By Travis Birch
Our family, including my wife, two teenage sons, my faithful companion Chester, and two to three cats, enjoy trying our hand at living a full life off the grid. Preparing for the unencumbered life. Being self-reliant is a great takeaway, then there is getting back to our roots, doing things our predecessors did. Something I remember seeing on the shelf of my grandparent’s bathroom was liniment. It was homemade, I know this because the Mason jar was reused, it was aged, and most of all everything they used was homemade.
So we started making our own homemade liniment or the sore no more liniment, not as a throwback to my grandparents, but also out of necessity. A liniment is ideal for disinfecting, and for penetrating into your sore and aching muscles. There are a couple of methods to build on. In our house, we like the effectiveness of a base of isopropyl alcohol 70%. It tends to quickly extract the medicinal properties from the plants we infuse it with, and then it evaporates quickly on the skin, leaving us with deep penetrating healing qualities that soothe and relieve sore muscles, and aching bruises.
Important to remember with liniments, they are for external use application only. Do not drink or attempt to use internally. Additionally, this is a project that requires time to steep, so you want to make your next batch when you are halfway through your current batch. I like to allow my batches too steep for at least 14 days, letting them go for up to six weeks if possible.
To get started, use a clean mason jar, with a clean lid that creates an airtight seal. We make several batches at one time. Each batch will be used for a specific target. Next, take your herbs or flowers and make sure that they are clean. Fill your mason jar with the desired herbs, flowers or roots. Use a jar that will allow you to cover and fill the jar with a full 16 ounce bottle of I.P.A. (isopropyl alcohol), Since the batches will be used differently, you can build in a 24 ounce jar, and filter to a 16 ounce jar, then clean and reuse the 24 ounce jar for your next batch at a later date. Apply the lid and let time take its toll on your mixture. As a rule of thumb, this will steep for several weeks, and each person contributes by turning the jar upside down or shaking it every time they pass by it. When you are ready, 2-6 weeks later, filter it through a cheesecloth into a 16-ounce jar that is ready to be filled. Apply to small areas with cotton balls, or to large areas with a washcloth. The cooling sensation from the I.P.A. and the medicinal effect of the plant give your aches and pains the one-two punch they need. Here are some recipes that we use on a regular basis.
To relieve muscle pain and soreness, as well as addressing joint pains. Use peppermint, chickweed and Comfrey, leaves and roots. Soak with 16 ounces of I.P.A.
To help ease pain from ear infections, hemorrhoids and external bruising of the skin, combine Arnica and Mullein, the leaves, flowers, and roots with 16 ounces of I.P.A.
Plantain, the seeds, and leaves are a great source to comfort you from insect bites, and small cuts and topical abrasions. Steep in 16 ounces of I.P.A.
White willow bark is an excellent treatment for headaches and similar ailments such as back pain and conditions that create inflammation. Build this with 16 ounces of I.P.A.
Research some effect local flowers and herbs that are indigenous to your area and try out some liniments for your family. Intensify the liniment with cooling effects by adding essential mint oils, or turn up the heat by adding pepper or cinnamon oils, essential oils. If you find that the I.P.A. is drying out your skin, substitute witch hazel. Keep in mind these are intended to be used for minor aches and pains. If you feel that your pains can’t be controlled with these remedies, get to a doctor for more advanced treatments.