Topical uses of Herbs to relieve Pain and Inflammation
People often wonder if putting herbal salves and lotions on your skin actually get into your system—they do. If you would like to prove the theory, peel a garlic clove and tape it to your foot overnight. You will wake the next morning with the strong smell and taste of garlic in your mouth. For this reason, I highly recommend using organic ingredients that don’t contain artificial fragrances whenever possible. Many over-the-counter topicals found in conventional markets contain mineral oil and other petroleum-based products. These block out pores and are counter-productive to healing. Our skin is the largest organ of elimination; ideally, we want to avoid things that block that process.
Natural medicines such as herbs and essential oils can vary quite a bit so I also recommend buying herbs from a company that specializes in herbs. Unlike laboratory-made medicine, the efficacy of herbs varies depending on where they are grown, soil and weather conditions, and when they are picked. A local health food store will be able to guide you toward the best companies.
There are two herbs that I always have on hand at my massage therapy practice—CBD oil and arnica oil. CBD oil, in a carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut oil, is very helpful in my massage practice. The medicinal use of hemp and cannabis for pain relief dates back over 5,000 years in Central Asia and China. These products fall into two categories: the ones that have THC, the psychoactive chemical in Cannabis, and CBD, the non-psychoactive chemical. Both have therapeutic value. CBD by itself is an anti-inflammatory herb and helps relieve pain when worked into the system by massage.
Arnica—whether used as an oil or cream—is another standby that has proven itself effective for the treatment of sore muscles as well as injury recover. It has great anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to be effective in treating carpal tunnel, sports injuries and exercise soreness. Arnica oil is very potent and needs to be diluted in a carrier oil or in a homeopathic dilution. Both arnica and CBD are counter indicated (should not be used) on open sores or wounds.
Marc Malin is a Licensed Massage Therapist and owner of Sound Touch. He also teaches Massage and Holistic Health at the University of San Diego. For more information, call 505-469-0759 or visit MarcSoundTouch.com.
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