The Natural Way

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

With chilly weather, bordering on cold, body aches and pains will increase. Neither the young nor the old will completely miss this right of passage into and through winter. Our bodies are just like our cars, they need to be warmed up longer to get that oil and lubrication moving around when it gets colder outside. Sometimes, the ache from long-standing muscle and joint injury just gets worse even with the proper warm-up.

In the old days, just a few words like "rheumatis," "arthuritis" or just plain "old age" described the crackles and groans which came up on a brisk fall morning. What hasn't changed much from the old days is the rub-on balms that smell so strongly and help ease the cold right out of the body. These are liniments, creams, balms and oils.

Some of the oldest liniments were used on horses, as well as on granny. Horse liniments are still useful today, though the smell of kerosene or vinegar may not appeal to the modern nose. The simplest liniment was made with vinegar brought to a boil, taken off the heat and then cayenne pepper added. When it had cooled down this would be rubbed vigorously onto a sore body part.

Most of the creams and balms sold today rely on menthol (which is pricey) to give the impression of either heat or cold. The sensation on the skin can be so intense, telling whether it is hot or cold is tough to do. That is why you'll find menthol in products labeled "heat" as well as those called "arctic freeze." These work by causing so many skin nerves to send signals to the brain, you temporarily forget about the ache or pain. These can also have a range of ingredients added such as MSM, Emu Oil, Aloe Vera, Boswellin and Cetyl Miristoleate (from plant source). Many have colorings added to make them blue.

Many natural oils not only cause a sensation of heat but also improve blood flow to the sore part. Some of these are true oregano, wintergreen, cayenne, clove, eucalyptus, rosemary and peppermint oils. You can make these yourself with essential oils and almond or even canola oil.

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