Right now I would like to introduce you to a Chinese herbal salve called “Zi Tsao Gao” or “Purple Grass Salve.” You can make it at home all by yourself.
Efficacy: This is most effective for muscle and joint aches, sprains, headaches,insect bites, itchiness, and hand dermatitis. It is also useful in helping wounds with broken skin heal well.
Just rub the ointment onto your skin. Its pain relieving properties will work quickly to reduce aches, swelling, and other discomfort that irritates the body.
There are seven Chinese Herbs in this salve:
1.Zi Cao: English: Redroot Gromwell
2.Dang Gui: English: Chinese Angelica
Latin: Angelica sinensis
You want Dang gui wei (tail) 20g
3.Da Huang: English: Drug Rhubarb, Medicinal Rhubarb
Latin: Rheum officinale
4.Bai Zhi: English: Baizhi Angelica
Latin: Angelica dahurica
5.Ru Xiang: English: Frankincense
Latin: Resina olibani
6.Mo Yao: English: Myrrh
7.Di Gu Pi: English:Chinese Wolfberry Root-bark
Latin:Lycium barbarum L.or Lycium chinense
Menthol crystals, approx 20-30 grams, are a very common additional ingredient.
Adding this will make the salve feel cool, help the medicine penetrate through your skin and give it a menthol aroma. You will have to ask a pharmacist if they have any behind the counter. With 1-2 days notice many pharmacists should be able to order a container in for you. Xenex Laboratories Inc. from Coquitlam BC is manufacturer.
You can copy the names for all the Chinese herbs then bring it to a Chinese medicine store. Try to go to a store that understands Mandarin Chinese, for there are many varieties of Zi Cao/Gromwell, the most common being a tea making variety. The kind you require are deep purple, long, dried leaves, occasionally still attached to their roots.
a med or large, heavy bottom pot
candy thermometer. You will not be able to use this for candy ever again.
large sieve with fine holes, if you don’t blend your herbs fine.
cheesecloth, 1 package (usually 274 X 91cm) and a metal colander if you do blend your herbs.
A glass 1L measuring cup for adding the beeswax to the hot oil-herb mix. Glass is easiest to remove beeswax from
small jars, approx 125cc or less, with a lid. Or metal salve containers. In sufficient quantity to hold approx 200mL, in total, of salve.
Recommended: a powerful blender I.e. Vitamix with the grain canister. Alternatively, a large mortar and pestle, or a heavy rolling pin, or a hammer and sturdy bag. You could try rolling over the herbs with your truck but I don’t know how clean they’ll be!
Recommended: simple surgical face mask or painter’s/carpenters mask: this can be very effective for avoiding irritation from menthol fumes, and even fumes from the main mix. Especially useful if you have some left over supplies from the H1N1 overreaction.
1.Try to cut the herbs into small pieces ( I used my powerful Vitamix blender). If you cannot that is ok. Break them by hand, or use a mortar and pestle, or pound them with a hammer, or roll them with a heavy rolling pin. Many Chinese leaves the herbs whole. More active ingredients can be leeched from the herbs when they are in smaller pieces.
2.Place all the herbs in a large pot and cover with oil. Let stand for 24-48 hours. You may also try to blend this mix with your regular blender once they’ve been softened in the oil. Put just small quantities in your blender at a time.
3.Slowly heat oil and herbs and maintain at 140-160° Celsius for 30 minutes. You will need a candy thermometer for this. Turn on your overhead fan and ask people with sensitive noses/asthma/breathing problems to stay far away.
4.While heating the oil, you may want to preheat the glass measuring cup. Don’t get any water inside it for the oil-wax mix may not solidify properly with water added in. A stove, toaster oven or even sitting it in a hot water bath will do it.
5.Strain the oil from the herbs while hot. You can get the purest oil, with the least amount of herbal residue, when you use cheesecloth.
Put your metal colander in a slightly larger pot. Line the colander with at least 8 layers of cheesecloth (fold the cloth).
pour the mix through the colander into the pot. You can then press the herbs with a spoon to extract as much oil as possible.
For non crushed herbs simply use your large strainer as it is. Place it over a slightly larger pot or the dry measuring cup and pour the mix into it.
6.Pour your purified oil into your hot measuring cup, if it’s not already in it. Add the beeswax and stir until the wax is completely melted. Your mix needs to be 80-100° Celsius.
I find the mix sometimes cools down too much I.e. the wax won’t melt completely. Then I need to use a double boiler to heat it up enough again. I put the measuring cup in a slightly larger pot of boiling water, making sure water doesn’t get into my oil-wax mix, and stir until all the beeswax is incorporated. You don’t have to check the heat at this stage unless you really want to. If it melts, it’s hot enough!
Beeswax is difficult to remove from things. Soap will not work, only very hot water can melt it enough. Try to use just one spoon and your glass measuring cup from this point on.
7.Add the menthol. Be careful not to inhale the fumes from the hot mix as it is an irritant to eyes and mucous membranes.
8.Pour the mix, here is where a measuring cup is very useful, into your waiting clean, dry, heat proof containers. Spatula out as much as you can. This way you won’t have to try to melt/scrape it off your cup later whole cleaning.
9.Let cool. It should be a lovely deep purple or burgundy color. The type of oil will affect the end color.
If you find that the cooled salve is too hard, make changes to your recipe. Add 50mL more oil or only 14-15g beeswax next time. I haven’t tried remelting the salve and adding more oil, though this is theoretically possible.
Prohibited for pregnant woman.
Keep away from fire in using it and avoid heat.
Keep it in a cool and dry place.
The high quality Chinese Herbal Patchs/ Chinese Herbal Sprays/ Ointments are available at the Dharmazen online store: http://www.damazen.com/cargo/index.html