Sunday, July 20, 2014

Herbs & Oils: Calendula (aka 'Marigold)

How to Make Your Own Calendula Salve 

Gotta admit; calendula is one of my very favorite herbs. I love the cheerful yellowish orange petals (so pretty!) and I love what it does for our skin. It has a powerful reputation as a healing herb. 

Stick with me here while I tell you a little bit about the herb itself, and at the end, I’ll show you how you can use calendula in your own home. First a little bit of background – I find it oh so helpful to know the history of the ingredients I use in making body and bath products. Calendula is a member of the marigold family. Calendula is the Latin name for the European marigold, and its name comes from the Latin word calendae, meaning ‘first day of the month’. 

 Marigolds (from “Mary’s Gold”) were traditionally considered ‘golden gifts’ offered to the Virgin by the poor, who couldn’t afford to offer cold, hard metal gold. They were also lovingly planted throughout the ages in dedicated Mary’s Gardens. Marigolds are seen often as symbolic of passion and creativity, and have been used as love charms and woven into wedding garlands. In some traditions, marigold petals are added into sleep pillows to encourage psychic dreams. 

In traditional herbal medicine, calendula has been used for centuries to heal wounds and skin irritations. Its anti-inflammatory, astringent, antifungal and antiviral properties make it an excellent herb for healing minor wounds and inflammations of the skin. You can read more about all the super cool healing things our colorful herb does by visiting Mountain Rose's Blog

 I add calendula petals to my Dog Poo shampoo bars for gentle exfoliating action to keep those canine babies clean and healthy. And I love to infuse avocado or apricot kernel oil with calendula petals and use it in lotions and creams. Or sometimes I just use the infused oil itself, straight from the bottle, wherever there’s a patch of skin that needs help.   You can make your own calendula salve. I’ll admit; I’m taking the easy way out here – I’m giving you a helpful, handy-dandy link to click on instead of walking you through a spiffy photo shoot I set up myself. But I like this recipe, and the directions are super simple and easy to follow, so why not just share? 


 That's all there is to it; honest. If ya' get stuck, message me through my Etsy site (I'm a bit leery about putting my email addy out here) and I'll do my best to help you out. I think you should go for it. 

(Note: This information is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to prescribe, treat, prevent, or diagnose any disease or condition.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Herbs & Oils: Peppermint

Peppermint & Hades:  

The Greek Connection

One of the many myths surrounding this aromatic herb tells the story of the questionably charming Hades seducing a lovely young nymph named Menthe.  His wife, Persephone (who only actually lived with Hades throughout the fall and winter months, spending the spring and summer months with her Earth Goddess mama, Demeter), understandably was not amused, and turned poor Menthe into a plant that people would constantly walk on.  Well, this ticked Hades off, and he embued Menthe with a lovely fragrance so that whenever peppermint was crushed, the wonderful aroma would remind people of just how beautiful and wonderful Menthe was, before she became a herb.  One can only wonder what Persephone's next move was.
(image by Wioletta Szczepanska)

The Herbal Lowdown

In any case, the lovely peppermint/Menthe has a long and varied history.  The ancient Egyptians used it at least as far back as 1,000 BC and the Romans grew peppermint in their gardens for decorative, digestive, and aromatic purposes.

Peppermint is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint, and is now grown widely through the world.  Most people think of peppermint when they think of mint - it's a fragrance that evokes memories of holidays and celebration and it is very popular in Middle Eastern culinary recipes. 

According to Mountain Rose Herbs, it is one of the most popular herbs used in teas, candies and chewing gums.  Its refreshing, energizing and stimulating properties are used for a variety of medicinal applications, and in aromatherapy, peppermint is used to increase alertness and stamina.  It has been considered by some to have aphrodisiac qualities.  That last bit said, because of its other properties, it's not usually the aroma of choice to lull one into sleep, after the lovin'.  It's more of a morning wake-me-up fragrance. 

It should be noted that as with all medicines, peppermint oil should be used with discretion.  It can be over-stimulating to sensitive skin and should not be used during pregnancy

Note:  This information is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to prescribe, treat, prevent, or diagnose any disease or condition.