How to Make a Lotion for Leg Cramps & Growing Pains
Naturally soothe leg cramps, growing pains, and restless legs with this DIY herb-infused magnesium lotion recipe.
This lotion recipe first came about as a solution to the growing pains my kids develop from time to time.
My son had been experiencing some back pain during a growth spurt (he was 13 and already 5’10”) and my daughter had nightly leg cramps, so our naturopath suggested magnesium oil. It worked wonders on them after only a few applications! (They routinely take supplemental magnesium too.)
However, magnesium oil can be a skin irritant and they both have ultra-sensitive skin, so I wanted to cushion the magnesium oil in a skin soothing lotion or cream containing aloe. I infused oil with arnica, which is helpful for inflammation and joint pain, and comfrey, which can be used to treat sprains, strains, and other sore muscle woes, then rounded out the recipe with a little bit of lavender essential oil, for relaxation, and peppermint essential oil, which is also good for muscle pain. (Plus it makes it smell good!)
So, that’s the story behind the recipe, now let’s get into how you can make it!
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You can find all of the ingredients to make this lotion at Mountain Rose Herbs except for the magnesium oil. I buy that from my local health food store, but some brands to look for online include Ancient Minerals and Life-flo, both of which I’ve personally used in this recipe with good success.
Don’t have time to make your own magnesium lotion?
Check out the Magnesium Lotion Shop – they sell a lovely all-natural magnesium lotion, handcrafted in small batches.
Their lotion was created by Mike and Tiffany (from the Don’t Waste the Crumbs blog) when she was struggling with restless leg syndrome after the birth of their second child. Thanks to their carefully crafted formula, she was finally able to get a good night’s sleep! (Check out their 75+ stellar reviews while you’re there!)
Lotion for Leg Cramps, Growing Pains & Restless Legs
This recipe is made with beeswax, using the old-fashioned cold cream method, instead of an emulsifier. It creates a thick lotion, or thin cream, depending on how you label your lotions and creams. If you’d prefer using a recipe with emulsifying wax instead of beeswax, please visit my Dandelion Magnesium Lotion recipe or my Stress Relief Lotion recipe.
- 3 oz (85 g) Arnica & Comfrey Infused Oil (see below)
- 1/2 oz (14 g) Beeswax
- 1/2 oz (14 g) Stearic Acid (a natural thickener)
- 1.5 oz (42 g) Shea or Mango Butter
- 1.5 oz (42 g) Magnesium Oil
- 1.5 oz (42 g) Aloe Vera Gel
- optional: 2 tsp (8 g) Arrowroot Powder (to cut oily feel)
- 3 to 4 drops each of Peppermint & Lavender Essential Oils
- Nature-Derived Preservative (see tips section below)
First, you’ll need to make some arnica and comfrey infused oil. (Or, you can buy ready made arnica oil at Mountain Rose Herbs that will work perfectly in this recipe.)
How to Make the Arnica & Comfrey Infused Oil:
To make arnica and comfrey infused oil, add about 2 tablespoons dried arnica flowers and 2 tablespoons dried comfrey root or leaves in a pint jar. You could also add other herbs that may help aches and pains, such as dandelion and goldenrod. Cover with around six ounces of sunflower, apricot kernel, olive, or your favorite type of carrier oil, until it reaches almost to the top.
The type of oil you use will affect the final lotion/cream:
- Sunflower oil soothes damaged skin, or those with eczema, but absorbs in a little slower than apricot kernel.
- Apricot kernel soaks into your skin quickly and is helpful for dry itchy skin types.
- Olive oil is a classic oil for infusions, but has a heavier feel on your skin, so your lotion might take longer to soak in.
Stir and set the jar down into a saucepan containing a few inches of water, to form a makeshift double boiler. Heat the pan over lowish heat for two to three hours, keeping an eye on the water so it doesn’t evaporate out. Don’t let the oil get too hot or you will deep fry your herbs and ruin the batch!
Alternatively, instead of heating, you can cap the jar of herbs and oil and let it infuse at room temperature for 4 to 6 weeks before using. After sufficient time has passed, strain the finished oil into a clean, dry jar. Shelf life for the oil is about one year, or until it starts smelling off or rancid.
How to Make the Lotion:
Now that the oil is infused, we can proceed with the recipe:
Place the herbal infused oil, beeswax, and stearic acid into a heat proof bowl or pyrex measuring cup.
Set the cup down into a saucepan that has a few inches of water in it. Place the pan over a medium low burner until the beeswax has melted.
Turn off the heat and stir in the shea or mango butter until melted. (Sometimes, shea butter gets grainy if it overheats, so this step can help with that.) Take the pan off of the burner.
Remove the measuring cup from the pan and set it aside until it cools to around body temperature and develops a light layer on top, where it’s starting to set up, but is still liquid underneath. (See the photo above.)
While the wax mixture is cooling, measure and combine the magnesium oil and aloe vera gel in a separate heat proof jar. Set the jar down into the pan of hot water you used to melt the beeswax for several minutes, to warm it up some. (Remember, the pan should be off of the burner at this point.)
Once your melted oil/wax/shea mixture and magnesium oil/aloe mixture are both around 95 to 100 degrees F, then you’re ready to mix!
Slowly drizzle the magnesium/aloe mixture into the oil while beating with a hand mixer. After about five minutes, stop, add the arrowroot powder (optional, will help cut down on any oily feel that beeswax-based lotions can leave), any essential oils you want to use, and the preservative of choice, then scrape down the sides.
Continue beating another three to five minutes, as the lotion thickens and cools.
When you lift the beaters, you’ll see a very brief imprint where they were, before it sinks quickly back into itself. (See photo above.)
The lotion will be thin at this point, so now’s the time to pour it into any container that you want to keep it in. After it sets up, it will be more like a thick lotion or thin cream. (You can experiment with more liquid and/or less stearic acid in the recipe if you want an even thinner lotion.)
Tips for Making:
Never store lotions or creams containing water-based ingredients (aloe and magnesium oil are both water-based) in metal tins or they could rust or discolor the lotion.
Homemade lotions and creams are a lot more perishable than store-bought. If you don’t add a preservative, make small batches, store in the refrigerator and use this recipe up within a week.
To extend shelf life, add a nature-derived preservative. My current favorite is a combination of 4% Leucidal SF Max, a preservative naturally derived from lactobacillus ferment, plus 2% AMTicide Coconut, for natural mold protection.
To calculate the amount of preservative needed, add up the weight of the ingredients in a recipe by grams, then multiply by the recommended percentage. The total weight of this recipe is 247 grams x 4% (0.04) suggested rate of Leucidal SF Max = 9.9 grams. For AMTicide Coconut it would be 247 grams x 2% (0.02) suggested rate = 4.9 grams, which could be rounded up to 5 grams.
For an even longer shelf life, you could use 2.5 g of Optiphen Plus instead. It’s paraben-free and formaldehyde-free, though not considered strictly natural, but your lotion would still be 99% natural if you use it.
(You can learn even more about using natural preservative options in my Handmade Lotions & Creams Course. Students also receive a 20% discount to Formulator Sample Shop – a great place to buy all of the preservatives mentioned above!)
To Use Magnesium Lotion:
Rub a small amount on legs, feet or back before bedtime and at other times during the day, if needed.
Chronic leg cramps can be a sign of other problems too, so if they don’t improve, get yourself checked out by your health care provider.
Did you enjoy this post on making a natural lotion for leg cramps and growing pains? If so, let’s keep in touch!
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