Calendula is a bright sunny yellow daisy like flower native to northern mediterranean countries. It is also known as “pot marigold” and has been used for centuries to heal wounds and skin irritations. Although it is one of the marigold family, only the medicinal variety known as calendula officinalis should ever be used in salves and teas.
It’s vibrant colors brighten both the garden and the medicine chest. It is a super easy to grow annual and often self seeds, returning every season to lighten up any garden. This year we grew it from seeds that we sowed directly into the pots on our back porch (that’s a picture of them, up there) . The bees loved all the flowers!
Best known for healing the skin, calendula is used for soothing minor irritation, burns, bruises and wounds. “Calendula has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, antifungal, antiviral, and immunostimulant properties making it useful for disinfecting and treating minor wounds, conjunctivitis, cuts, scrapes, chapped or chafed skin, bruises, burns, athlete’s foot, acne, yeast infections, bee stings, diaper rashes, and other minor irritations and infections of the skin.”
The beautiful yellow calendula flowerhead is commonly made into salves and used for healing cuts, scrapes, burns, sunburns, diaper rash, sores, ulcers and chapped lips. It helps calm inflamed tissues and aids in the healing of cuts and abrasion. Calendula is among the most soothing herbs and is used in many salves and creams.
Herbalists also recommend using calendula flowers in tea infusions for the healing of digestive ulcers, soothing the gallbladder and easing sore lymph glands. You can also brew a strong batch of calendula petals into a tea and use it as a compress on minor burns.
If you are growing your own, harvest on a sunny morning when the flowerheads are just beginning to open. There are several methods for drying the flowers. You can place them in a dehydrator if you have one; spread them out on a cookie sheet and leave in the sun (but check the forecast for rain!) ; or spread them on a cookie sheet and place in 125 F oven until they dry out.
- 1 part dried chamomile
- 2 parts mint or spearmint
- 1 part dried calendula flowers
Place 1 teaspoon of herbs per cup in a tea ball or bag, and cover with boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes to let the flavors infuse the water. Remove tea ball or bag. It’s wonderful as is, but a little raw honey and lemon is a nice touch too!
1-1/4 cups carrier oil such as Olive Oil, Sweet Almond Oil. or Jojoba Oil
1 cup dried calendula flowers
Place all contents into a large mason jar and store in a cool dry place for 2-3 weeks. Strain with a cheesecloth to remove all of the flower particles. Pour the oil into dark bottles. Label with date and contents.
Mother Earth News : A Guide to Healing Herbs, Winter 2014