Credit: google imagesFor many years now I have used Calendula ointment for a huge range of ailments: bites, scratches, sores, eczema, nappy rash, cradle cap and pretty much almost every minor injury you can think of. My children use it and now my grandchildren.
I sold it in my shop, online and I have even taught school children how to grow the plant, dry the flowers and make the ointment.
Now I want to share it with you. Some things are so precious they must be shared and my "Little Pot of Gold" will be one of the most useful ointments you will have in your first aid cabinet.
I am a Medical Herbalist taught in the art of traditional medicine. When I graduated I opened my shop in town which was a fantastic little business where I was happy for many years. One of my best products was Calendula ointment, which is very easy to make and surprisingly rewarding, because it makes fantastic gifts for friends and family but most of all it is fun to make.
This herb is known as the “weather forecaster” if the petals are still closed at 7 am then it will rain.
Strictly the herbal marigold is the single variety with 2-3 flat rows of petals surrounding a brownish circular centre. The branching stem and oval leaves are pale green, slightly hairy and sticky to touch, with a strong odour. The tap-root is white and fleshy. The seeds of Calendula cover all possibilities, the outer seeds being crescent-shaped burrs, good for latching on to passing animals or humans, then a circle of crescent moon shaped seeds and circular ones in the centre.
Calendula is an annual, easy to grow from seed with a 4-14 day germination period but once established will readily self-seed. I planted two Calendula plants a couple of years ago and now I have hundreds, happy to grow all year round Calendula is frost resistant and enjoys a sunny situation and good garden soil. This is a plant that enjoys harvesting, nipping the flower heads off encourages the plant to bush and flower even more profusely.
Who would have thought using this herb in your daily diet would be of benefit to your health?
Parts used: Flower heads, the leaves can be used but are not very effective.
Internally Calendula is beneficial for stomach and duodenal ulcers, known as a liver tonic it has an antiseptic effect on the liver and gallbladder, viral infections of the liver, other liver disorders, artery and capillary haemorrhage and also effective in delaying menstruation and normalizing the menstrual cycle. It is a must in body lotions especially if you have varicose veins. Externally calendula is an excellent herb for skin problems: inflammation, infection, bruising, cuts, ulcers, slow healing wounds, minor burns, oily skin, scalds, warts and eczema.
To dry Calendula flowers it is best to collect them after it has rained once the petals have dried in the sun. Always collect herbs once all moisture from dew and rain has gone. Collect the full flower head by nipping it with your fingers just under the base. Place them evenly without touching on a tray and store in a dry airing cupboard. While it's hot and sunny I might leave them in the sun for the day, then move them to my hot water cupboard. They will take 2-3 days to completely dry out. If you have a dehydrator, place on trays as above then put dehydrator on low for 2 hours and then medium for 2 hours. When plants are completely dry put in a brown paper bag and store in a dark dry place.
Calendula is unique among herbs, you will find this herb loses its color fast in just 3-4 weeks, while this does not affect the quality of the herb, this is the best time to make your oil because the ointment will have a more intense color. The dried flowers will still be effective for 6 months or more but the ointment will not be as vibrant looking.
“MY LITTLE POT OF GOLD”
Every home should have calendula ointment in the medicine cabinet for day to day first aid. Use for babies’ skin conditions and nappy rash, all wounds and inflamed lesions, boils, chilblains, fungal infection, bruises, eczema, acne and the best lip balm ever.
To make an oil lotion or ointment, pack the freshly dried flower heads into a sterilized jar and cover with oil. I generally use olive oil, however other good quality oils can be used. Seal and label the jar with the name of the herb, the date you made it and count six weeks for the date that it will be ready to process. Then place the jar in a sunny spot, this herb seems to soak up the suns rays and just loves a sunny position. Generally I put it someplace where I will see it every day and remember to shake the bottle. It is important not to allow any of the plant material to dry out. After six weeks your herb is ready to use as an oil, great to add to babies bath, use as a massage oil, a base for your favorite dressings for salads, or to make into an ointment.
How to make Ointment
Drain oil into a pot squeezing excess through a sieve, the remaining plant material may be added to your compost heap. Add beeswax to the oil (which may be bought from a chemist or from a local honey maker) and place on very low heat to melt the beeswax slowly. Pour into a sterilized jar and cool, at this point I often add essential oil for extra aromatherapy. For children I recommend Lavender or Chamomile and for me Rose Otto my favorite. I use about 2 parts oil to 1 part beeswax. When it has cooled and solid, if your ointment is too hard, reheat and add a little more oil. If not hard enough, reheat and add a little more beeswax.
Feel free to pass this recipe on to all your friends and family, it is hard to believe that something so simple, grown in your own garden and made by you could so effective. I have customers who cannot believe the results, "so fast, amazing how it stops the itch immediately, it works better than any eczema ointment I have ever used". "Awesome for new tattoos, the new tattoo doesn’t even crust up". Try it and you’ll see, just one thing, please let me know how it worked for you, I would Love your feedback.