

photo by lunatik2811

Plus look how happy it looks! 🙂

It is great for after a session of Graston, after some intense exercise, or will even alleviate the irritation of sunburn. Graston sessions tend to produce bruising, and the application of arnica means less time between visits and therefore faster improvements in my mobility or reduction in pain. 

One of the common ways to find arnica is as an oil infusion. You can apply this directly to any painful area, or sore muscles. Any bump or bruise is a good candidate for treatment. As an oil it isn’t easily portable for use on the go or at work, so when I am traveling I carry a spray version of it.

Arnica Bumps & Bruises Spray

  • 2 oz spray bottle
  • witch hazel or rubbing alcohol
  • distilled water
  • 1 tablespoon arnica infusion oil

Put the tablespoon of arnica oil in the spray bottle, fill halfway with witch hazel or rubbing alcohol, and the rest of the way with water. Shake well before using and just spray and rub into sore areas.

If you would like to make your own oil infusion, it is fairly easy.

Arnica Oil Infusion

  • Clean mason jar (of any size)
  • Arnica flowers (enough to fill the jar shaking them down but not packing tightly but leaving about a half inch from the top of the jar)
  • A good quality oil (olive, avacado, jojoba, coconut, etc)
  • A sunny spot
  • citric acid (optional, will help to preserve and extend shelf life)

Fill jar with flowers, leaving gap at top for expansion, and then cover completely with oil. Sit in a sunny spot and everyday turn the jar over once and back then set it back in its spot. It is ready for use in 2-3 days but if you let it sit for six weeks it will be at its most potent.

You can also prepare a good salve for soothing achey muscles or bruises with this recipe, by WellnessMama.

WellnessMama Arnica Salve

Directions: Warm oil in double boiler. Add beeswax and stir until melted. Add Wintergreen Oil in desired amount (warning-wintergreen is very strong!). Pour into desired storage container (we use small tins or little jam jars). Let cool.

Can be used on bruises, sprains, strains, head bumps, etc.

Sometimes if it is a particularly sore or difficult bruise or painful area a tincture works great. You can apply it to a towel for a compress, or directly on a gauze for all day application. You can make a tincture just like you do the oil, except replace the oil with vodka or grain alcohol and store in a cool instead of sunny place. It is also commonly available at herb stores and online in pre-made bottles.

Arnica Tincture for Bumps and Bruises

  • 1 tablespoon arnica tincture
  • 1 pint water (warm but not boiling if you are using a compress)
  • gauze pad or towel

Combine tincture and water and then dip towel in and wring out and apply for a compress, or dip gauze pad into it and wring out and tape to affected area.

Warning! Warning! Warning!

Like all remedies herbal or otherwise, treat this with respect. Arnica should never be taken internally. It is highly toxic, as it contains helenalin, and cause severe issues – liver, heart and kidney issues. No one wants those. Topically if you have sensitive skin it can cause irritation, always do a test patch first to see how you react before using it. Never use on open wounds, or take it internally at all.

Some sites do recommend that you can take homeopathic versions of it internally, since there is no actual molecules of the plant in most preparations they are basically safe. Personally, I do not encourage or endorse any homeopathic remedies, since they are proven through many clinical trials to do no better than a placebo, or contain even a molecule of the herbal item it is claimed to contain. So it is just a bit of a waste of time and your hard earned money.

Remember always do your research, check for interactions on sites like WebMD. If you are ever in doubt, ask a professional!