The calendula flower has a multitude of medicinal uses and should be granted a lengthy row in your off-the-grid pharmacy garden or adorning pots on your front porch. The flower garnered its name because it blooms in a calendar cycle — or once each month during the full moon. The calendula is native to the northern Mediterranean region.
Keeping dried leaves from the calendula flower in mason jars will also add a bit of extra flavor to your long-term storage foods. For centuries, the flower has been added to soups, rice dishes, cereals and salads. Beginning about seven decades ago, American doctors began using petals from the calendula flower to treat fevers, burns, minor skin infections, amenorrhea, conjunctivitis, cuts, scrapes and bruises.
Earlier this week, I was once again thrilled to get to attend the weeklong Amish auction in Mount Hope, Ohio. The region where the massive auction takes place is known as Ohio Amish Country and attracts visitors from all around the country. The offerings and the deals at the highly anticipated once-a-year auction surpass the incredible deals offered on weekends throughout the year at the Mount Hope Amish auction facility.
After purchasing absolutely all the horse tack and preps, we drove to Mount Hope to score. In record time and at bargain basement prices, we hit one of the many Amish and Mennonite bulk food shops in the area. While browsing the items on the shelves, my husband I stumbled across a huge jar of dried calendula flowers. I knew that the name sounded familiar and that it had uses and was most certainly on our “preps to get” list. Unfortunately, Bobby’s phone was not attached to his belt, but on charge in the truck. He has this whole firefighter-learned “battery false bottom” mantra that he doggedly follows and did not want to go unhook the phone to pull up the list. He figured I should just buy some of the flowers and better educate ourselves on their uses later.
In theory, Bobby’s idea was sound — the buy now, learn later portion; I’m still not convinced about the battery false bottom creation by not completely draining and then fully recharging electronic devices rule. But the Mount Hope Amish bulk food shop had an extreme multitude of dried flowers, stems and roots from which to choose. I surely did not want to waste money on calendula flowers if others jars on the shelf offered far more natural remedy benefits. I reminded Bobby that my thriftiness is one of the many reasons he loves me, threw in a smile and twirled a strand of wavy hair around my finger and suddenly the battery false bottom rule was temporarily suspended.
The vast array of calendula flower uses prompted me to buy a big bag. Just like the horse tack and farm implements we picked up at the Mount Hope auction, the prices at the Amish bulk food store were so reasonable I filled my cart with survival medicine ingredients.
The antibacterial and immunostimulant attributes of the calendula flower aid in healing minor cuts on folks who have compromised immune systems. The plant helps to stimulate collagen production around the wound site and decreases scarring in the process. Mixing some calendula flowers, either fresh or dried, with water and then gargling can help erase the pain caused by a sore throat.
The calendula flower, a member of the marigold family, is widely regarded for its anti-inflammatory properties. Creams and lotions made from the flower petals have been known to help heal acne, ulcers, bedsores, diaper rash, varicose veins, rashes and eczema. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid calendula oil. Taking the oil by mouth has reportedly caused miscarriage concerns.
Calendula oil is used often used as a natural base for salves, creams, herbal ointments, lotions, salves, personal care and non-commercial cosmetics.
Making infused calendula oil is quite simple. Fill a jar with dried flowers and then cover them with your favorite carrier oil. I prefer to use organic olive oil, glycerin or almond oil. Let the mixture stand for about two weeks and then strain out the flowers — they can still be used as a natural medicinal aid. Filter the calendula oil through cheesecloth and then use as needed for external wound care and skin issues.
Massage just a little bit of calendula oil into the ears of pets to kill ear mites. Boil some calendula flower petals, either fresh or dried, in a half a cup of water and use the mixture as a facial once it has cooled enough to gently massage into the skin. Steep some flower petals and use them to make a herbal tea that not only soothes sore throats but is believed to offer stress-reducing benefits as well.
Growing calendula plants is simple. Sow the seeds when the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees — hopefully in the early spring if growing outdoors. Harvest the flowers just after they first open and pluck the petals from the flower head once the head has been allowed to dry. Store the flowers in a dark place to better preserve their medicinal properties. While storing the calendula flowers in a mason jar is fine, placing them in an amber or dark-colored glass container is ideal.
Calendula Salve Recipe
3 ½ oz calendula oil
½ oz beeswax pastilles
Pour the oil and the beeswax pastilles into a heat-proof container. Place the container in a cooking pot holding several inches of luke-warm water. Turn the stove to medium heat and allow the mixture to sit in the pot until the beeswax pastilles have melted. Carefully remove the cooking pot from the stove and pour the mixture into its intended holder. Tins or small glass jars work best. This recipe will yield about 2 oz of salve.
Some doctors recommend ending use of calendula flower remedies two weeks before surgery because when the plant is combined with medications, it can cause extensive drowsiness. If you have an allergic reaction to chrysanthemums, daisies, ragweed or related plants, check with your doctor before using calendula flower in your herbal pharmacy.