How to Make a Pain-Relieving Herbal Salve for Migraines

Headache disorders are among the most common nervous system disorders, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. There is nothing worse than an excruciating migraine where the only relief seems to be hiding under a blanket for hours until the throbbing subsides. According to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), as many as 70% of Americans suffer from disabling, chronic headaches severe enough to seek medical attention.

Over-the-counter or prescription painkillers are often the first treatment step for headaches and migraines, but while they are effective at relieving immediate pain, these harsh pharmaceuticals come with a myriad of harmful side-effects. Luckily, there is another way! 


Cannabis salves are always my recommended “gateway product” to medical marijuana — they don’t get you high and people are always amazed at the relief a simple salve can provide. At the first sign of a headache or a migraine, a little bit of salve rubbed on the temples subsides the pain almost immediately. Rubbed on the neck and shoulders, this salve will relieve tension and stress headaches as well — honestly, I rub this stuff anywhere I feel pain and it works wonders. But since I have some friends who are cautious about any cannabis touching their body because they get drug-tested for work, I designed this recipe to be just as pain-relieving without cannabis.

You can make this recipe as simple or as complex as you like. I’ve written the “complex” version, which isn’t any harder to make, it simply has more herbs and essential oils. You can simplify this recipe by only adding essential oils instead of dried herbs, which skips the herbal infusion step and goes straight into melting the oil and beeswax together. Salves may seem intimidating but they really are surprisingly simple to make. Once you make one, it’s hard to stop — there are endless ways to experiment with different herbs and essential oils. Find out what works best for you!herbal-headache-salve-1

What You’ll Need:

20 oz of olive/coconut oil

Equal parts dried herbs (listed below)

20 grams of cannabis flower/trim (flower will provide stronger pain relief)

4 oz of beeswax

A couple drizzles of castor oil

Cheesecloth or Fine Metal Strainer

Jars or containers to store your finished salve (glass jars are recommended)

10-15 drops of essential oil (peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender)

*This recipe filled about 5 1/2 pint jars*

For this tension-melting salve, I utilized a unique mixture of potent herbs, however, it can be customized to fit your situation. Cannabis isn’t even necessary, if you can’t access it, this salve is still very relieving without.

You could even omit all of the herbs and just infuse with essential oils (as many headache salves recommend) but I think the herbal infusion takes this salve to the next level. If you don’t want to use all the herbs, valerian root and willow bark are the two strongest pain-relieving herbs you should prioritize.

I purchased my herbs through a local, organic farm (Sunna Ra Acres) but a great online source is Mountain Rose Herbs.

These herbs are all known for their pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory qualities…

~ 5 grams Willow Bark

~ 5 grams Skull Cap

~ 5 grams Valerian

~ 5 grams Calendula

~ 5 grams Meadowsweet

~ 20 grams Cannabis

The essential oils in this recipe can also be customized to fit your specific situation…

Peppermint — a strong topical analgesic (pain-reliever) with anti-inflammatory properties.

Lavender — great at relieving stress and tension headaches.

Eucalyptus — very cleansing, opens the sinuses, helps with congestion or sinus headaches.

Rosemary — powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities, relieves insomnia and stress, improves circulation.

Start by making the herbal infusion:herbal-headache-salve-23
Measure out 20 ounces of coconut oil or olive oil (I used half of each) and pour into a glass, heat-safe container. Measure out all the herbs (if you want to be precise), or grab a small handful of each and add them to the oil. Place the glass container into a larger pot filled with water to create a double-boiler. Bring the water to a boil, taking care to not to splash any into the herbal mixture. Once your mixture reaches a boil, turn down the heat and continue to simmer for 60-120 minutes. The longer it simmers, the stronger the infusion will be. cannabis-canines-46

Next, using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, separate the oil from the herbs. Squeeze every last drop of precious, infused oil out of those herbs!

The leftover herbs make a great snack for chickens or an addition to your compost pile.


Now that you have your herbal infusion, it’s time to create the salve. Break up your 4 ounces of beeswax into smaller pieces using a knife or cheese grater. I think this amount of beeswax makes the perfect salve consistency, but to make a creamier, softer salve, add less beeswax. Place into a non-stick or ceramic pan on low heat. Add the infused oil, a couple drizzles of castor oil for smoothness, and continue stirring occasionally until the beeswax has melted completely.

Once the beeswax and oil have melted together, it’s time to add the essential oils.

Add about 10-15 drops of essential oil into the mixture and stir to combine.

Finally, get your jars ready and gently pour your beautiful salve.


Place into the fridge to harden, which takes about 10 minutes, and then your salves are ready for use!

With 5 of these jars, you’ll have a year’s supply of migraine salve! They also make great gifts for friends, family, and co-workers.

I hope this herbal salve works as well for you as it does for me, I’d love to hear your thoughts and personalized recipes in the comments below.

Happy healing, my friends!


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