We work with so many amazing plants in our studio and we're excited to offer up more information about them here on the journal. And what better way to start off than with a very beloved, vibrant flower...
Meet Calendula. Calendula officinalis, to be exact. This bright orange flower looks like sunshine embodied, and it's one of our favorite medicinal plants at Portland Apothecary. If you're new to herbal medicine, this is a great plant to makes friends with. It's safe for pretty much everyone to use and easy to grow in most gardens, where it'll spread itself happily. Sometimes people overlook the common plants around us in favor of more exotic-sounding herbs, but it's truly a wonderful thing to grow and gather medicine in our own backyards. Sometimes the humblest, most accessible remedies are the best.
And of course, just because it's humble doesn't mean Calendula isn't a very, very powerful healer. It is. The blossoms contain anti-inflammatory resins that are renowned for bringing soothing relief to dry, itchy or inflamed skin. Pretty nice, right? It gets even better. Calendula also promotes skin cell regeneration, meaning it won't just nurture your skin, it'll actually help it repair itself. We find it very useful to aid the healing of scars, scratches, and minor wounds. It's gentle enough for all skin types, while still being very effective, making it a popular healing herb for children and adults alike. There's hardly a skin-care product we don't put it in.
And how exactly do we get Calendula into our products? We start by harvesting the blossoms from both the Portland Apothecary garden and Elie's dad's farm in California. It's best to pick them at the height of day, when the healing resins are most potent. Once we've gently dried the flowers, we infuse them into organic olive oil, which turns a beautiful shade of orange as it captures the medicinal properties.
If you have any sunny garden space, we encourage you to plant a few Calendula seeds. They grow easily and are such an uplifting sight. The flowers are also high in flavanoids and you might try using them in cooking to add splashes of color and vibrancy. (Calendula was once known as the "poor man's saffron.") The petals make a striking, beautiful addition to salads or homemade crackers.
One last word: while it's true that Calendula is very gentle and safe for most people to use, it is in the Asteraceae family, along with daisies and ragweed. If you have intense allergies to those plants, use caution. It's always a good idea to perform patch tests before putting anything new all over your skin.