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You Can Make This Chili Oil Balm for Effective Muscle and Joint Pain Relief

At some point in your life, you’ve likely experienced physical discomfort in the form of sore muscles, joint pain, or even both at the same time. Muscle aches can be caused by many things, including stress, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes, dehydration, and even increased physical activity. So while working out is certainly great for your overall health, it’s natural to experience muscle soreness from time to time, especially as you try new workouts.

Meanwhile, joint pain also has many different root causes, with one of the most common being arthritis. According to the CDC, more than a quarter of Americans are currently struggling with arthritis to some degree.

For immediate relief, many people turn to drugstore staples like tiger balm, and while it may provide that beloved cooling heat thanks to its wintergreen, menthol, and camphor ingredients, it also includes unhealthy crude oil-derived components like paraffin and petroleum.

Camphor oil can definitely be effective for muscle soreness, but nowadays it is typically chemically manufactured from turpentine oil, rather than from the bark of the camphor tree. And to make things worse, tiger balm also contains a slew of unnatural ingredients such as propyl hydroxybenzoate, which is actually another name for propylparaben. This highly dangerous skin care ingredient receives a scary score of “7” from the Environmental Working Group.

But the good news is that there are plenty of natural remedies for arthritis and muscle aches.

Essential oils have seemingly countless benefits and have been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of health conditions. And, of course, aches and pains definitely fit into that group. I love essential oils because they’re all natural, highly effective and also really affordable. And when it comes to treating pain, one of the best essential oils available is chili oil. Not only is it a natural analgesic, but it also helps to decrease inflammation while improving circulation—the perfect one-two punch when you have a sore body.

So why is the spicy chili pepper and its oil such an effective natural painkiller? The main reason is capsaicin, an active compound in chili peppers that gives them their heat, whether eaten or used topically. Capsaicin is actually able to decrease the intensity of pain signals in the body by decreasing the levels of a neurotransmitter called substance P, which is responsible for sending pain messages to the brain. In fact, a 2010 German study showed that joint pain decreased by about 50 percent in patients who used a cream containing capsaicin.

Want to get those pain-relieving tiger balm effects—minus the dangers of parabens and other harmful additives? I have the perfect DIY recipe.

Instead of ingredients derived from crude oil, this balm has a moisturizing base of coconut oil, olive oil, and beeswax. And in addition to the essential oil of chili seeds, this recipe includes several other oils that are well known for their abilities to reduce pain and inflammation. Wintergreen essential oil is excellent at reducing swelling and irritation that occurs around painful muscle, tissue, and joints, while cassia essential oil contains an active compound called cinnamaldehyde that is able to inhibit inflammation.

This balm is a much healthier alternative to tiger balm, and it yields a more pleasant, milder scent than the drugstore stuff. Just make sure to use it sparingly, especially at first, as it is very potent. The heat effect from chili oil’s capsaicin is real, and when you first begin using it, you may feel a slight burning sensation. However, this should decrease with repeated use.

DIY Chili Oil Balm

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup grated beeswax
  • 25 drops chili seed essential oil
  • 20 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 10 drops wintergreen essential oil
  • 8 drops cassia essential oil
  • 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Directions:

  1. Place a saucepan with 2 inches of water over medium low heat.
  2. Pour all oils (except essential oils) into a glass jar.
  3. Place the jar in a saucepan and allow contents to melt. Stir to combine.
  4. Once combined, allow to cool slightly and then add in essential oils. Mix well.
  5. Pour mixture into metal tins or glass storage container and allow to set.

Store the chili balm in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place. You can use it as needed up to three times per day. If irritation occurs, reduce frequency of use or decrease the quantity of essential oils used in your next batch of pain-relieving balm. Best when used within 6 months of creation.

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Dr. Josh Axe
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Dr. Josh Axe

Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine. Dr. Axe is the author of Eat Dirt and Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine , and he's also the founder of www.DrAxe.com , one of the world's top natural health sites that draws more than 11 million visitors each month.
Dr. Josh Axe
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