Alder Pain Salve

Earlier this last Autumn I made an oil from dried leaves, bark, catkins and twigs of Alder. After reviewing much of the available ethnobotany on this multi-purpose herb I thought it would at least make a nice wound healing salve if not a downright pain relieving one. I also talked to an herbalist from the NW who uses Alder oil extensively in her pain salve, and to another woman in Alaska who uses Alder leaf poultices very successfully in the treatment of her dog’s paw cancer.

So for the last couple months I’ve been using it every chance I got- on Wolf’s fractured toe, on a contusion with popped blood vessels, abundant hard swelling and copious pain, on sore, tight muscles, on general cuts/scratches/wounds and even on a mildly pulled muscle. I have to say it worked great in every situation, speeding healing, reducing swelling and significantly helping with pain. In fact, it worked so well I plan on making it a standard ingredient for all my salves. Studies and traditional use indicate the plant is also powerfully anti-fungal, though I haven’t used it this way yet myself.

As time allows, I will also write some specific case studies for external use of the oil/salve. For now, I will say that specific indications include tension and stuck energy accompanied by acute inflammation and redness. Mixing it with Rose, Cherry or Larrea will further accentuate it’s cooling, tension relieving properties. Combined with Pine, Cottonwood or Goldenrod, it would also be appropriate for slow healing or old injuries.

Yippee, another wonderful use for a truly phenomenal herb!

7 Comments

  1. Susan
    Feb 19, 2008

    Kiva Rose: I’m finally getting to read your blog on a regular basis. Much love to you for your awesome work! Great to hear more about Alder too. We don’t have a lot of Alder in Florida, but I have found a nice unpolluted patch not far from home and will plan to be using some this year. Sounds like it would be great with my Pine gum salve and with Goldenrod, just two of my big favorites.

    Blessings, Susan in Florida

  2. Kiva Rose
    Feb 19, 2008

    Oh thank you so much Susan… I’m so glad you like the blog, and thank you for reading!! Yes, I often combine it with Goldenrod, and sometimes with Pine or sometimes with Cottonwood.

    :) Kiva

  3. Sunshine Goldsberry
    Feb 24, 2008

    Green greetings from Vancouver Island! An interesting use of alder is fresh leaves on the body to release toxins(often done by putting leaves between the bed sheets for sleep time), refreshing the leaves if done for a second night. I was introduced to this concept by a Finnish woman who had suffered skin problems due to being exposed to radioactivity after the Chernobyl accident. She was given this instruction by a healer there (they used some other related plant) but I was amazed to see how her skin cleared up after using the alder technique here on VI. Sunshine

  4. litha
    May 7, 2008

    hi kiva, i’m trying to clarify your alder salve-making process. did you use all parts dried, or just dried leaves and bark? and why dried (or not)? right now the catkins are super fresh, plump, and resinous….. it seems that making a fresh catkin infusion at this time would be ideal. thanks!

  5. Kiva Rose
    May 8, 2008

    Hi litha, I’ve made it with a mix of fresh and dried, as well as just dried. Why? Because it’s what I had on hand at the time and it worked LOL. I think Alder is one of those plants that does remarkably well when dried although it certainly is lovely fresh too.

    What part you use might depend on what you’re doing…. I think the most pain relieving aspects may be in the leaves and bark with the catkins and cones having a stronger concentration of the antibacterial qualities. However, I haven’t isolated the different parts much, I try to get bits of whatever is on the tree then and use it in whatever I’m doing. I have heard of great results just using leaves though.

    Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions.

  6. shamana flora
    Jul 23, 2008

    I got a call from someone this morning with an infected spider bite. I’d usually reccomend topical echiancea and plantain in this case, but the person didn’t have echinacea on hand, but did have fresh plantain and alder leaves. Poulticing with both seems to be helping so far. I’ll let you know how it goes further! have You used alder poultices for topical infections/drawing/insect stings and bites? It was god awful early in the morning, and it kind of jumped out at me as the best solution, without much thought, or brain power.

  7. Dee
    Jul 2, 2010

    Hi Kiva :) I am attempting to make a pain salve from infused Alder bark oil. (it was the only thing i had on hand) I noticed however, although the Alder was sitting in the oil for 6 weeks, it didn’t turn colour and still smells a bit like Olive oil? is this normal? My tincture turned bright orange ( I know the alcohol did this) but I was assuming the oil would atleast smell a bit differently. Or turn a slightly different colour.

    thanks :)
    dee

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