Calendula Salve

Thursday, May 21, 2020

I absolutely love this photo of Calendula blossoms infusing in olive oil. One of the reasons it's special to me is that I planted, tended, talked to, watered, and snipped every one of those blossoms. All season long, every day, me and my little wooden bowl and scissors went the few steps out my back door into my small garden and removed these little treasures to my drying rack.

Growing your own herbs is a great way to get acquainted with them! I had four Calendula plants growing in a half barrel and they did extremely well - absolutely prolific.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) has long been used topically to soothe and mend cuts, burns, bites, sprains, bruises, rashes, sunburns and abrasions. It's for this purpose that I chose to infuse this gold bounty in olive oil and make a salve from it.

If you need to purchase your calendula oil for this recipe there's no shame in that, but the price of it will inspire you to add calendula to your own herb garden for next time! If you have dried calendula blossoms on hand and would like to infuse your own, take a look at Making Herbal Oil Infusions.

Ingredients For Calendula Salve

4 ounces by weight of calendula oil (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 ounce by weight of beeswax (about 2 tablespoons)
20-80 drops essential oils (optional)

Instructions

First, set out the containers you plan on filling. I like these small tins but I've used glass containers and recycled tins as well.

Gently warm the infused oil using a double boiler. If you don't have one you can easily just place a stainless steel bowl over a pot that has a couple inches of simmering water in it.

It doesn't take the oil long to warm up at all, just a minute or so. Then add in the beeswax and stir until thoroughly mixed and melted. Add in the essential oils if using them and stir again.

Carefully pour the hot salve into the tins or jars. Completely cool before using. Don't forget to add a label!

Tip: Using less beeswax will produce a creamier salve and using more will make it more solid. Sometimes people test salve consistency before filling their containers by putting a small amount on a spoon and putting it in the fridge for about 15 minutes (I am one of those people). In any case, if you make a batch that's too hard or too soft, you can always warm it again and add more oil or beeswax. 

I'm very happy with how this batch turned out. I did use the spoon test mentioned in the tip and decided to add a tiny bit extra oil to the mix before pouring out. Also, I had decided I was not going to add any essential oils this time but hubby requested I try adding some Vetiver. I had to use a lot to get a very subtle aroma but we both love it.

It's very satisfying making my own herbal oils and salves all the way from harvest to label. And that brings me to the fun finale of this project... what do I name it?! Vetiver has that lovely earthy aroma and with spring gardening, bug bites, scrapes and other boo-boos around the corner I think I'll call it...



References:

Herbal Academy. (n.d.) Calendula monograph. Retrieved from 
https://herbarium.theherbalacademy.com/monographs/#/monograph/2025



2

Joyful Tea Blend

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The art of creating a good therapeutic tea blend is something a little mysterious. It certainly involves knowledge of herbal actions and flavors but there's more to it than that. I've observed that some people just really have an intuitive knack for it. For me... not so much. I keep playing at it though and now and then I come up with a keeper!

It is so true that "necessity is the mother of invention". A simple wish often inspires a creative spark!

I wish I may, I wish I might... create a tea blend that would bring some calm and enjoyment into my stressful work days. That was what I needed. This is what I came up with... 

Joyful Tea Blend

Combine the following herbs in equal parts. Steep 1-2 teaspoons for 15 minutes, up to 4 times daily. I don't usually sweeten my teas but you can add a bit of stevia or honey if you prefer. 

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) ---  Spicy and warm. An ally for the brain (enhances cognition), mood elevating, and seasonal affective disorder.

Linden (Tilia platyphyllos, T. cordata) --- Sweet and moist. Anti-depressant, lowers blood pressure,  soothes tension and stress. Thought to relieve impatience and anger. 

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) ---  Sweet and moist. Anxiety, upset stomach, irritability, and nervous headache.

This blend is truly a joy anytime of the year but it's especially nice in the wintertime due to its energetics - spicy, warm, sweet, and moist. Just the ticket for cold/dry constitutions. You may have noticed that each herb is wonderfully aromatic as well. This alone is very uplifting! 

In my experience, the beneficial activity of these plant allies bring some relief to a stressful work environment. And never underestimate the additional reward that comes with slowing down long enough to do something with intention. Enjoy!


Safety considerations: Do not consume if allergic to any of the flowering herbs or leaves in this blend. Lemon balm has a mild thyroxin-inhibiting activity so those with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and other hypothyroid conditions should avoid large quantities of it (small amounts as part of a larger formula should not be an issue). 


References:

Adaptogens - Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief. Materica Medica - Nervines. By David Winston, RH (AHG) with Steven Maimes. Lemon balm p. 252-253.

Adaptogens - Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief. Materica Medica - Nervines. By David Winston, RH (AHG) with Steven Maimes. Linden p. 253-254

The Modern Herbal Dispensatory by Thomas Easley | Steven Horne. Linden - p. 262

The Wild Medicine Solution - Healing with Aromatic, Bitter, and Tonic Plants by Guido Mase. Linden. p. 100

Adaptogens - Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief. Materica Medica - Nervines. By David Winston, RH (AHG) with Steven Maimes. Chamomile p. 247-249



0

Making Herbal Oil Infusions

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Infusing herbs into oil has been a common practice in kitchens the world over for a very long time. Whether making a base for that favorite salad dressing, a body lotion or an herbal salve for your first aid kit, it's easy! 

The first thing to know is that herbal oil infusions are NOT the same thing as essential oils. 

Second, choose herbs and carrier oils for a specific purpose and know whether it's safe to ingest or apply topically according to that choice. 

In my kitchen the purpose for infusing herbs is most often for body care recipes like creams, salves, lip balms or massage oils. 

Method Of Infusion - Two Ways

I usually go the slow and easy way which is simply to put well dried herbs into a dry glass jar and cover by a couple inches of oil. Stir the mix a bit so there are no air pockets, put the lid on and let it sit in a sunny window for 4-6 weeks until ready. Some people believe that covering the jar with a paper bag during this time protects the herbs from UV light. I'm not so sure about that. Sometimes I cover and sometimes I don't. I generally give mine a little shake every day though. 

One really important thing never to skip... ALWAYS label your jar with the contents and a start date! 

When enough time has passed just strain out the herbs using cheesecloth, squeezing out every drop and then pour into a clean glass jar. I store mine in a cool dark cabinet until needed. 

The quick and easy method is just a variation of the slow easy way. Instead of sitting your filled jar in a sunny window you use a crockpot. Simply place a small towel in the bottom of the pot and sit your jar on top of it. Then add enough water to come half way up the jar. Cover with the lid and turn it on to the lowest setting for 2-6 hours. When it's ready just strain out the herbs, pour into a clean glass jar and store in cool dark place until needed. 

These oils can be kept for up to a year. I add vitamin E oil to my infusions at 1/4 tsp to every finished 2 cups of herbal infusion to prolong the shelf life. Some do this and some don't. I can't imagine not finding a use for these lovely oils before they go rancid but I still choose to add the vitamin E oil to mine.     

Now go forth and be fabulous with your own herbal oil infusions!  


0