Ah, Spring. Busting my rear end to clean up from winter’s mess and sitting back to admire my handiwork – OUCH. It’s really pretty, now – OOOH.
Although I warm up before doing any heavy work outside, I’ll admit that I’m a desk jockey most of the time and end up with sore muscles, bruises, cuts, scrapes, (you name it) when gardening. Hauling large bags of soil and mulch isn’t something I regularly do and I usually pay the price.
When we built the house, we installed a whirlpool bathtub knowing that as we aged, it would come in handy. At least that’s what I thought. It’s large enough that my 6’4″ husband can stretch out his legs but I have a problem – it’s so large I float! This sort of negates me being able to take advantage of the water massage. So, when I come in from outdoors, I take a hot shower with a massaging showerhead and then after toweling off, liberally rub in my favorite sore muscle cream. It has peppermint and rosemary in it and while it’s relaxing my muscles, smells heavenly. Many people find capsaicin cream (made with cayenne peppers) helpful as well. Other herbs that are good for muscle strains are cinnamon, pine, white willow and comfrey.
If I’ve got bruises, arnica cream does the trick there, as long as there aren’t any scrapes or cuts in the immediate area (don’t use arnica on broken skin). I have friends who swear that if you put arnica cream on immediately upon bumping yourself that a bruise won’t even form. Unfortunately for me, I usually don’t realize I’ve got a bruise until I look down & see one. But the arnica helps the bruise heal faster and is also good for strained muscles. (I just like the smell of peppermint & rosemary better!)
Gardening is also hard on my hands. I wear gloves when doing the heavy work like hauling soil or mulch, or running the tiller but when I’m actually playing in the dirt, there’s nothing like the feel of the seed or plant between my fingers. The good ‘ol Georgia red clay is very drying, not to mention all the scrapes I get from brambles, rose thorns, etc.
One of my instructors swore by calendula ointment on his hands after gardening. It made sense – calendula heals wounds rapidly. I just don’t like the somewhat greasy feel of ointment so I make a calendula cream, using chamomile hydrosol. Chamomile is soothing to dry & chapped skin. Rose hydrosol is good for the same thing.
To make your own cream, pick which herb(s) you want to use and steep 4/5 ounce (by weight) of dried herb in 8 fluid ounces of your chosen oil for 10 days, shaking it at least once a day. (I use olive oil because it has skin-soothing properties, too.) Be sure to “crunch” your herbs a bit to open their pores and make it easy for the oil to extract the good stuff. Strain well and pour into a non-aluminum pan. Heat over low heat and melt 1/2 ounce beeswax into your oil – you’ll find the beeswax melts faster if you grate it, first.
Once the beeswax is fully melted, remove your pan from the heat and allow to start cooling. When you see a line of wax starting to form around the rim, pour your oil/wax mixture into a blender. (Be sure to put the blender top on!) Set your blender on high and slowly add one cup of hydrosol or water. You’ll have to stop the blender and scrape often. It’s messy.
Water and oil don’t like to mix so it will take some serious blending. After about 10 minutes, you should have a thick cream. To make a lotion, add in more hydrosol or water until it’s to the desired consistency.
This recipe has no preservatives in it so if you’re not going to use it all up within a couple of weeks, store in the refrigerator. You may see the water & oil separating a bit as there is no emulsifier in the recipe, either. Just shake or stir it well before use.
Completely off topic: April 11-17 is National Library Week. I’m a bookworm and book collector and love libraries. Both my daughter and son-in-law are librarians so I’d like to give them a huge virtual hug!
Fully armed with various healing creams, I’m off to the garden again!