I am always trying to learn more about natural approaches to wellness. I enjoy the connection to the environment as well as the sense of accomplishment when I concoct a solution to an ailment in my own kitchen or garden. Lately, I’ve been dealing with some irksome pain, and trying to moderate my use of those harsh oral pharmaceuticals with all of their troubling side effects. I’ve learned that there are so many options available for topical pain relief. Arnica, aloe, menthol, eucalyptus, and willow bark, for example, are all wonderful additions to the herbal medicine chest, and very helpful. Last week, however, my doctor recommended trying a capsaicin rub for persistent neurological pain. Our discussion jogged a distant memory about neurotransmitter function, the role of the mysteriously-named Substance P in pain sensation, and the unusual effects of capsaicin on the sensory system.
In a nutshell, Substance P delivers the message to your central nervous system that you are in pain. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot peppers, blocks Substance P from being made. No messenger…no message delivered. The cause of the pain is not affected, just the feeling. So capsaicin acts as an analgesic, without the nasty side effects of a lot of the prescription drugs that are recommended for chronic pain. Capsaicin balms and rubs are available over-the-counter. But some have ingredients to which I am sensitive. And all of them are darn expensive.
Thank goodness I have a kitchen!
I was so excited by the aroma and color on the next morning that I forgot to take a picture. But I did pour the whole thing into a mesh strainer to catch the spent peppers. The extract could certainly be used at this point as a muscle rub (isn’t that easy?) but I know I tend to get a little clumsy when I am in pain. Oil would guarantee a mess, and probably some unintended discomfort if I splashed it anyplace sensitive. So I took another step.
Then, because I wanted to make sure that the balm was really, really powerful, I decided to add a few aggressive shakes of cayenne powder to the mix. I brought the pot to a simmer again, to make sure all the essential oils of the cayenne were released. Then I cooled just slightly to handle.
I had to work somewhat quickly, because the vegetable wax hardens as it cools. I’m sure there’s another use for the lees and the muslim bag, but, encrusted as it all was with spicy wax, I just tossed them into the compost.
I haven’t used enough of the homemade capsaicin balm to know if it will help me stay off some of the pharmeceuticals. But I can tell you that it definitely feels warm and wonderful directly on sore muscles!
Do you have any home remedies that you rely on? Feel free to share your recipes!2 Like This