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Saturday, May 10, 2014

rapha salve mix, and instructions for making healing herbal salves


Rapha Salve is a staple in our household. There are similar salves available on the market, and I've seen similar recipes or formulas for homemade herbal salves. I like to make my own, partly so that I always know what goes into it and partly because I like getting into it with my hands. I like the connectedness I feel to nature, to God's creation that He made for us to know and name and use for our benefit.

This salve is pretty simple to make. It contains several hard herbs, so I recommend you follow my instructions for making a herbal heat-infused oil, here. As you can see in the above pic, I mix up a large quantity of the blend to store in my apothecary, and then infuse oils as needed. I get orders from time to time from mama friends, doulas, family members, and I often gift this salve to expectant mothers and dear ones because Rapha is so brilliantly useful everywhere, including baby's diaper rash and postpartum mama's healing needs "down under" or C-section incisions.

Rapha Salve is antiseptic, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and mildly analgesic. It cleans wounds, helps close cuts against bleeding, and helps to prevent the formation of scar tissue. It soothes bruising and soreness, and is wonderful for healing rashes, contact dermatitis, insect bites, and burns, whether from fire or the sun.

Echinacea speeds white blood cells to the wounded area for faster healing. Rosemary, or lavender if desired, is antiseptic and antibiotic. Lavender is soothing and healing to burned skin. Comfrey is the knitting herb, helping to prevent scarring and knit tissues back together. Plantain is especially soothing to all topical irritations, rashes, and insect bites, and numbs pain. Yarrow flower slows bleeding and cleans wounds.

When my son was about 1 1/2 years old, he caught a bee and got his first sting. I'm sure you can imagine the shocked cries that ensued. After removing the stinger, I quickly dunked his swelling finger into a tub of Rapha to coat the area liberally, and watched the swelling shrink back to normal within mere minutes. By the time 5 minutes had passed, there was barely any trace of the hurt on his little hand and he promptly forgot about it as it didn't hurt anymore.

I gifted my grandfather with a little pot of Rapha a couple of years ago. He reported a while later, after having undergone a minor surgery, that he faithfully used my salve on the wound and had no scar. He was able to show me a few months later, and it was indeed quite difficult to see where the incision had been, which healing for an elderly man is even more remarkable than that of a young child. Children bounce back and regenerate more quickly.

My mother used Rapha on her dog, after the poor sweet animal was attacked and got a nasty tooth cut on her head and ear. Happy healed quickly and seemed to like the salve.

We keep Rapha Salve everywhere. I carry a little 1 ounce tin of the stuff in the mini emergency kit we keep in the toddler bag (diaper bag, except he's out of diapers ;) ), a large pot in the household emergency kit in the cupboard, plus 4 ounce tins in the guest bathroom and in the kitchen cupboard next to my essential oils. Made and stored properly, a herbal salve will last 3 years at strength, possibly longer, so it is not at all foolish to make a decent amount at one time.


Rapha Salve

Infuse a good quality organic olive oil, or other clear oil, with the following mix of dried herbs by weight. If you measure by volume, you will produce a very different ratio of herbs than I have formulated here.

(I don't recommend using coconut oil as your base as its melting point will yield a too-hard salve in winter and a too-soft salve in summer. I have had success with up to 25% coconut oil, but a liquid oil is by far most successful for me.)

Use 1 ounce weight of mixed herbs per pint jar, top with oil, and carry on with the instructions for infused oils.

measure dried herbs by weight, not volume:
2 parts echinacea purpurea tops
1 part echinacea purpurea root
1/2 part rosemary, or lavender flowers**
4 parts comfrey leaf
4 parts plantain leaf
3 parts yarrow
flower

Once the infused oil is strained and ready, place 8 fluid ounces of oil in a glass jar or pyrex jug along with 1 ounce weight of beeswax pastilles. Place that into a pot of warm water on the stove, and heat gently until the wax is melted through. Stir with clean wood, not metal or plastic. This ratio of beeswax to liquid oil yields a soft, reliable texture that is easy to spread over tender wounds. You may melt down over a very gentle heat and add more beeswax if you find you prefer a harder texture.

Add 1 drop each of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) and vitamin E oil for each fluid ounce of melted salve you now have, if you did not already add them to the herbal infused oil. These are not vital, but do help preserve the salve for shelf longevity.

Pour hot liquid carefully into prepared, spotlessly clean and dry BPA-free plastic tubs or aluminum-free salve tins. Let cool, and store.

Be sure to label the bottom of each tub of salve, as well as the lid, so that you never forget what the salve is in case lids become muddled. Also include on your label the date, at the very least, as well as ingredients and properties (antiseptic, etc) if you think you might forget or if you are gifting the salve to someone else.

Store in a cool place where melting is not a concern. Use common sense and practice clean fingertips when dunking into the salve often.

**We use rosemary in our household Rapha salves. However, I do love the extra anti-inflammatory properties of lavender, so for those who are not mildly allergic to it like my husband, you may prefer lavender. It does also add a wonderfully pleasing, gentle scent.


3 comments:

  1. Wait! I've been assuming all the time you talk about Rapha salve that rapha is an ingredient in it! What IS rapha then?

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  2. Grace, Hello! "Rapha" means "healer" in Hebrew. Just the name I gave the salve because it is so well rounded -- basically an all-purpose homemade herbal antiseptic and antibiotic salve, great for many complaints. Read through the article for a fuller explanation of why each herb is included. I've given this salve away, and sold it, to many people locally, and I always get positive reports back. A doula friend of mine has several times bought a large batch of 30 or more 1 oz tins of Rapha, that she gives to her clients for postpartum healing. I've given the recipe to several friends that live further afield so they can make their own, too, and then decided to just publish online. Herbs are amazing things for everyone to enjoy!

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  3. Entertaining. I always wondered what this rapha ingredient could be, since I'd never heard of it. I saw you posted this the other week, and thought I should find out what the extra ingredient was so I could add it into my next batch of green salve (infusing at the moment.)
    Well, I guess I'll just carry on with the standard ingredients. :-)

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