This recipe has been sponsored by iHerb and Nature’s Way who also provided me with the ingredients to make this warming turmeric and cayenne pain-relief balm for sore muscles. They have a special offer for Garden Therapy readers at the end of this post too!
Yay, it’s spring, the time of year that we’ve all been waiting for! The snow is thawing, the bulbs are starting to poke out of the ground, there’s new growth everywhere, and gardeners are eager and excited to get out there and start getting ready for the next gardening year.
My chiropractor always says that this is his favorite time of the year. Not because he enjoys the warmer weather but because he gets to see all of his gardening clients! Yes I’m one of them, one of those gardeners we gets so excited about spring that I do way too much an end up feeling pretty darn sore and achy at the end of the day. To be totally honest, today is one of those days. My back is aching my wrists are sore even the bottom of my feet hurt. Despite proper stretching, this happens to me pretty regularly throughout gardening season which is part for the course when you have fibromyalgia.
At the end of the day, I will often have a soak in warm water and bath salts to help with the aches. But mid-day I just don’t have the time, so I like to use a topical warming balm for sore muscles.
Topical Pain Relief Using Herbs
Many years ago I picked up a warming balm at a farmers’ market while on vacation. That balm worked like a dream to ease muscle pain and aches. So after I scooped out every last little bit, I headed out to my studio to formulate something that would work as well.
I’ve tried a number of different recipes that contain arnica, ginger, St John’s wort, and peppermint for pain but I have found the most relief for sore muscles in the combination of turmeric and cayenne pepper. The turmeric works to help ease inflammation while the cayenne pepper warms the tissue and combats pain. A winning combination!
Sponsored Content: When I can, I buy my ingredients from local farmers or grow them myself. For the rest, I know I can find trusted brands like Nature’s Way at iHerb.
I was able to order all of the ingredients for this recipe from iHerb and they were delivered to me in Canada and just a few days after ordering. My shipping costs for the order, including customs or brokerage, came to $6.84. That, plus I got super high quality organic, raw, ingredients at lower prices than I can get elsewhere.
For this project I used Nature’s Way organic extra virgin coconut oil as the base, and infused it with dietary supplements rather than spices. The turmeric is premium potency with 95% curcuminods and the cayenne has a consistent potency of 40,000 Scoville heat units.
Turmeric Applied Topically
Turmeric is quite on-trend right now and so you may be aware of its popular anti-inflammatory properties when taken internally. As it is metabolized quickly, it’s recommended that black pepper and fat be added to your body use the constituents. Internally, this would take the form of a yummy Golden Milk Chai. Topically, adding a pinch of black pepper and infusing turmeric and pepper in oil over heat helps to make the most effective balm.
Cayenne Applied Topically
Cayenne may be too spicy for your palette, but it’s famed for its topical pain-relieving powers. Capsaicin is the active ingredient that, when applied to the skin, helps to block the neurotransmitters that are signaling pain. This has shown to be very helpful with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis pain, herpes zoster, shingles, and back pain.
Warming Turmeric and Cayenne Pain-Relief Balm Recipe
In this recipe I’ve combined anti-inflammatory turmeric with pain-relieving cayenne in coconut oil with a pinch of black pepper. Beeswax helps to firm up the balm, and organic cacao butter gives it a nice slip on the skin and leaves the skin moisturized.
Makes 2 x 80g jars of balm
- 125 g Nature’s Way Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- 8 g Nature’s Way Turmeric Powder
- 8 g Nature’s Way Cayenne Powder (15 capsules)
- A pinch (0.25 g) ground black pepper
- 25 g Organic Beeswax Pellets
- 5 g Organic Cacao Butter
- Double boiler
- Kitchen scale
- Pyrex glass measuring cup
- Mesh strainer
- 2 small glass jelly jars with lids
- Rubber gloves
First, go get some gloves. Most of my recipes are for home use so I usually feel confident handling the ingredients with well-washed hands. In this case, the turmeric stains skin and the cayenne can warm it up too much. (I use gloves when making this balm but not when I apply the balm to my skin.)
Weigh all of the ingredients on a kitchen scale.
If you are using the Nature’s Way Cayenne capsules that I linked to in the ingredients, then you can empty 15 capsules for the 8 g.
Infuse the turmeric, cayenne, and black pepper and coconut oil in the top of the double boiler over the lowest heat setting for 1 hour.
Set up a Pyrex glass measuring cup with a mesh strainer and cheesecloth set inside to filter the oil.
Strain the oil through cheesecloth.
Squeeze the cheesecloth to extract all of the goodness.
Now, add the beeswax and cocoa butter to the double boiler and pour in the infused oil. Stir constantly and keep a watchful eye on the oils. You want them to just reach the melting point and not overheat.
When melted, immediately pour the balm into glass jam jars and allow to set untouched for 3-4 hours.
Always spot test home recipes before diving in a covering your whole body with any salve or balm! To spot test, apply a little of this balm to the inside of your arm and wait 24 hours for a reaction.
To use this balm to help with sore muscles, rub a little on the affected areas and massage it in well. Apply as needed up to 4 times each day. Do not apply to open wounds, burned skin, or rashes.
The turmeric will stain your skin, but if you rub it in well, it will just look like a golden glow (as opposed to a spray tan gone wrong!). It does wash off your hands easily with some soap and gentle nail brush, but it will also fade from skin naturally within a few hours.
Turmeric can stain clothing so wear like-coloured clothes when you are using this balm.
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What would you need to add to make this balm into lotion bars?
I am so happy with your balm’s ingredients! I used it with over-the-counter CBD and it’s the best CBD balm I’ve made to date. (Other than CBD, the only change I made to your recipe is 4:1 ratio of oil to beeswax , not 5:1, to make it a bit firmer.) I’d begun experimenting with different over-the-counter CBDs several months ago, since I can’t share my prescription CBD balms and I really want to share the relief they give. I don’t know if it’s the organic turmeric or a kick from the black pepper, but right now my knee, upon which I applied it, is warm and more flexible than even half an hour ago.
Question: How can I get out some of the turmeric? I can’t give this balm away with this much staining. I’d thought about heating it slowly with water, then chilling it and seeing if the water underneath has carried away any of the macaroni-and-cheese-colored stain. My worry is that I might also wind up draining off, and losing benefits from, CBD, cayenne, and black pepper along with those of the turmeric. This balm is ~ 177.5mg CBD/oz. and I don’t want to mess with that ratio. I’d considered making another batch without turmeric and mixing the two so as to cut the turmeric in half – but the CBD was expensive. (It was still 25% less expensive, ounce to ounce, than a mass-produced over-the-counter cream with 10% less CBD.)
Right now, I’m sitting at work with my jeans rolled up to my knees and balm on my knee. I’ll wipe when I need to roll down my jeans to leave my desk; by then more of it will have soaked its lovely warm magic into my joints.
I’d love to hear your suggestion. If by chance you are one who likes the effects of CBD, and you decide to add it to one of your recipes, I’d love to hear your results!
When I give away any of my balms, I suggest putting a thumb nail along the top and pulling your thumb toward you, getting the balm on the back of the thumb nail. “Scooping” one’s fingers into it wastes what winds up under your fingernails.
What essential oils could I add to offset the smell to make it more appealing and less everything bagel bite smell ..
perhaps lavender and lemongrass? Use lemongrass sparingly as it is a hot oil and this is already hot!