We here in the Northern Hemisphere have just celebrated the summer solstice–the longest day of the year and the beginning (for most of us) of the summer holiday season. All of this sun, mild weather, and blooming gardens have me thinking about calendula (aka marigolds or Calendula officinalis). You’ve probably seen marigolds a hundred times; they’re a common-variety garden flower, after all. But don’t underestimate this humble-looking flower–not only does it keep pests (as in insects or mammals who like to feast on your veg patch while you sleep) away from your garden, but calendula, as an herby-herb, is drying, heating, restorative, and soothing to ulcers and acidic constitutions.
Honestly? It’s such a wicked little plant that there’s never a season not to use it (no matter if the sun is shining or no).
Curious about how to launch this guy from garden to kitchen? Brew up some blossoms (fresh or dried–but if fresh, compost out the center bit and keep just the petals, otherwise the brew will be too bitter to be palatable). Cover and steep a good 15 minutes, up to a tablespoon of herb/cup of just-boiled water. Drink as is, or gargle to heal mouth sores and sore throats. A cup twenty minutes before a meal aids digestion, or use it to soothe (and heal!) heartburn and acid reflux, aid the liver, and inspire elimination (which, as an added bonus, helps heal problem skin and flush excess hormones from the body).
Calendula has a BFF-type relationship with the lymph system. Painful lymph nodes? A stubborn cold that won’t quit? Try calendula tea internally and warm tea compresses externally.
Speaking of external applications—cool your tea and use it to bathe wounds on the skin; calendula fights infection and helps seal and soothe minor cuts, bruises, and burns.
Brewing herbs in the “traditional” way (i.e., tea) isn’t the only method of getting your herbs. We can get some creativity up in here, too; try flower essences, for example. Think about Calendula for a second: warm, round, yellow, almost like a wheel, with the many layers of petals. Now think of the solar plexus chakra—Manipura—or the bright yellow spinning wheel of energy around the navel. This the home to our will, our fire, our digestion, our truth (i.e. gut instinct), and it just so happens that calendula (in traditional herbalism) heals this very area.
Holy coincidence? Yeah, you find that coincidences abound as you travel deeper here. The body and the world around it are holistic, interchanging information all the time—from color to scent to sound.
You can also try calendula oil which is, really, essential oil. It’s kinda stinky (like the flowers are kinda stinky), but it’s mad-effective on scars, wounds, and burns.
So, brew some up and have a happy June! Heck, have a happy summer!
Oh, the name, Calendula, by the way, comes from the same root as calendar. If you’re growing some, take note: you’ll find that this guy does interesting things on new and full moons.
And that’s all I’m saying about that.
(Don’t you just love a little summer intrigue?)