Calendula flowers infused in a sweet almond oil makes a wonderful cooling, healing and soothing blend.
Herbs like Calendula have constituents that speed up the formation of new connective tissue and blood vessels within a wound, as well as anti-inflammatory properties making it a valuable vulnerary
Constituents in plants are the chemicals that we sometimes refer to a phytochemicals. Theses plant constituents are created by the normal metabolic processes of the plant as it goes about its daily living. Without getting to scientific , some of these metabolites are the movers and shakers in herbal medicine. While it is really fascinating to look at these individual plant chemicals and how they act upon the body, it is also really important not to get to reductionist in our work with herbs and the body. There is still so much we don’t know or understand. Herbs acting as whole plants often act upon our bodies in individual ways, and are often greater than the sum of their parts. I for one really appreciate some of the mystery that Mother Nature still retains.
A Vulnerary is a herb that is used for the healing of wounds.
Calendula with its vibrant deep orange and sometimes summer yellow petals originates from the Mediterranean countries. Its name comes from its propensity to flower in accordance to the calendar months or with the new moon. There are parts of South Wexford where I have seen Calendula in flower almost all year round.
It has an ancient history in herbal medicine in particular for its ability to treat skin conditions. It has astringent, anti-inflammatory, wound healing, anti-viral and immune stimulant actions among many others.
James Duke mentions the immune action in relation to skin disease “Calendula also stimulates white blood cells to gobble up harmful microbes and helps speed up wound healing” (1)
How to Make Herb Infused Oils
Fill your very clean and very dry jar about 3/4 full with dried Calendula flowers.( or whatever dried herb you are using)
Pour almond oil over the flowers to fill the jar, leaving about 1/2 an inch of space at the top. If you are making a medicinal oil you can use a good quality organic olive oil, the sweet almond oil is great if you are using the infused oil for a cream, a massage oil or lip balm.The space you are leaving at the top is to allow your mixture room to be agitated.
Stir to release any air bubbles.
Make sure the oil covers the dried flowers ( you can make infused oils with fresh herbs but it is a little trickier as the water content of the herbs increases the chances of your precious oil becoming mouldy or rancid.)
Label your jars (trust me you will forget what some of them are if you don’t especially the green herbs) Put the common name ( Marigold) and the Latin name ( Calendula officinalis). Getting to know the Latin names for our herbs is a really helpful and helps you avoid mixing up your species. For example the French marigold (Tagetes patula) has digestive properties but its flowers would not make the same kine of healing oil as Calendula.
Give your jar a good shake , let the contents settle and then open your lid and make sure the herbs are still covered. If they are poking a little above the oil level add a little more oil.
Place your jar where it can avail of as much sunshine as possible. Agitate or basically shake your jar daily , especially for the first week. Have a sniff to check for rancidity. If there is mould or your oil goes rancid then put it down to experience and the compost heap and try again.
An infused oil takes about two to three weeks.
When the mix is ready, pour off the oil and place the remaining herbs in some cheese cloth and squeeze out the oil from the plant materials. If you want a really strong oil add another batch of herbs and repeat the infusion method.
Label your oil and store in a cool dark place and they can last up to a year , or you can use this oil to make a healing salve. Making a herbal salve
1.Duke J. The Green Pharmacy.UK: Rodale; 2003.p390