Bare Bones Balm

As light levels continue to drop and gorgeous misty rain becomes more of a feature on the uplands and moorland habitats that we all enjoy so much at this time of year – offering views unparalleled on crisp winter mornings, but also bringing a certain level of dampness. The temptation can be to keep our houses hermetically sealed when in fact there is much to gain by throwing open windows and doors – even for 10 mins, to clear the air and freshen our living space. It is hardly surprising that little niggles like aching joints and weary bones can become more noticeable. However, rather than letting chronic joint pain become life restricting we can help by keeping moving – gentle exercise like swimming and walking combined with some good old fashioned self care. 


A little topical application with the wonderful wintergreen (Gaultheria procumberis) can help. The leaves contain methyl salicylate making them a good base ingredient for a warming, soothing and pain relieving joint and bone balm. They also contain magnesium and potassium in an oil readily absorbed by the skin. In this instance – a simple balm used to keep our joints and minor musculoskeletal ailments pain free. In an acute case, we can always follow the native American tradition of crushing the leaves and directly applying to joints as a poultice. As Wintergreen contains methyl salicylate it has also been used to calm sensitive nerve endings by temporarily overriding nearby pain signals.

Olive oil (Olea europaea) infused with both dried wintergreen leaves and cayenne pepper is used here to create a non-penetrating barrier, whilst lubricating, purifying and warming painful areas to stimulate healing blood flow. Cocoa butter (Theobroma cacao) moisturizes, whilst the Shea butter (Vitellaria paradoxa) absorbs slowly and lends itself to an indulging joint massage The Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is added predominantly for its benefit to circulation whilst the fragrance provides an olfactory grounding note. Sweet Orange oil uplifts by reminding us of sunshine and gentle Mediterranean heat. 

Our hands and fingers work hard every day and need to be strong and flexible to manage all the daily tasks that we don’t even think about. It makes sense to massage them regularly and it is something that we can do ourselves. Taking a few minutes out to gently massage in some of the Bare Bones Balm, either during the day or before bed in the evening will help loosen up the joints and also ease tension to support general relaxation. Even this simple process can aid circulation, disperse metabolic waste and restore blood flow.  


4 tbsp infused olive oil with 1tbsp cayenne pepper and 1 handful of dried wintergreen leaves

1 tbsp grated beeswax or ½ tbsp candelilla wax pearls1 tbsp cocoa butter

1 tbsp shea butter

6 drops vitamin e oil

5 drops of rosemary and 5 drops of sweet orange oil  

4x 15g containers 


Infuse the dried wintergreen oil and cayenne pepper

Using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder – combine the dried leaves and cayenne pepper into a powder. This powder should be heated gently with the olive oil in a double boiler until hot to the touch, but not boiling. The mix should then be allowed to cool naturally before reheating gently once again. Ideally this process should continue a few times over a couple of days to get the maximum extraction. The oil infusion should be strained through fine mesh or muslin into a sterilized jar ready for the next step. 

Make the base balm

Add the infused oil to the three chosen fats in a double boiler, heat gently and stir until combined.

Add the essential oils and preservative 

Have the containers ready with the lids off. Add the essential oils and vitamin e to the base salve and pour into the containers. Be aware that the volatile oils will evaporate, so it is important to get the lids relatively quickly. Label and leave to cool completely. 

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