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Sore Muscles, Bruises, Aches and Pains

Sore Muscles



An alcohol extract of two common flowers makes one of the very best topical first-aid treatments I know for bumps, bruises and strains (oh, my!).  And it's cheap, too. 

If you've ever seen a chrysanthemum or marigold, you've virtually seen a Calendula flower. Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is an annual, like a marigold, with a nice, dense orange or yellow flower about the size and shape of a 'Mum. Calendula is simple to grow from seed available anywhere. If you live in the northern part of the US, you might want to start the plants inside in March. Once outside, they are hardy with no special requirements. Ours grew everywhere, in sun or shade, in downpour or drought. 

Hypericum (Hypericum perforatum) is also called St. John's Wort. It is a wild "weed" that you may get in your garden whether or not you expected it. The flowers are small, yellow things attached to a rather leggy, almost tree-like branching plant about one or two feet tall. Hypericum grows even in really lousy soil, like most good weeds do.  It is also perennial, so once you get some your investment is pretty much complete. I've not seen Hypericum seeds for sale; perhaps you will locate some.  In our case, you might say that the plant located us, and we had St. John's Wort by our front steps. 

The only additional ingredient you require is alcohol as a solvent. Since you are making a liniment to put on the skin, it might be possible to use a rubbing alcohol, but I do not recommend it. Isopropyl and all rubbing alcohols are POISONOUS. We opted to use brandy instead, just in case someone accidentally thought the tincture was to be taken internally. When we first made this, our kids were very little and naturally, we took no chances. (Not that we'd let them swig brandy at will, either!) 

Brandy is about 30 to 40% alcohol, strong enough to extract the goodness of the flowers and to act as a preservative as well. (Gin and rum work, too. Yesh indeedy.)  We simply picked perhaps half a cup of flowers, tossed them into a glass pitcher, and added enough brandy to float them.  After about a week, we'd strain off the flowers and pour the solution into dropper bottles (sold at most drugstores). We chose to refrigerate our final product for maximum shelf life.  We had some keep for years that way.

Whenever we pulled a muscle, stubbed a toe, bumped a corner, had a fall, or suffered any sports-type injury, out came the "Hyper-Cal" mixture.  (Any serious injury, of course, requires more than just a couple of applied herbs.  Get all appropriate health care necessary.) I distinctly recall really hitting my leg against a piece of furniture so hard that I was certain I'd have a huge bruise the next day.  I applied Hypericum-Calendula liniment twice that day, and there was no sign of a bruise the next day... or any day after that. Klutz that I sometimes am, I have seen this stuff work over and over again. There was also one time when I whapped myself, not all that hard, and decided not to use the Hyper-Cal liniment. I had a bruise the next day. Seein' is believin.'

It is hard to beat natural medicine from your own garden! 

By the way, the homeopathic remedy Arnica (which is also made from a flower) is very helpful for sore muscles. So is taking a lot of vitamin C.


Copyright  C  2007 and prior years Andrew W. Saul. 


Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )


Andrew W. Saul


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