An old-fashioned and all but forgotten remedy using elder leaves (Sambucus nigra). This balm can be used for bruises, sprains, strains and tired muscles. From a recipe adapted from 'Elder and Comfrey balm' from our new book 'The Handmade Apothecary'
Elder balm soothes and relieves bruises effectively, and we like to think of it as one of the 'British Arnica's' along with daisies (Bellis perennis) and dandelion flowers(Taraxacum officinale)(click for links). Make a super charged bruise balm with all three added!
- 200mls oil (olive, sunflower etc.)
- 20g shea butter or cocoa butter
- 20g beeswax
- Handful dried elder leaves
- jars with lids
In a small heatproof bowl place the leaves, oil and shea butter.
Bain-marie style, suspend the bowl over a saucepan of water on a low heat for 3-4 hours, keep a constant eye on the water level and top up to prevent the pan going dry. The oil will gradually turn a deep, rich green.
Strain the oil mixture through a sieve lined with muslin and discard the leaves (you can repeat this step again using fresh plant material in the same oil for a double concentrated balm).
Return the strained oil to the bowl and place over the pan again on a low heat. Add the beeswax. and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Allow to cool slightly but not set. You can now add essential oils to scent the remedy if you like (up to 30 drops; lavender is a good option for its pain relieving properties).
Pour the mixture into a jar, allow to cool, put lid on and label.
Vegan option: Alternatively you can infuse the elder in pure coconut oil which will naturally set when cooled, no beeswax needed!
External use only. Apply as needed to affected area.
Tip: test your balm by dropping a little on a cold plate and setting in the fridge for a few minutes. If you prefer a harder balm, add more beeswax.