Cayenne Salve…

by guest, Rosalee de la Forêt


One of the reasons why exploring herbalism is so much fun is that it goes beyond book work and theory to become more practical and hands on. Herbalism inspires us to get into our kitchens to make powerful herbal remedies.

Exploring herbs in this hands-on fashion also allows us to use our senses when learning about herbs. One of the most important senses in herbalism is our sense of taste.

There are five categories or tastes in herbal medicine: pungent, salty, sour, bitter and sweet.

Even though this recipe isn’t necessarily about tasting an herb, this recipe explores the qualities of the pungent taste. Pungent herbs are hot and stimulating. They get things moving!


Cayenne salve stimulates blood flow, which can decrease pain. Cayenne also blocks substance P, the neuropeptide that can relay the pain signal. This salve can be used externally on arthritic pain, neuropathic pain and old achy injuries.


The following recipe is part of the upcoming Taste of Herbs Course.

What you’ll need…

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • two heaping teaspoons of cayenne powder (or 15 grams)
  • 1/2 ounce of beeswax
  • double boiler
  • cheesecloth

Begin by infusing the cayenne into the olive oil over a double boiler. I heat the oil and cayenne until it is warm, turn off the heat and let it sit (warmly) for about 20 minutes, then turn the heat on again. I do this for at least one hour to a couple of hours; you could do it for 24 hours if desired.

Once the cayenne and olive oil have been infused, strain off the powder through a cheesecloth. Reserve the infused oil.

Heat the beeswax until it is melted. Stir in the infused oil until the beeswax and oil have been thoroughly melted together and combined.

Immediately pour this mixture into jars or tins (it makes roughly 4 ounces). Let it cool and then label it.


Using your cayenne salve

This cayenne salve can be used on aches and pains, from sore muscles and joints to bruises and even nerve pain. It is best for closed wounds and may sting a bit on open wounds. Even on closed skin you may feel a bit of burning or heat in the area where it is used. It should be applied externally only and used within 6 months for the best results.

If using it for arthritic pain it may take up to a week or two to see results. In this case you want to use it daily to decrease chronic pain.

Caution: When cayenne comes in contact with your mucosal membranes or eyes it will burn! Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching cayenne or use gloves to apply the salve to the desired area. If you are using the cayenne salve on your hands, consider applying it at night and then sleeping with gloves on.

Some people with thin or sensitive skin may find that cayenne salve causes blistering. If this happens, stop use until it heals, then resume using a smaller amount, or remake the salve using less cayenne.


This recipe is an excerpt from the upcoming course, Taste of Herbs. Taste is an amazing way to learn HOW herbs work.

Rosalee created the Taste of Herbs Flavor Wheel to help people learn herbalism using their sense of Taste.

Get the free Taste of Herbs Flavor Wheel here.




***Rosalee de la Forêt is the creator of Taste of Herbs, a new course by LearningHerbs and Mountain Rose Herbs. Rosalee is a clinical herbalist, herbal educator and founder of Herbal Remedies Advice.

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