Winter Herbal Self-care
This November into December has started off rough, with the death of my beloved Father. Skip Daddy. But one of the best things that I could have done for him at the end was to treat him to herbs for his skin, herbs for his belly, and herbs for healing.
Calendula, plantain and comfrey are the heavy hitters in my salve. Calendula and plantain are wonderful in a tea to drink. Calendula soap is my go to when the skin needs nourished and healed safely. Our Lavender Hemp Stick - is carried with me at all times, as you never know when you get a cut or a sore that needs the analgesic properties of the lavender essential oil as well as the skin regenerating properties of the hemp carrier oil.
So let me tell you about my favorite flower, Calendula (Calendula officials). Calendula, pot marigold, a member of the aster is a plant that has been used for centuries for wounds, rashes, infections, inflammation, and many other conditions. The evidence that supports this is not with the FDA - but with the history behind the use. The chemical constituents contained within the plant help new tissue growth, help to decrease swelling in mucous membranes from the mouth to the pelvic region, the gut, and protects the skin from radiation damage.
Calendula contains flavonoids and antioxidants - carotenoids, quercetin, and lutein. The studies that have been done have demonstrated collagen degradation. Calendula is a powerhouse - it is both an astringent and demulcent. It heals wounds via the vulnerary actions, it modulates inflammation. It is antimicrobial and immune stimulating.
Skin - this simple yellow or orange flowered plant, is kind of an all-purpose go to for so many skin problems. Itchy skin - dandruff - minor scratches or wounds - this plant is mildly antimicrobial helping to prevent infections and soothe the discomfort of burns. For my Dad, this was the soap that we used to wash him have 2 months of the hospital using chlorehexidine wipes daily. His skin was dry, flakey, itchy, pressure sores had developed and this is what I took to the hospital. The nurse said that I couldn't use handmade products on my Dad - I said - "wash your twat with those Chlorehexidine wipes" she said - "you can use your products." It is wonderful when included in a salve or cream - and our Bug Bite Salve can also be used on a diaper rash - or when you have gotten rubbed raw "guarded" from wearing the wrong britches to walk to the top of the farm, hunting escapee horses.
We also infuse calendula into oil and combine it with St. John's Wort oil and rose hip seed oil to help with preventing scarring. The calendula can also be tinctured or made in to a simple tea to make a poultice, as well as combining it with yarrow or horse chestnut to consume to help with blood vessel health.
When you make a tea with the calendula petals, it can be used to treat gastrointestinal "wounds" - and it is a major part of Good Horse Scent's "gut-heal" tea. By helping to heal the gut lining, calendula and plantain are used regularly. The polysaccharides that are contained in calendula, stimulates the immune system. It also helps to stimulate lymphatic drainage and can be used as a strong tea or poultice on swollen glands and bloating.
So what else . . . well my friend and fellow herbalist, Val Gutherie (G & G Heritage Farms) also made cookies that she sold at the Putnam Farmers Market with the petals. YUMMY!
So in a nut shell - I have told you what I love to do with calendula. It is on my shelves infused in oil, alcohol, dried flower heads are stored and so are the petals.
But here is a caution - if you are allergic to chamomile, treat calendula with caution as it is a member of the Aster family too.
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