DIY topical pain relievers

These recipes are good for arthritis, rheumatism, joint and muscle pains, back aches, and sprains. They should not be used on broken skin.

Hot pepper pain relief ointment

The active component in hot peppers that gives them their heat is called capsaicin, and the hotter the pepper, the higher the level of capsaicin there is. While rubbing something that seems flaming hot onto your sore joints doesn’t initially seem like it would help arthritis, capsaicin cream is a common OTC pain reliever. Why? Capsaicin depletes a neurotransmitter called substance P, which is responsible for sending pain signals to our brain. If we block substance P, we never get the memo that something is hurting, and therefore end up pain-free.

hot pepper cream


  • 3 tbs of cayenne powder (or 1 tbs of habanero for extra strength)
  • 1 cup of grapeseed, almond, olive, or jojoba oil
  • ½ cup of grated beeswax (or candelilla wax for a vegan alternative)


  • The oil and wax can be replaced with coconut oil if you prefer – use 1½ cup.
  • 1 tsp arrowroot can be added to reduce the oily finish if preferred


  1. Mix together the hot pepper powder with the oil, and heat in a double boiler for 5-10 minutes over medium heat. (If using coconut oil be sure not to heat, just warm enough to make it liquid)
  2. Stir in a 1/2 cup of grated beeswax and continue to stir until it has melted completely and everything is blended together. (If using coconut oil skip the beeswax and add arrowroot)
  3. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, and then whisk together. Chill for another 10-15 and then whip again before putting it in a glass jar with a tightly fitting lid and storing in the refrigerator. It will keep for about 1 ½ weeks.
  4. Apply as needed for pain.

Note: When you use your cream, really take the time to gently massage it into each aching joint. The little bit of stimulation helps get your circulation pumping and circulates blood through your joints. This gets much-needed oxygen and nutrients to them, which is especially good for osteoarthritis. It is normal for there to be somewhat of a burning sensation when first applied. Use with caution if you have sensitive skin, and discontinue use if irritation occurs. Don’t forget to wear gloves when handling super spicy stuff (like the habanero) and stop using if it causes too much irritation.

Anti-inflammatory ointment

This cream includes the notable anti-inflammatories and pain reducers turmeric and ginger, as well as cayenne.
cayenne ginger tumeric salve


  • 3 cups of grapeseed oil, or any other oil like almond, jojoba, or olive
  • 3 tablespoons of ground cayenne
  • 1/2 cup of beeswax (or candelilla wax for a vegan alternative)
  • 3 tablespoons of turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons of ground ginger
  • Directions

    1. Mix together 3 tablespoons of ground cayenne, 3 tablespoons of turmeric, and 2 tablespoons of ground ginger.
    2. Add this to 3 cups of grapeseed oil in a double boiler and stir until mixed thoroughly.
    3. Warm over medium heat for 5-10 minutes and then add in 1/2 cup of beeswax. Stir until the beeswax has melted completely and everything is blended together.
    4. Remove from heat and chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes take it out and whisk it together and then refrigerate for another 10, blending it once more at the end. Keep in a glass jar with a tightly fitting lid in the refrigerator, where it will keep for 1 ½ weeks.
    5. Apply as needed for pain, rub in as much as you can and then let it dry before rinsing off. The turmeric will really stain.

    Ginger poultice bandage

    This poultice combines the healing properties of ginger, garlic, and salt. The ginger will provide pain relieving heat as well. For intense pain, the poultice can be left on the skin until the hot sensation is gone.

    ginger poultice bandage


    • a handful of ginger root
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • 2 tbs salt


    1. Crush all the ingredients with a pestle and mortar. Pound the ginger, then add the garlic and salt.
    2. Apply the mixture to affected area.
    3. Wrap with a bandage. (you can wrap in plastic film first to keep the mixture moist if you intend to leave it for some time)

    (source, source, source)


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