Flexible Formulation for Herbal Cold Sore Remedies


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This week we’re sharing a formula for an herbal cold sore remedy – a soft salve or balm that can be applied right on the sores. It’s going to serve as a jumping-off point for discussing flexible formulation. That’s the answer to the question “what can I do if I don’t have one – or any! – of the herbs in the formula as written?” If you can answer this question, you’ll be much more adaptable when you run out of herbs or when you’re away from your home apothecary.

We start out with the formula we published in our book Herbal Medicine for Beginners, then we break it down from the perspective of herbal actions. After identifying the herbs that contribute vulnerary, antimicrobial, lymphatic, and nervine actions to the remedy, we can come up with substitutions that would fill similar roles.

Here’s the formula as we presented it in our book, for comparison:
Cold Sore Balm
Makes 5 ounces (about a 3-month supply)This gentle salve is very soothing to irritated cold sores, and helps reduce inflammation while making your body’s environment less hospitable to the virus.

  • 1 fluid ounce calendula-infused oil
  • 1 fluid ounce plantain-infused oil
  • ½ fluid ounce self-heal-infused oil
  • ½ fluid ounce chamomile-infused oil
  • ½ fluid ounce st john’s wort-infused oil
  • ½ fluid ounce thyme-infused oil
  • 1 ounce beeswax, plus more as needed

1. Combine the oils in a pot and warm them over low heat.

2. Add the beeswax and stir continuously until it melts.

3. Spoon some of the melted oil & wax into a shotglass and place it in the freezer for a few minutes; it will set to its finished hardness. Take it out and test it with your finger to see if it is the consistency you want.

4. Add more wax if you want to harden your salve; add more oil if you want to soften it.

5. Pour into a short, wide-mouth jar (or fill lip balm tubes), then cover and allow to cool/set.

6. Apply liberally to the affected area, 3 to 5 times daily.
Herbs discussed include: calendula, plantain, chamomile, thyme, self-heal, st john’s wort, lemon balm, common bugle, red clover, pine, damiana, violet, goldenrod, oregano, rosemary, lavender.

Mentioned in this episode:

We hope you find this flexible formulation approach helpful when you’re making your own herbal cold sore remedies! If you’d like to learn more about resolving skin problems, check out our Integumentary (Skin) Health course – it covers acne, eczema, psoriasis, various infections, and lots more. The course is delivered by video in our interactive learning platform, and you get access to weekly Q&A sessions with Ryn & Katja.

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Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.

This episode was sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs. We thank them for their support!

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