This is the time of year where I’m reaping the benefits of my harvest. Not to say harvest season is over – in a lot of ways it’s just begun! But I harvest most of my flowers between April (when dandelion begins) through July, when the sun is the strongest.
Right now, I’m focused on making Calendula medicine in my apothecary.
The name Marigold is given to many yellow-orange pot herbs of this species. This is where Latin names become important to ensure you do indeed have the medicinal marigold that will serve as potent medicine. The second part to its name, “officinalis” indicates that it was “officially” used in the pharmacopeia’s (that is, medicine and pharmacy) of Europe until modern 21st century medicine.
Calendula is a powerful disinfectant, in fact, Dr. Margery Blackie (1898-1981) the Royal Physician to Queen Elizabeth used Calendula tincture to disinfect surgery instruments in war camps during the 2nd World War.
Today, herbalists and homeopaths alike use this “weed” that grows between cracks in sidewalks, road sides, and driveways, to disinfect as it is a very powerful antimicrobial, and a whole lot more….
I teach my herbal students to always pay close attention to plants that grow tenaciously in the most extraordinary places, under dire conditions. If you look closely in the photo above, you’ll see that this healthy robust calendula is growing in the tiniest patch of rumble alongside a paved driveway with barely any soil and next to no water. Amazing. This tells us the plant has a strong immune system. The very immune system that it lends to us humans when we harvest and utilize the plant for medicine.
Calendula is made into an oil to soothe sore, infected, damaged (from sun, radiation etc) skin. Once you have the oil, you can use it to make into a salve or cream to protect the skin, speed the healing of scrapes, scars, incisions, and other wounds.
It can be used for painful skin lesions from chickenpox, cystic acne, boils, or surgical wounds.
Making your own calendula oil is incredibly easy. In the picture above my calendula blossoms have been sitting in olive oil on a sunny window for about a month. Go here for step-by-step instructions for how to make your own.
Most readers are probably familiar with Calendula baby creams and diaper creams. Calendula soothes the skin, cools inflammation, and signals the body to generate healthy new skin cells. It helps to strengthen the capillary cell walls while also preventing infection.
I make my calendula tincture only from fresh flowers. The sticky resin that you can feel as you pick the flower heads is a key ingredient making this herb a powerful antimicrobial.
To properly extract the resin, you must use a high percentage of alcohol. I use between 75%-95%. Go here for step-by-step instructions for how to make your own tincture. It’s easy – takes all of 5 minutes!
Internally and externally it can treat athletes foot, yeast infections, ringworm. I also use the tincture to support the lymphatic system to fight off infection such as sore throats, strep, cold viruses and sinus infections. It blends well as a tincture with Echinacea. For sore lymph nodes, take as a fresh tincture three times a day.
You can moisten a cotton ball in the fresh tincture to place in the mouth after tooth extractions to stop bleeding, prevent infection, and ease inflammation. Consider using the tincture diluted with water as a mouth wash to prevent infection.
CALENDULA TEA I make a strong tea of this herb and add the infusion to baths for women after giving birth, to prevent infection, cool, soothe, and protect and ensure a speedy healing and recovery.
The dried blossoms can be added to all kinds of teas to soothe skin, inflammation (yeast infections, bowel inflammation, sore throats, internal burns from radiation, fevers, teething in babies). Consider blending dried calendula blossoms with other herbs to taste pleasant and continue supporting the immune system, such as: elderberries, lemon balm, catnip, peppermint, spearmint, red clover, marshmallow.
GROW IT AND NEVER RUN OUT Calendula self-seeds, and once you have some, you likely always will. Harvesting the blossoms promotes growth. I can harvest calendula blossoms May through October! Though I have found the most potent blossoms are the ones growing under the hot, challenging sun. The intense heat tends to encourage the release of the sticky, anti-microbial resin.
BEAUTY & THE BEES The beauty of this plant is medicine to the soul. It’s known as a helpful companion plant, and the bees love it! The benefits of this safe, abundant plant is yet another gift of nature.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below – share your own experience with calendula including favourite recipes!