MOTHER readers send in their best tips.
A decade ago, due to budget constraints as well as a natural penchant for wanting to be self-sufficient and thrifty, I started searching for some inexpensive, easily made herbal therapies. The primary recipe whose effectiveness has stood the test of time is my herbal liniment. We use it most often for sore muscles and any kind of cut or skin eruption. It also works for athlete's foot. Apply frequently, saturating the affected area thoroughly. (If dripped on clothing, it's yellow color usually washes out.) The liniment can be kept in the refrigerator to be used as a cold poultice for withdrawing heat from an inflamed area. Just saturate a clean, soft cloth and apply frequently. For a hot poultice, soak a cloth with liniment, put it in a bowl, and microwave for one minute. Apply often, to relax spasms from sore muscles and joints.
I have heard that this liniment is helpful for
arthritis. Also, one friend told me that it's the only
thing that brings her son relief from fire ant bites, to
which he is highly allergic. Evidently, it works better
than his prescription medication.
My most dramatic personal experiment was with sore throats and mouth sores. Let me say at the outset, this stuff tastes vile! For small mouth sores or toothaches, you can dab it on with a cotton swab or rub it on, but for sore throats, what really works best is the tough-minded approach. Pour a tablespoon or so in your mouth and swish it around the affected area and spit it out. I could not believe how fast it works.
A word of caution: do not swallow the liniment! It contains rubbing alcohol and is not to be ingested. And don't get it in your eyes.
The recipe couldn't be simpler.
1 oz. powdered myrrh (an excellent astringent)
1/2 oz. powdered goldenseal (has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties)
1/4 oz. cayenne pepper (powerful stimulant and astringent)
1 pint rubbing alcohol
Mix together and let stand seven days. Shake well every day. You can strain the liniment through damp cheesecloth if you don't like the gritty feel of ground herbs. If you leave the herbs in, it gets even stronger. If you don't have goldenseal, make the liniment without it.
Check around for the prices of herbs. I found one place that was charging $179 a pound for goldenseal! In such a case, I would definitely make it without this herb, or else put in just a fraction of an ounce. At today's prices (1999), it should cost about $2 to $3 to make a pint of the liniment, if you buy alcohol when it is 35 cents a pint.
I put a label on mine that lists the ingredients and the following suggestions: "Good for all pains, swellings, bruises, skin eruptions of all kinds. If possible, apply every few minutes for an hour or two. Useful for headaches. Apply to temples, back of heck, and forehead. For sore throat, gargle with -a small amount and spit out. Do not swallow. For toothache or mouth sores, rub on or use cotton swab. Apply frequently to athlete's foot. Do riot get in eyes."