Healing with Calendula

Calendula is an incredibly versatile herb, with gorgeous flowers that always cheer me up when I see them growing in the garden or in the wild. Deer love to eat the flowers so protect your plants if you’ve got deer in your area. I’ve lost a lot of calendula flowers from deer sneaking into my back yard and munching in my flower pots, so now I plant them in a fenced garden plot.

Calendula is an annual flower, but it self-seeds quite nicely if you allow some of the flowers to dry on the plant and drop naturally. I still have a small amount of the dried flowers/petals from last year’s harvest that I am using to make some salves and tinctures while still leaving some of my stash for herbal teas.

Using what I had on hand for an oil, I used safflower oil for the salve I will make. Safflower oil is noncomedogenic, anti-inflammatory, and can help the overall appearance of your skin. The dried herb will need to soak in the oil for another 5-6 weeks before it will be ready to strain and mix with beeswax to make my salves. I added some vitamin e oil to the jar as well. The salve will be good for use with acne, rashes, burns, wounds, varicose veins, and to prevent muscle spasms. It helps to improve skin overall, and has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial properties and is also used to reduce pain and swelling, so adding it to an oil like safflower just made sense to me.

The tincture I am making is based with a 40% alcohol content gluten-free vodka and also has 5-6 weeks left to steep. Since calendula also aids in helping clear acne, reduces heartburn, sore throats, constipation and abdominal cramping, I decided to make an alcohol based tincture in addition to the oil. It can be mixed with witch hazel for a face astringent, plus be taken internally if you don’t want to brew a tea. You can add the tincture by dropper into a glass of water or simply on your tongue if you prefer.

I used 1 part dried flowers to 4 parts liquid in both the oil and the tincture base. I may add some essential oils (therapeutic grade only) like lavender or rosemary to the oil once it is ready to be heated with the beeswax and poured into small containers. The tincture will be left alone and put into a dark glass dropper once it is ready and has been strained with cheesecloth.

When I make a tea from calendula, I normally add it to chamomile if I don’t have a loose green tea on hand. You can add any number of herbs to the calendula for your tea as the taste is not too overpowering. In a little over a month, I’ll let you know how the tincture and the salve came out.

What are your favorite uses for calendula? Feel free to comment and share your favorite use or recipe below.

*Calendula is also known to start menstrual periods, so do not use this if you are pregnant (or nursing) or if you have an allergy to ragweed.

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