There are many varieties out there, but the one most commonly used for medicinal purposes is Calendula officinalis, or pot marigold. It should be in every mama's herbal first aid kit for sure - homeopathic pills; dried for use in infusions and poultices; and in the form of lotions, creams or oils. It is ideal anytime there is inflammation of the skin, bleeding, an open wound, bruising, strains, minor burns & scalds, and fungal infections.
One of the easiest and most effective ways of using calendula is as a wash or rinse to help heal any irritation of the skin. Lately we've been using this in our household on the babes any time we see the first signs of a diaper rash coming on, as well as under the double chin when the "neck cheese" (as a friend so perfectly described it!) has been fermenting too long and starts to form a rash.
The steps are very simple.
|Take a small handful of dried calendula.|
|Pour boiling water over it and let it steep 10 minutes.|
Dip a clean cloth in the infusion and apply to wherever is needed. It does not need to be rinsed off afterwards.
The infusion can be strained and kept in a sterile container for a few days to be used on cuts and bruises, rashes and skin irritations - seriously this can help with almost anything external! It can also be used as an antibacterial face wash - really helpful for oily or acne prone skin. Or similarly can be sprayed or dabbed on the face after washing as a cleansing antibacterial toner. Likewise it could be kept in a spray bottle next to a changing station to help prevent diaper rash.
Discard once the liquid starts getting cloudy.
Dried calendula is easily found in herbal shops and is pretty inexpensive. A few local shops here in Seattle that I really love and highly recommend are Rainbow Natural Remedies in Capitol Hill (on 15th across from the QFC) and Dandelion Botanical Company in Ballard (on Ballard Ave).
It is also one of the easiest herbs to cultivate at home in your very own garden, although if you plan on drying the flowers yourself care must be taken that they dry completely without growing any mold. The flowers or just the petals can be collected any time from early summer through early fall. They can be used immediately or dried. Dry them in a well-ventilated area in the shade and check for any discoloration, which would suggest molding.