Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
At first I regarded the intensely orange calendula as a garden flower. It self-seeds readily, flowers through the summer and is an easy plant to grow. But as the years passed, my Very First Garden Ever turned slowly from a test field (“learn by trial and error” seems to be my preferred method) to a decorative-and edible garden and now the healing aspect is taking over. And healing is precisely what calendula does.
Calendula has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It promotes the healing of your skin, so it is great for healing (sun)burns, cuts and scrapes and soothes rashes.
Taken internally, as a tea, it calms heart palpitations, soothes the guts and heals wounds and irritations. It is even mentioned as an anti-tumor herb*.
Just by looking at calendula I can see/sense it is bursting with vitality and joy.
If you have calendula in your garden, you’re lucky! Harvest the open flowerheads in the morning, after the dew has dried up. At the end of the season let calendula flowers mature and go to seed. Save seed or let your plant self-seed itself. As with all plants, treat calendula with respect and gratitude. Give it water in dry seasons, and a sunny spot were it can spread out. It will grow a long stem that lies on the ground with side stems and plenty of flowers.
You can make calendula oil by putting the fresh or dried petals in a jar and covering them with jojoba-, olive- or almond oil. Cover the jar with a cheesecloth and put it in a sunny place for two to three weeks. Sieve through a cheesecloth and pour in a clear jar with a lid. Label and store in a cool, dry place.
This is a great base oil for any skin improving ointments you may wish to make, or use it as is.
If you are in a hurry, you can also warm the oil gently in a double boiler / au bain marie, sprinkle the petals in, let the water simmer (not boil!) on a gentle heat for a minimum of 20 minutes and allow to cool. Then sieve through a cheesecloth as above.
* V. Raipala-Cormier; Luontoäidin kotiapteekki (1997, Finland)