Calendula officinalis. To some it’s a pretty flower to admire, to me it’s a powerful herbal medicine. I’ve only scratched the surface on medicating oneself herbally, but the stuff I’ve read about the benefits of Calendula are remarkable, especially in regards to the skin.
After a lot of research, I had started 9 seedlings indoors about a month before the last frost. Since the first blooms appeared in late June, I collected orange flower heads, dried them and carefully plucked the petals off. I eventually had enough to fill a 500 ml canning jar and recently covered the dry mass with olive oil. It now sits on a window sill as I impatiently wait. This is the folk method of making an oil infusion, from James Green’s book, “The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual”, where no measuring or weighing of ingredients is involved.
The plan all along was to use this calendula oil and blend it along with both shea and cocoa butters to make a whipped body cream. Though I really wish I had more petals. I would have liked to make a tincture or infusions for over the germ-riddled winter season. My only excuse is that I had gotten lazy near the end and let many flowers go to seed. The advantage to my laziness is that I collected a lot of that seed. I spread it over various parts of my land, hoping for “volunteer” plants to pop up next year.
Next season, I plan on keeping the entire dried flower head for medicine-making en lieu of just the petals. I noticed that the heads contain a lot of sticky resin that’s full of the healing properties calendula flowers are known for. I’ll also reserve a small jar of dried petals in the kitchen to use as “poor-man’s saffron”.
Check these write-ups on Calendula:
- Calendula: Plant Sunshine (PDF), by The East-West School for Herbal & Aromatic Studies
- Calendula – aka Superherb, from Whispering Earth
- July is Calendula Month!, from the Urban Herb School
- Calendula, University of Maryland Medical Center
But it’s not just about what these flowers can do for us… Calendulas are bright, cheery and simply a pleasure to look at.
Disclaimer: It should be said that, if you’re planning on delving into herbal healing, you should perform your own due diligence and research the hell out of whatever it is you intend to prescribe to yourself or others.