Creating a Healing Salve
Calendula petals have been used in healing remedies since ancient times. The Romans valued the herb for its ability to break fevers. During the Middle Ages, calendula was used for protection against the plague. And in early American Shaker medicine, calendula was used to treat everything from bruises and swellings to gangrene. Calendula flowers are sacred flowers in India and have been used to decorate the statues of Hindu deities since early times.
Recent studies of the herb have confirmed that the list of benefits of its flowers are long: anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory. Calendula when applied to the skin has been shown to reduce pain and swelling, and to treat poorly-healed wounds and leg ulcers. It is also used topically for nosebleeds, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, inflammation of the rectum (proctitis), ear infection, gum disease, peeling lips (exfoliative cheilitis), diaper rash, vaginal yeast infection, and inflammation of the lining of the eyelid (conjunctivitis). This is definitely a herb you want in your home medicine cabinet!
Not only is calendula very healing to the body, but it also helps in the garden. Known to repel tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, and aphids, it an exceptional companion plant in your vegetable garden. And in the end, being surrounded by bright cheery-orange flower petals is not a bad thing at all.
The petals are edible and quite delicious, and can be used fresh in salads or dried and used to color cheese or as a replacement for saffron. The petals can also be used as a natural dye. I love this plant!
Creating your own home medicine with calendula petals is not hard at all and such a satisfying feeling.
After collecting the calendula flower heads during a dry, warm day and composting the other green bits, I left them out on a baking rack to dry in all areas of the house, much to my hunny’s displeasure...
Once fully-dried, pull off the petals and put them into a jar with enough room to full cover with the monounsaturated (say that ten times fast) oil of your choice. I choose olive oil with a small amount of sweet almond oil, pouring the oils over the calendula petals until they are completely covered.
Leaving the jars (we had enough petals to fill a few jars) on our sunny kitchen counter (sorry hunny!) for a couple of weeks will infuse the oils with the healthy, golden-yellow colour and essence.
Strain the petals and store the oil in a clean, darkened glass jar. Label. ‘Always label’ my herbology mentor told me. I wish my writing was a bit more fancy but there you have it.
Store bottles and jars of oil (and herbs) in a dry, cool if possible, dark place.
To make a healing garden salve, I gently melted down a few tablespoons of beeswax. Now if you are vegan, canuba wax is your go-to, I heard.
As soon as the last bit of hardened wax softens, take it off the heat and add it to a non-metallic (can’t remember why but seems like a thing) bowl that already had your calendula oil in it.
Mix together with a clean, wood or bamboo (there’s that non-metallic thing again) stirring spoon slowly but thoroughly, and pour into your pre-prepared clean tins (my preference is to save and clean them from previous natural skin products). I like to also add a soothing essential oil, only a few drops right at the end, such as lavender, my go-to favourite essential oil and scent.
Label and store. Use at every instance of burn, scrape, sore, (closed) wound, dry skin, and boo-boo.
Repeat next spring to autumn!
PLEASE NOTE: Calendula plants are known to cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to the the daisy family Asteraceae, and like most herbal remedies, should be avoided during pregnancy and/or breast-feeding.
* Pharmacogn Rev. 2013 Jul-Dec