A liniment heats the skin and underlying muscles and joints to relieve pain. The base of a liniment may be either rubbing alcohol or an edible alcohol such as vodka. If you do use rubbing alcohol, remember that it is toxic to drink, so label it accordingly. Alcohol is cooling and quickly evaporates, leaving no oily residue. Occasionally, though, a person will prefer using a vegetable oil base, making the liniment more like a concentrated massage oil. Oil heats up faster and will stay on the skin longer, making it better for massages.
Essential oils such as cinnamon, peppermint, and clove give a liniment its heating action. All skin-heating preparations, including Tiger Balm and White Flower Oil, contain peppermint and/or camphor, which stimulate both hot and cold reactions in nerve endings in the skin. The brain registers these sensations at the same time. The contrast between the two messages makes a liniment seem much hotter than it really is.
The most effective liniments also contain muscle-relaxing and inflammation-reducing essential oils such as rosemary, marjoram, and lavender. They penetrate into the skin to work directly on the muscle.
For arthritis, rheumatism, and other inflammatory conditions, use chamomile, marjoram, birch, and ginger in a massage oil. These same oils can also be added to a pain-relieving bath. For arthritic hands or feet, try a daily hand or foot bath.
Essential oils for joint pain: birch, chamomile, clove, cypress, fir, ginger, juniper berry, marjoram, peppermint, rosemary
Essential oils for heating liniments: cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, peppermint
To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:
- Aromatherapy: Here you will learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
- Essential Oils Profiles: We have collected profiles of dozens of plants that are used to produce essential oils. On these pages, you will learn the properties and preparations for the most popular essential oils.
- How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
- Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
- Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.
Kathi Keville is director of the American Herb Association and editor of the American Herb Association Quarterly newsletter. A writer, photographer, consultant, and teacher specializing in aromatherapy and herbs for over 25 years, she has written several books, including Aromatherapy: The Complete Guide to the Healing Art and Pocket Guide to Aromatherapy, and has written over 150 articles for such magazines as New Age Journal, The Herb Companion, and New Herbal Remedies.This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.