Welcome to the week 1 lesson in the June Herb Challenge here on GrowingUpHerbal.com.
Like I said before in the Herb Challenge Intro, I hope that this challenge not only teaches you a bit about the herb calendula and has you getting your hands dirty using it in a few different ways, but I hope to engage with you on a more personal level as well. I hope that this herb challenge pushes you forward a bit and helps get you motivated to delve into the world of herbs in order to keep your family healthy and heal them when they aren’t.
Over the course of this challenge, we’ll be learning a good bit of information on the herb calendula as well as talking about some of its most common uses. This information will build on top of itself each week so that by the end of the month, you should have a nice bit of info learned when it comes to this herb. If you have any questions during the course of this challenge, ask away in the comment section below.
Okay, so let’s dive right in!
Calendula is one of those herbs that is most commonly used locally… meaning its therapeutic action takes place in one specific area, not in the whole body (systemic). It’s for this reason that calendula is a great herb for skin conditions. I’ll explain this further in just a second.
Calendula has antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and astringent actions in the body… all making it ideal for the skin. It’s also thought to help heal wounds faster as it increases the oxygen flow to the wound causing the cells to regenerate more quickly.
Some common uses of calendula are to treat infected areas on the body like sores and cuts as well as fungal outbreaks like athletes foot or yeast infections. It can also be used on swollen, painful, or inflamed areas of the skin such as eczema, bug bites, and burns. The fact that calendula has an astringent action makes it particularly helpful for many of the above mentioned uses. An astringent causes the surrounding tissues to tighten up or contract which is helpful in drawing things out of those tissues… such as infection, poisons, or foreign objects like splinters.
Safety of Calendula
Calendula is one of those herbs that can be used on anyone regardless of age. It has no known side effects or toxic levels. However, everyone is different and some people who have allergies to ragweed may also be allergic to calendula.
To test for an allergic reaction, make a strong cup of calendula infusion and drink 1 tsp. Wait 30 minutes. If no reaction occurs, drink 1 TBSP. Wait another 30 minutes. If no reaction occurs then, drink 1/2 cup. Wait again, then try 1 full cup. If you have no reaction after all of this, it’s very unlikely that you are allergic to calendula.
Now that you know a bit about how calendula is beneficial for the skin, let’s get hands on and make something using it!
Week 1 Project – Calendula Infused Oil
This week we’ll be making an herbal infused oil with calendula flowers. Infused oils are great because they extract fat soluble vitamins, volatile oils, and resins from plants. Calendula just so happens to contain these constituents so making an infused oil from it is a great way to make these benefits available to you. Calendula oil is a very soothing, moisturizing oil that contains all of the therapeutic properties that were mentioned above.
Now there are many ways to make infused oils. Some are better than others, but I’m not going to discuss all those ways here today. If you’re interested in some in-depth learning on herbal infused oils, check out my Ultimate How-To Guide To Infusing Herbal Oils. It will explain everything. Today, I’ll be showing you how to infuse an herbal oil as I discuss it on my “Using Herbs – Infusing Oils” page.
Before we get started on our project, let me tell you some different ways you can use this oil once it’s made.
- after-bath oil
- massage oil
- eczema oil
- base oil for salve, cream, or lotion
- base oil in soaps
- oil in facial serum
- minor wound oil
- ear drops for ear infections
I’ve also included a bonus recipe below that uses this infused oil. Feel free to use the infused oil you just made or to make more for this recipe. Just be sure you don’t use all of your calendula flowers as we’ll need more of them for our other projects during the month!
Making Calendula Infused Oil
1. Using a glass measuring cup, add calendula flowers to the 2 oz mark. Put flowers in a saucepan. Next, fill your glass measuring cup with sweet almond oil to the 4 oz. mark. Add this to your herbs in a saucepan.
2. Heat over LOW heat for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
3. Strain herbs using a stainless strainer, a cotton muslin bag, or an old piece of fabric. Compost herbs.
4. Bottle herbal oil and label.
Bonus Calendula Recipe
The recipe you will find below can be used with the infused oil from today’s project. Enjoy, experiment, and have fun!
Calendula Healing Salve
- 4 oz. calendula infused oil
- 1/2 oz. beeswax
- 10 drops each tea tree and lavender essential oil
Infuse herbs into oil. Strain and compost herbs. Reserve 4 oz of herbal oil. Combine oil with melted beeswax over low heat. Pour into a 4 oz. tin or glass jar. Add essential oils and let sit until salve is hardened. Label and store.
Week 1 Mini-Quiz
Okay, so below are questions to answer to see what you remember from the above info. Try to answer them without looking back, but if you need to, it’s really no big deal. Most things in life are open book so don’t beat yourself up over needing to look back.
- Does calendula have action locally or systemically?
- Name one plant constituent that is extracted by infusing herbs into oil.
- What is one of the therapeutic actions of calendula?
- What does an astringent do to the body’s tissues?
- Name two ways to use calendula oil on the skin.
All finished! Way to go!
Okay, so that’s it for this weeks herb challenge. I hope you’ve learned a little something about calendula as well as how to quickly infuse herbs into oil. Come back next week for some more specific information on this plant and an all new herb project!
If you’re just coming across this herb challenge and you’d like to participate, CLICK HERE to learn more about the challenge itself, to access the materials list for the challenge projects, and to access each week of the herb challenge.
Now it’s your turn! In the comment section below, tell me one thing you learned about calendula this week. You can also share one way you’re planning on using it in your family, and of course, if you have any questions about this weeks lesson, leave them below. I’ll respond to them as soon as I can!
References:http://www.herbmentor.com http://www.herbworld.com/learningherbs/calendula.pdf https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/marigo16.html The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook by James A. Duke, Ph.D. The How To Herb Book by Velma Keith and Monteen Gordon Practical Herbalism by Philip Fritchey, MH, ND, CNHP