Sunday, November 9, 2008


Sorry for my absence of late. I am in grad school and, well, every now and then, I have to study. AhahahHAHAHAhahahAHAHAHAHA [<--sound of panicky, maniacal cackling] I'm working on a paper. We are to write about significant events on our learning journey, and so far I've discovered that it's hard to separate things in one's life. They are so interwoven. So yeah, it's interesting, but demanding when you've already got a full-time job AND that creative urge that's always tugging at you 24/7.

Enough whining. Now, more whining: I've had two migraines in the past month. I think it's from allergies as well as turning on the heater. I always get them in one certain spot, behind my ear. After several hours, all the muscles around that area hurt like hell, and pain reliever does help a little with the peripheral pain. If I take my (expensive) presciption medication at the earliest signs of migraine, that usually kicks it before it starts. But my problem is, I tend to get them in the middle of the night, while I'm sleeping. So I'm usually stuck with them for either 24 hours or 5 days. That is what the past has taught me.

Well, when Junior got hit by a car, I took him to my acupuncturist, Suzette, and she gave him a little jar of salve. Here in New Mexico, they call pine tar "trementina" and it's used for lots of things, from pulling splinters to purging the flu. The Huichol also combine it with beeswax to create the mixture they use for embedding beaded designs into their bowls and such.

Anyway, Suzette gets a trementina-based herbal salve from a guy in Northern New Mexico. His grandmother used the recipe as a healing salve for arthritis. I know it's got osha root in it, but I don't know what else. I love the way it smells, so when I got my second-to-last migraine I decided to rub some on my neck and shoulders, and even behind my ear where the migraine pain was the worsst. I laid down to take a nap and to my amazement, the migraine was gone when I got up!

Thinking it might have been a coincidence, even though I've never had a migraine last less than 24 hours, I used it again the other morning when I woke up with a horrendously painful, and very local, migraine. Laid down, took and nap, and poof! Migraine gone. Well under the 24-hour limit. Still felt a little cloudy, but no pain.

I can't wait to tell Suzette I found another use for her herbalist's salve. Oh and by the way, some of the very best info on traditional New Mexican remedies comes from Michael Moore, whose little pamphlet on Spanish/English herb names I stumbled upon many years ago, before his books were published. The Southwesst School of Botanical Medicine website contains oodles and oodles of information, including a vast catalog of plant pictures. Check it out!


  1. Mary, I don't want to overwhelm your acupuncturist but is there any chance I could buy a jar or two of the salve? I'd like to try it on my arthritis and I have a dear friend who gets migraines and I'd love to give her a jar to see if it works for her as well as it does for you!

  2. Aw, I will ask her but from what she's told me so far, she doesn't sell it. She buys it in small quantities from the man from up north, and she doesn't really know when she'll see him -- like once a year or so. I'll be seeing her in a couple of weeks and I'll ask though. I do know that in addition to the trementina there is osha root, but I don't know if there are other herbs in there too. I think one of the links in my blog goes to an herb company that sells the trementina and osha is pretty easy to purchase too. But I have no clue how to blend herbs into the trementina since it's not exactly soupy. ;-)

  3. O gosh, I was excited for a moment. My husband also has RA. The first 4 vertebrae a fusing which causes severe headaches sometimes. But thanks for the links. The search is on!!

  4. Carol -- what does RA stand for?

    I never heard of trementina as a pain reliever before so I suspect it is the herbs mixed in with it that are doing something.



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