Coconut oil makes a great carrier or base oil for a muscle rub. With a few simple ingredients you can make a liniment or a salve which can ease tired muscles or aching joints. It can also double/triple as a massage oil or, depending on the type of essential oils you use, as a vapor rub that can clear congestion in the chest much like the traditional Vicks vapor rub (great for flu season).

Coconut oil is known as a carrier oil which means it is derived from the fatty part of the coconut, the flesh. This benefits the skin as is but when mixed with other ingredients, like concentrated essential oils, it makes the product safer to apply on the skin. Essential oils by their very nature are highly concentrated and it is not often wise to apply them directly to the skin as they may cause irritation, hence the need for a carrier oil.

Coconut Oil Plus Your Favorite Essential Oils

The basic idea for a muscle rub is to mix a carrier oil such as coconut oil with one or two essential oils.

Essential oils have their own properties and benefits to the body.

In the case of a muscle rub we want essential oils that help to relax the muscles and have anti-inflammatory properties.

Coconut oil muscle rub

Relaxing/calming Essential oils are :

  • Lavender – Lavender really is an all purpose eo. It seems to have a multitude of benefits to the body but it is probably best known as a calming and relaxing essential oil. It also has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
  • Clary Sage – Clary sage is less well known but also very effective. It has an uplifting aroma which relieves stress and is generally relaxing. It helps to soften the skin.
  • Ylang Ylang – The fragrant Ylang Ylang is relaxing and good for stress. It is also good for the skin when applied topically.
  • Geranium – Geranium is another wonderfully scented oil that is often confused as rose essential oil. The smell is said to be calming and help you relax in stressful situations or after a stressful day.
  • Spearmint – most people are familiar with spearmint taste but it is also useful as a positive body stimulant especially after extended periods of physical activity. It’s scent is also a mood enhancer and supposedly good for mental health.
  • Chamomile – Or Roman Chamomile is another popular calming essential oil. People may even drink chamomile tea to relax or destress after a long day. Using Roman Chamomile essential oil topically can help you relax and ease tired muscles and joints.

Anti-inflammatory essential oils are :

  • Thyme
  • Rose
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Bergamot
  • Fennel

Recent research suggests that these essential oils can suppress the inflammatory COX-2 enzyme. This is partly responsible for inflammation in joints and muscles. The research also identified the chemical carvacrol as being responsible for this suppressive activity. Although they have this in common, each oil also has unique properties. For example, eucalyptus essential oil is a great expectorant and can help ease congestion and clear up stuffed sinuses.

So your muscle rub wants to be a mix of some of these oils and coconut oil.

Coconut Oil Muscle Rub Options

Your muscle rub can be either a liniment or a salve.

If you decide to go with a salve you will need a thickening agent. Beeswax is one of the more common ingredients used in skincare products for this. A salve will also involve more preparation as you have to heat the beeswax to mix it with the other ingredients.

Conversely a liniment is just a mix of oils and can be mixed together by placing the individual ingredients into a bottle and giving it a vigorous shake.

Liniment recipe idea


  • 120 ml of fractionated coconut oil.
  • 10 drops from 5 of the following essential oils : Lavender, Clary Sage, Ylang ylang, Geranium, Spearmint, Chamomile.
  • 5 drops from 3 of the following essential oils : Thyme, Clove, Eucalyptus, Bergamot, Fennel


Add all the ingredients together in an amber glass bottle or any colored glass bottle (this will protect the oils from UV radiation damage which will degrade the effectiveness of the mixture). Shake the bottle so that all the ingredients are mixed together. You probably want to do this every time you use the liniment.

Salve recipe idea


  • 240ml of  fractionated coconut oil.
  • 30 grams of beeswax.
  • 10 drops from 5 of the following essential oils : Lavender, Clary Sage, Ylang ylang, Geranium, Spearmint, Chamomile.
  • 5 drops from 3 of the following essential oils : Thyme, Clove, Eucalyptus, Bergamot, Fennel


Melt the wax and coconut oil in a glass bowl over a pan of steaming hot water. Once combined, add the essential oil drops and stir the mixture until completely blended. Pour the mixture into a glass jar or bottle (again, colored glass). Allow it to cool down and set before using.

How to Use

With the liniment and salve, apply a small amount to tired or sore muscles or joints and gently rub into the skin. Apply once a day to the affected area until it feels better.

Other options

Don’t be limited by these recipes either. Try your own recipes with your favorite essential oils. For example, if you have a favorite scent you may substitute this essential oil for one above. After all, the sense of smell can raise your mood, ease stress which may help recuperate tired muscles and joints.

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