Salve Making Day: Balm of Gilead

in #naturalmedicine6 years ago

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Antiviral Salve with Infused Oils of Cottonwood and Saint John's Wort

I learned to make this wonderful salve from local green witch, Julie Charette Nunn (http://www.crowsdaughter.com/green-witch-school/). It is a favorite at home and also with my friends, and is so easy to make. The secret to success is to pick the Cottonwood Buds and Saint John's Wort flowers at their peak, which seems to require a bit of luck and good timing.

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Luck was with me one bright sunny cold day in February while cross country skiing at Cabin Creek near Snoqualmie Pass. A recent storm had fallen a beautiful cottonwood tree on the side of the trail and all her still unopened buds were close to the ground where I could pick trouble free for the better part of an hour. My sidekick was asleep in the pulka as I counted my blessings and thanked the earth for such a wonderful and unexpected gift of medicine. The tiny buds were found just at that perfect moment before opening when squeezing yields bursts of sticky red resin that smells like an intoxicating mixture of honeycomb, flowers and comfort. The sun had softened them perfectly. Upon returning home I placed the buds in a quart mason jar and topped off with organic olive oil and a breathable lid. The batch I used today was from 2016.

For the Saint John's Wort I am lucky enough that my grandma has a large field that grows glorious amounts of Saint John's Wort. We walked together in the late summer morning before the heat of the day to pick these flowers at just their perfect point of ripeness. Again, I was looking for a bright red sticky resinous liquid upon squeezing the buds just before opening. I picked whole sprays of flowers (most half open) to process later after letting them wilt in the sun to remove some water content. Also, I like to sit and pick the flowers off the branches in a more leisurely way at home, rather than out in the heat of summer. Once the flowers were picked off I placed them in a pint jar and covered with organic olive oil and a breathable lid. The batch I used today again was from 2016.

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Making the Salve

Today I made two different batches because I wanted a smaller batch with essential oil of Lemon Balm to have stronger antiviral properties, and one larger batch without so the smells from the wildcrafted buds would predominate. The basic recipe is 1 cup infused oil to 1 oz beeswax.

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For the first batch, I melted 1 oz of beeswax in a double boiler then added 1/2 cup of each infused oil. Once all was melted, I took it off the burner and added 30 drops of essential oil of Lemon Balm and poured into clean 2 oz glass jars. This made about 4 and 2/3 jars worth.

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For the second batch, I melted 2 oz of beeswax in a double boiler then added 1/2 cup of infused oil of Saint John's Wort and 1-1/2 cups of infused oil of Cottonwood Buds. When melted I took it off the burner and poured into waiting 2 oz glass jars. This made about 9.5 jars worth.

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Notes

  1. I used jars with metal lids because I have had trouble with plastic lids cracking and breaking. Also, I detest plastic.
  2. The half empty jars are just fine, because those are the ones I keep for me, and the rest go out as gifts.
  3. The Cottonwood Bud oil is preservative so no need for vitamin E in this recipe.
  4. Please pick responsibly and be 100% sure of your plant ID before using for food or medicine.
  5. I am a home herbalist and none of what I write should be construed as medical advice.

More Information on the Preparations

These salves are incredibly versatile with anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antiviral properties. They can be used topically for a range of skin problems including dry skin, sunburn, minor scratches, bug bites, burns, bumps and bruises. The lemon balm was added to make a stronger salve for herpes and shingles outbreaks. These salves are not meant for treatment of open wounds.

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Thanks so much for the heads up. Cool contest.

Herbalists are starting to grow Balm of Gilead locally here. It's good to have a recipe

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It set up just perfect. I am a big believer in the 1 oz beeswax to 1 cup infused olive oil ratio.

It's a ratio I'll use when I give it a go. Thanks

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This sounds amazing @belleamie. I have always been interested in herbalism. I had planned to have a garden when we bought our house a few years back. The only herb I could get to grow was basil LOL. Our area is surrounded with various types of lavender and sage and can't seem to keep up with it. We're a high desert community. 4600 ft we often exceed 100 in the summer, but winter is usually as low as the teens. It's not like gardening in Missouri or California. Missouri I could take a sprig of lemon balm stick in the ground and within a month the area would be covered.
I'll work something out eventually.

You were featured for week 38 of @pifc's Pay It Forward Curation Contest by @porters.

Thanks so much for the comment. I really love this salve. The herbs for it though are wildcrafted and not something I grow at home in an herb garden. Sounds like you live in a difficult growing area, but I am sure if you work with what you have there will be a way to grow herbs compatible with your ecosystem. Is wind an issue? I wonder if you could plant some screening trees for shade and wind breaks and then work from there. Please excuse if my unsolicited advice was unwanted. I love your user name. A couple years ago I was part of a group that planted a three sisters garden in the shape of a tryskele. New Year's blessings to you.

Also, I have upcoming posts planned on making evergreen lip balm and some kombucha/fermentation info. I hope you'll follow me.

awesome post!!!!!!!! we love making balm of gilead around here too! :) thank you :)

Oh my goodness, that's great! Are these available on the Co-op?

Not a vender...yet. I'll think about submitting an application.

Love your combinations here plus the extra tip about the Cottonwood buds not needing a preservative.
Definitely going to add this to my list of preparations.
Thanks for sharing!

I'm so happy to pass along tips that were shared with me. Glad we connected.


Congratulations! Your post has been recommended by @nateonsteemit to be the Global Homestead Collective's promoted post of the day. We invite you to use our tag #ghsc! Come join us on discord!

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Oh, that is just wonderful. Thank you to @nateonesteemit and thanks @ghsc. I'll be trying out your tag on my upcoming post on converting my Kombucha scoby to Jun (honey and green tea).

Wonderful! I look forward to seeing it!

Love the smile on your helper. :))

These are a really lovely color. Very nice post!

I was quite pleased with the color as well. It cooled to a wonderful vermilion. And yes, my helper has the best smile ever.

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