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Herbal Liniments

Simple to make, herbal liniments are a great element for any home medicine cabinet!  They offer relief for occasional pain, muscles, bruises, and sprains.

Depending on which botanicals are included, liniments can be used to disinfect cuts and wounds, and may benefit a variety of conditions including sore muscles, joints, circulation problems, sprains, strains, and bruises.

Liniments may also be formulated to warm or cool.  Warming herbs like Black Pepper, Cayenne, or Ginger can be added to stimulate blood circulation and assist with arthritis, pain, stiffness, and conditions aggravated by exertion or cold weather.  Cooling herbs like Peppermint or Menthol crystals are useful for swelling, and areas that are hot due to sprains, bruises, and other injuries.

Basic Herbal Liniment

This recipe provides the basic guidelines for making herbal liniments and is completely customizable.


• Rubbing Alcohol or other menstruum of choice.   *See note below.

• Fresh or dried herbs. Popular choices are: Arnica, Black Pepper, Calendula, Cayenne, Chamomile, Comfrey, Echinacea, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Goldenseal, Lavender, Myrrh, Oregano, Oregon Grape root, Peppermint, Rosemary, St. John’s Wort, Thyme, and Yarrow.

• Optional additions: Menthol crystals and/or essential oil(s) of choice.

1.  Place herbs in a clean glass jar. If using fresh herbs, chop them first.  Cover thoroughly with rubbing alcohol or other menstruum of choice, and cap with a tight-fitting lid. Place the jar in a warm area and shake daily or as often as possible.

2.  After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs out using cheesecloth.  If desired, add Menthol crystals (they will dissolve in alcohol) and/or essential oil(s).  Pour the liniment into dark glass bottles.   Make sure to label the liniment for “External Use Only”.

3.  When properly stored in a cool dark place, the liniment will keep almost indefinitely.  To use: gently rub onto skin and allow to evaporate.  Be careful not to rub too hard or vigorously as this can cause irritation.

*Note: Rubbing alcohol is typically used to make liniments because it extracts the therapeutic herbal constituents, rapidly penetrates and evaporates from the skin, and is an all-purpose antiseptic and disinfectant.  You could also use Vodka, Witch Hazel Extract, or Vinegar as a solvent.  Basically, you’ll need a menstruum to extract the properties of the herbs which will absorb quickly and deeply to penetrate skin.  If alcohol alone is too harsh or drying on your skin, try mixing it with Witch Hazel Extract or Vinegar until you find a medium that works for you.


Kloss Liniment

Available in Rosemary Gladstar’s book Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide, this very old and strong recipe was first published by the famous herbalist Dr. Jethro Kloss in his classic book Back to Eden in 1939. Kloss's liniment is useful for reducing occasional sore muscles, cleansing wounds, and soothing insect bites.  Instead of Goldenseal, you can also substitute Chaparral or Oregon Grape Root.  According to Rosemary Gladstar, who has been using this recipe for over 30 years, this is one of the finest disinfectant remedies available.  In her own words: "Quite truthfully, you shouldn't be without it."


• 1 ounce Echinacea powder

• 1 ounce organically grown Goldenseal powder (may substitute Chaparral or Oregon Grape Root)

• 1 ounce Myrrh powder

• ¼ ounce Cayenne powder

• 1 pint Rubbing Alcohol

1. Place the powder in a jar and cover with rubbing alcohol (a food-grade alcohol can be used, but rubbing alcohol seems to work best), leaving a good 2-inch margin above the herbs. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Place the mixture in a warm location and let it sit for 4 weeks.

2. Strain and rebottle. Label the bottle clearly for “External Use Only”.

3. To use, apply directly on wounds or moisten a cotton ball with liniment and swab the infected area. Repeat as often as needed until the infection goes away.

For more information, watch our video on making herbal liniments:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDVzYK96l4Y

Step by step recipe and instructions for making Kloss’s Liniment from LearningHerbs.com: http://www.learningherbs.com/news_issue_13.html


Topics: Natural Body Care Products, New In The Shop


Written by Irene on September 20, 2012

Irene, Customer Experience Director, supervises the daily operations of all our customer-facing activities at Mountain Rose Herbs. She also serves on the board of directors for Eugene-based nonprofit Cascadia Wildlands, protecting our precious outdoors. When she isn’t ensuring your experience aligns with the goals and mission of our company, she can be found taking care of her adorable twin boys, crafting her own line of body care products, and even harvesting wild plants and gardening.