Beautiful to look at in full bloom, the sunny orange calendula – also known as marigold – has a wealth of herbal uses that are worth learning about.
With both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, the fresh petals can be infused in boiling water, then cooled to clean minor wounds and treat conditions such as mouth ulcers or sore gums. Gargling with the infusion can soothe a sore throat and rolling a ball of petals between your fingers and applying directly to insect bites or nettle stings can be really effective in numbing the discomfort.
It’s worth, however, gathering the petals and drying them in the sun, or in an airy, warm place to harness even more of the properties of these brilliantly colored flowers. Making your own calendula tincture or resinous extract is straightforward and rewarding. Easily stored, it’s a powerhouse addition to your herbal medicine cabinet.
Around 50g dried calendula petals
Grain alcohol to cover – between 500 – 700 ml (the key ingredient, it works better than oil)
- Pack the calendula (not too tightly) into a suitable, clean container and pour over the alcohol. Stir gently and keep out of direct sunlight for two weeks, mixing and pressing with the spoon gently every two or three days.
- Strain the liquid through a muslin cloth into a wide, clean dish, squeezing the contents to extract as much of the calendula essence as possible.
- Cover with foil or a cloth, ensuring that the cloth does not touch the contents of the dish. Now leave until the alcohol starts to evaporate. The rate at which the liquid which start to reduce will vary according to temperature and humidity, but will take around 1 – 2 weeks on average.
- Keep checking – if you want to strain and bottle the tincture then do so while the extract is still liquid and not too viscous.
- If you prefer to make a stickier resinous extract, then wait until all of the alcohol has evaporated, and you are left with a glossy residue, which you can then spoon into a cosmetic-type jar.
Storage and Shelf Life
Both will have a long shelf life of 2 – 3 years if kept in brown/green glass or opaque containers and stored out of direct sunlight. Never take or administer any medicines or treatment without the approval of a health-care advisor, but traditional remedies include diluting drops of the tincture in water to treat ear infections, low fever or other ailments.
People report dabbing the resin directly onto minor wounds for pain relief and healing, using the tincture as an immune system booster and to support healthy liver function. There are so many uses for calendula extract and it’s worth doing some in-depth research to learn more about the potency and potential of this remarkable plant.
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