By Kylie Westley Naturopathy
Calendula flowers for wellbeing
Calendula flowers are wonderful things. They are easy to grow, self-propagate once established, and are very easy to harvest and use naturopathically. When used as recommended, calendula petals are safe (except for those with a specific allergy to the plant). So, they are a great starting-point for those who are looking to increase their wellbeing autonomy by growing and preparing their own herbal health products.
*Note: Because safety in pregnancy has not been established, calendula should not be taken internally during pregnancy*
Here are the steps and information about calendula:
Growing calendula: The plant you want to grow is Calendula officinalis. This is known as “pot marigold” but it is not the same plant as tagetes marigold; so, step 1 is to check the botanical name on the seed packet/plant you are purchasing. Calendula can be grown in a medium/large pot, which will also accommodate one of the inevitable seedlings that will emerge for perpetuity. You can grow calendula in the veggie garden to boost the health of plants around it, especially beans, lettuce, potato and tomato. You can grow calendula with roses -the two plants seem to do well in each other’s company. Or, you can pop calendula into any spare soil you have as long as it gets some sun each day. It really isn’t fussy. And, it can help with healing wounds, reducing inflammation, colds and ‘flu, ear infections, digestion – it is wonderful.
Harvesting calendula: On a dry morning after the dew has evaporated, remove the flower heads as they open, then either dry them in a paper bag (or old pillow case if you have a lot of them) in a dry dark place or remove the petals for immediate use. If you are drying your calendula, check it every few days and once there is no sign of moisture in the petals (they will be a bit crunchy, but not crumbly), remove them from the flower heads and store them in a clean sterile glass jar out of direct light. If you have any spare moisture absorbers (the ones you get in some packet foods or medications) pop one in the jar. Check after a week – if the petals aren’t properly dry there will be condensation in the jar, in which case pop them back into a paper bag to dry some more.
Using calendula: Calendula is often used for its effects on the skin, both inside and out. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and antiseptic as well as having properties that promote healing and slow down bleeding. It can boost immune function by supporting the lymphatic system and gently promoting sweating.
For wounds, cuts, abrasions, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, ear infections, arthritis:
Put 6 teaspoons dried petals or the petals from 6 fresh flower heads into a bowl then add 300ml boiling water. Cover the bowl for 5-10 minutes then add cool water until the preparation is lukewarm. Apply to the affected area with a clean cloth (or dropper if applying to an ear infection).
For digestive or immune support, colds and ‘flu:
Make a tisane (herbal tea) using 1 teaspoon dried petals or the petals from one flower head per cup boiling water. Let the tisane steep covered for 5-10 minutes then strain and drink when cool enough. Adults can drink up to 3 cups per day. For children 2-12 years use 1 teaspoon of the tisane per kg body weight, up to 3 times daily.
Calendula is recognised as a safe herb that does not have known interactions with medications or supplements, so I am happy to recommend it to you (unless you are pregnant or suspect that you may be). If you want to use other herbs for healing and wellbeing it is worth seeking professional advice, especially if you are taking medications or supplements.
Enjoy your wellbeing journey.
About the author
Kylie Westley began studying and growing herbs as a means of promoting health and wellbeing 20 years ago (plus a bit). She developed and utilized home remedies using herbs from her garden and later formally studied naturopathy through the Australian Institute of Applied Science. She currently practices in Penguin on the stunning North West Coast of Tasmania where she sees private clients and conducts workshops promoting wellbeing autonomy.
For more information on Kylie visit: http://www.kylie-westley-naturopathy.com/