Friday, September 19, 2008


Blurry calendula flowers in my garden; they self-sow prolifically

This is a busy time of year for an herbalist. There are so many herbs just ready to be "put up" into tinctures and oils. It's the time to gather roots, especially. In the next couple of days I hope to harvest some of the yellow dock that has "taken root", literally, all over my yard. I will make an iron tonic with the dock roots and do a post on that when I get it done.

I'm also trying to get the last of the flowers and herb leaves preserved in some way before frost. The chamomile long ago stopped blooming and from one plant I didn't get much to dry for winter teas, so I've ordered 8 ounces more from Mountain Rose Herbs, the favorite herbal company of herbalists I know. I'm drying sage, thinking of that turkey stuffing, and lavender, parsley, thyme, and so much more.
Calendula flowers wilting for 24 hours before I steep them in olive oil

The one thing I've got steeping yet is Calendula flowers in olive oil to make a nice oil to use as a rub. Calendula is great for the lymphatic system. It's a very sunny-looking plant and has a particular affinity for "places where the sun don't shine". This includes the armpit area, full of lymph nodes, and the underwear lines in the pelvic area. You know you have lymphatic stagnation if you feel tenderness in those areas. I get tenderness in my armpits and around my breasts so this oil is for me to use when that happens.
My calendula oil steeping 6 weeks, and putting out "sun rays" to remind us of its sunny disposition (or is that just bad photography?)

The Victorians called Calendula "liquid sunshine" and put the fresh or dried flowers in soups to add nutrients and work as an anti-depressant. It's particularly suited for Seasonal Affective Disorder, known as S.A.D. and occuring in winter when the days are dark. The nutrients in Calendula are good for the immune system and because it helps the flow of lymph that helps to maintain health in general.

You can also make or purchase a Calendula wash which is basically a strong tea. This is particularly good for "cat scratch" type of cuts that are puffy and oozing signifying, again, poor lymphatic draining. Calendula wash is also generally helpful for skin irritations, rashes, bites, dryness, and it helps cool and calm a sunburn.


plantainpatch said...

Ok, you are in Mn, right? Your calendula reseeds? Mine grows great all summer but never seems to reseed itself. You are so much colder than me. hmmmmm.

Enjoying your herb blog so much I added a link.

LisaZ said...

Yes, I'm in Minnesota. I just never get all (or even half) my Calendula harvested and so the extremely prolific seedheads remain on the plant. They drop into the soil and then I get tons and tons of Calendula sprouting up each spring. Too much, really, but I don't have the heart to rip much out. My herb bed is becoming a Calendula patch! LOL

They also seem to fly away on the wings of birds (or other things!) because I find Calendula sprouting up in other beds too. And I leave those alone, as well.

I guess we need the sunshine here!

Matriarchy said...

I didn't grow calendula this year, but I plan to next year. When I grew it in the past, I wasn't aware of its medicinal value - I just thought it looked cheery.

I am also harvesting whatever I can before frost. I have a lot of lemon balm gone to seed, but I am searching out the younger plants that didn't bloom yet.

I have a lot of yarrow regrowth. I cut back my big plants after they bloomed, and now the foliage has come back very full. I want to harvest that and dry it for making winter foot soaks.

I am debating the plantains in the alley. One of the neighbors sprayed some kind of herbicide last year, and I don't know if it liners from year-to-year, or how far it spread from his strip of weeds. The weeds regrew this year. But I don't feel sure about picking the plantains.

Denise said...

I grew calendula for the first time this year and even though I didn't plant all that much, boy did I end up with a ton of them! I've left a lot of the flower heads alone and will let them dry for seed next year, but I do have 2 quart jars of flowers sitting in olive oil. Sunshine in a jar! :)

If your neighbor sprayed chemicals, I would try and find a different place to harvest. I've always been told that you need to wait 2-3 years after a spraying, to let the chemicals dissapate. But just to be safe, don't pick anywhere near his yard.

Christy said...

I struggle with SAD every year so this sounds like the thing for me. How would you suggest taking it for SAD? Tea, tincture?

LisaZ said...

Matriarchy, sorry it too me so long to answer. I agree with what Denise said. Find plantain you know has not been sprayed. That shouldn't be hard to do since it's really everywhere.

Christy--I would use Calendula in whatever way works for you. You could buy a bunch of the flowers (I recommmend ordering from Mountain Rose Herbs online) and use them in soups, teas, whatever. You could also make a tincture--usually I use fresh flowers for that but dried would work in a pinch. I'd say 5-10 drops tincture morning and evening might work. Good luck! I've also found Cod Liver Oil helps immensely with SAD. Also, getting outside a bit every day even in winter.

lovinglandbase said...

great post- i love calendula!

i dried a bunch earlier this year and now i've got some infusing into olive oil right now too.