Skin Power! March 28 2021, 0 Comments

Often confused with regular marigolds you see in folks’ yards, the lovely Calendula flower not only blooms bright and beautiful, but also provides a tasty flare to foods and gives a powerful skin healing punch to salves and other topical skin products.

Plant parts and uses

 The Calendula flower (bulb and petals together) contain powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Extracts from the flowers have historically been used to soothe irritated skin, including wounds, burns, and rashes.  Thought to control bleeding and encourage the development of collagen structures and mucus membranes, the oil, tinctures, and extracts made from Calendula are popular ingredients found in ointments.  It can also be used in a poultice, compress or soak.  Lastly, the flower is high in antioxidants including lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene, quercitin, rutin- which can all help speed up the healing process.

Calendula flower petals can be eaten directly either cooked or raw, but be sure to target those petals that are bright yellow or orange for the best quality.  If making an extract, oil, or tincture, you should include the full flower head, as the medicinal properties found in the flower are mostly found in the flower’s green base.

Most common uses for horses

Calendula is a popular ingredient in salves for horses and can be helpful for alleviating insect irritation, mud fever, blanket rubs, burns and wounds. You can also prepare a tea – steep in hot water for 30-60 minutes- and apply a compress to red, itchy, raised irritations to help reduce inflammation and speed healing.   For general anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory support, and to add a little brightness to your feed pan, you can also feed the whole dried flower directly; horses find them very palatable.

Home grown

Calendula is a very easy herb to grow and typically flowers in July through October with bright beautiful 6-12” flowers. It is typically an annual unless you live in more temperate climates, where it can be a short-lived perennial. Plant the herb in non-draining soil in full or partial sun in the spring.  Once blooming, be sure to pick the flowers every three days or so to prolong the flowering season.  Once you’ve harvested the flowers, set them out to dry so that the petals are crunchy, roughly ten days. 

 

This is a re-print from the Herb Blurb Column I wrote in Equine Wellness Magazine, one of the largest publications in North America focused on natural and alternative therapies for horses. https://equinewellnessmagazine.com/