Monday, July 21, 2008
Calendula - herb of the year
The Calendula plant (Calendula officinalis), specifically its flowers, is best known for its use in skin care. Pot marigold as it is often called has anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Its ability to promote epithelial cell growth and healing of the skin has been well documented in both animal and human studies. Calendula also has purported immunostimulating activity that contributes to its wound healing ability. It is the flowers of calendula that contain these healing properties.
Calendula is useful for minor abrasions but also for leg ulcers, radiation burns, and surgical wounds. It can also be used internally for wounds such as stomach ulcers.
Calendula for skin care is primarily used as an oil infusion. Oil infusions are easy to make and can be done simply by putting a handful of dried calendula flowers in a jar and completely covering those flowers with an oil of your choice. I use olive oil for its anti-inflammatory properties or rice bran oil for its high content of phytoestrogens. Once the infused oil is made and the herbs are filtered out with cheesecloth, beeswax can be added to form a more solid product that is used as a balm for damaged skin. This infused oil can also be added to hand and body lotions, bath oils, salt scrubs or even soap for its healing properties. The high vitamin A content of this oil is also a plus for epithelial cell health.
Calendula is an excellent choice for for a hand balm for gardeners and can also be combined with healing herbs like plantain or comfrey. I make a balm that I call knuckle balm that is perfect for working hands on gardeners or mechanics. It soothes dry cracked hands that work hard. You can order this balm from my website or by email.