Once you have identified the Black Mustard
and Shepherd's Purse
to be harvested around full bloom, pick the leaves, tops, seeds during mid-morning, shortly after the dew has left. This is the optimum time for harvesting. Knowing racehorse people, mornings are devoted to track work, so optimum time may not be practical. The first step is to make an herbal tincture from these two plants. The fresh Black Mustard is placed in a food processor and chopped. I fully understand that the desired rubefacient ( counter-irritant) qualities of Black Mustard is primarily in the seeds, but I consider the entire herb of value. Next place the chopped herb into an appropriate sized jar with lid for the maceration (soaking) process. Since isopropyl alcohol is cheap and because this herbal preparation will be used topically, I will use the highest strength of isopropyl, I can find. Normally a 70% strength is commonly stocked at most grocery and drug stores. This will do in a pinch. Some Saddlery shops will carry a 95% strength of isopropyl in gallon jugs. This would be the preferred strength to use as a menstruum (solvent) for your chopped herb. Fresh herbs are high in water content and need the higher alcohol strengths to extract the medicinal properties. If dried herbs are being used, a 50% isopropyl solution would be optimum. A 50% isopropyl alcohol solution can be mixed by adding 285 ml (cc) of distilled water to 715 ml (cc) of the stock, store purchased 70% alcohol. Use either the 50% solution, if you are employing dried herbs, or the stronger 95% solution for the fresh plants.
Place the chopped herb into the jar and cover with the appropriate strength of isopropyl alcohol solvent. The herb should just barely be covered by the alcohol menstruum One may have to use a ladle or similar utensil to initially compress the herb below the alcohol level. Check your jar in a few days. You may find the alcoholic menstruum level to be below the herb; if so, add more to keep the level above the herb. Store your jar in a warm, dark place for 2-4 weeks. Daily shaking is not necessary for the fresh herb macerate, but should take place with any dried herb infusions.
Once the 2-4 week maceration time is complete, the exhausted plant material and tincture must be separated by some type of filtration system of your choice. The goal is to produce a smooth grit-free tincture. I heavily rely on antique kitchen utensils that farm wives have used in years past. I use a cone shaped sieve and wood pestle which was empolyed for various canning and juicing chores. This cone sieve or ricer can be found at flea markets, estate farm auctions, and online auctions. I pour the herbal contents of the jar into the cone which has a bowl underneath it. The pestle is then rotated to squeeze the menstruum from the depleted plant material. Once I have the initial tincture in a bowl, I filtrate a second time through a canning funnel which has several layers of cheese cloth, rubber banded around the open end. This should produce a fairly smooth tincture into a wide mouth measuring cup. Pour this final filtrate into a storage bottle of dark amber glass. With the Black Mustard filtered, now do the Shepherd's Purse.
You have the main ingredients of your liniment, the two herbal tinctures. The following components should be gathered:
1) Tincture of Black Mustard.......................................300 cc
2) Tincture of Shepherd's Purse...................................300 cc
3) Camphor...........................................................................1 oz.
4) Ammonia Water..........................................................100 cc
5) Olive oil.........................................................................300 cc
Combine the tinctures, ammonia water, and olive oil and add one ounce of powdered camphor to the solution, shaking. A final filtration may or may not be necessary.
Camphor is obtained from an evergreen type tree found in Asia. It has counter-irritant and analgesic properties. Camphor is an old timey remedy, long used in Veterinary medicine both internally and externally. It can be found in the inventory of many of the old line Saddlery Shops and usually is sold in small blocks. Its presence in this liniment recipe is optional. If you can find camphor, grind up one ounce into fine powder and add to the liniment, shake until dissolved. One can filter any particles that do not go into solution before final bottling.
Ammonia Water is another old staple of many topical liniments of the past. It is simply 9.5%-10.5% of Ammonium Hydroxide in a solution with water. Ammonium Hydroxide according to its strength can act as an epidermal stimulant, irritant, or blister. Store purchased Ammonia will contain normally 5-10% of Ammonium Hydroxide in water with additives which may include perfumes, salts, and stabilizers. I am suggesting that commercial Ammonia can be substituted here in a liniment formula, though an Ammonia cleaner without additives is to be preferred. I would further suggest that commercial Ammonia should be cut in half to give approximately a 5% solution. Pour out 50 cc of Ammonia and add another 50 cc of distilled water-add to the tinctures.
Olive oil comes in many grades. I would suggest the cheapest oil you can find which usually means a golden color from a latter pressing. Olive oil is primarily being used for its lubricant properties in this formula, though it does possess some solvent properties as well.
Herbs can be deleted and added as one may see fit to formulate that liniment that seems to work for your animal. My book will give you the few basic rules which should be followed but, on the whole, creativity can reign with the cost of production small when compared to commercial products. .