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The Philo Pharm Herb Column --
Calendula Officianalis (Calendula)

by Mary Pat Palmer-Taylor

April 26, 2003

  Calendula Officianalis
          Many medicinal herbs grow profusely. They are saying, “Here I am. Use me!” Calendula grows with a sunny joy many, many places in the Deep End – like in front of Alicia Garcia’s Floodgate Store. Not only is Calendula a beautiful, sunny, easy to grow herb but it is one of the most important healing plants in our herbal repertoire. We use the flowers of this plant for medicine.
          A very important quality of calendula is that it is very gentle and safe; it is one of the herbs that can be used very safely with children as well as adults. One of the properties of calendula is as an alterative. What this means is that it is an herb that can be safely used over time that will alter the body in positive ways. Calendula is also a mild antibiotic. It is also a diaphoretic, gently heating the body. And it is an astringent and tones tissues.
          Calendula is also very versatile in the ways it can be used. It is a good tea or infusion; pour a cup of boiling water over about a teaspoon of dried calendula flowers and let it steep for about 10 minutes. The tea is especially good for children for colds, mild infections and inflammations, and wonderful as an eyewash for conjunctivitis.
          It is my favorite lip balm and a wonderful salve for healing cuts and scrapes (you can make it yourself from directions below or buy it from me).
          To make calendula salve you will need a container in which the flowers can be gently heated in olive oil. Professionals use equipment that ensures an exact temperature, but for home use I have found two methods to be effective; a crock pot or a jar on top of your water heater.
          2 cups calendula flowers
          olive oil to cover
          Place calendula flowers into your vessel and cover with olive oil with about ½ inch of oil on the top. Times vary for infusing the oil, but I generally let it sit overnight. Strain your oil off with cheesecloth or a fine sieve. Your next step is to add beeswax which will give the salve the consistency you want. ¼ cup beeswax to 1 cup of infused oil is the general ratio. You can, however, vary this to get a consistency that is right for you. Place the oil and grated beeswax into a double boiler and heat gently until the beeswax is melted. At this point you could add something, vitamin E or aloe vera gel or an essential oil. Then you simply pour it into jars and you have your salve! To make lip balm use slightly more beeswax and add some vitamin E and pour into lip balm containers.
          If you have any questions, please feel free to email me and please check my website! Enjoy!
          -- Mary Pat Palmer-Taylor


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