I live aligned as closely with nature and her cycles as possible, and one of my favourite ways to honour the seasons is by bringing the outside in. During the summer there is an abundance of plants that can be harvested and turned into medicines, foods and magical potions. One of my particular favourites is this simple recipe for homemade balm made with humble plantain. I have seen the results first hand – I have given this balm to one of my poor students who had a really horrible cycling accident and was left with some pretty nasty gashes, and to another who healed his new tattoo without the use of Bepantham! So I thought I’d show you how easy it is to make this homemade balm, using a super ingredient you can literally find on the side of the road!
Plantain – or more specifically, Plantago Major – is a very abundant and hardy perennial weed which grows in many really accessible places so is super easy to find. Once you have identified it, you’ll see it everywhere. Broad leaves grow from a central base with tiny greenish flowers throughout summer. It is one of the first recorded medical herbs – it is astringent (causes the contraction of skin cells and stems bleeding) and vulnerary (wound healing) and can be taken as an infusion to treat urinary problems.
However, the most popular use for this herb is as a homemade balm used topically for insect stings and bites, nettle stings, sunburn and skin conditions like eczema.
- Large handful of plantain leaves (collect them on a dry day to prevent moisture causing your balm to go rancid.
- 250ml of olive oil or carrier oil of your choice
- 45g soy wax (for the vegan version. You could alternatively use beeswax in which case you’ll need less)
- 10 drops of lavender essential oil. (This is optional but it will make your balm smell better!)
Clean your leaves – use a dry cloth rather than washing them in water as again, moisture will make your balm go bad.
Add the leaves and your oil to a blender and mix until it forms a paste.
Pour the paste into a heatproof jar or bowl. Set this inside a saucepan, and pour water in the pan until it comes about halfway up the outside of the jar.
You now need to let the oil infuse with the plantain, so leave it on a low simmer for about two hours.
Use a clean muslin cloth to strain the herbs out of the now very green oil. Return the oil to the cleaned out jar – make sure it is completely dry – and add the wax. Set it back in the pan – you may have to top the water up.
Pour into clean, dry containers of your choice and allow to go cool – it will harden as it does so.
After the wax has melted which should only take a few minutes, add the lavender oil if you are using it.
As long as you have been carefully keeping the moisture out, this should last you for six months.
And there you go folks – a very quick and inexpensive way to make a homemade balm.
You can learn more about seasonal living in my post ‘Cyclical Living – What Does It Mean?’.
(Credit to Christine Iverson for her wonderful book The Hedgerow Apothecary.)