Podcast 153: Grow Your Own Calendula This Year

We’re lucky that nowadays there are a lot of herb suppliers, so it’s convenient to purchase the majority of your herbs – especially if you live in a place where you don’t really have space to grow a garden. But there’s something really special about working with herbs that you’ve grown yourself. And, some herbs are really quite easy to grow – like calendula. So now that spring is on the way, let’s make a plan to grow your own calendula this year!

Calendula is easy to grow from seed, so it’s a great choice for new gardeners. The herb isn’t too picky about growing conditions, though it does want to get a good amount of sunlight every day. A large pot or a bucket of soil on the porch, or a window box, will do just fine for growing calendula.

It’s a very productive plant. You can harvest flower heads every day, and every day the plant will make new ones! So even from a small patch, you can gather enough medicine to be useful.

Once you’ve grown it, you can make some herbal remedies with calendula. It’s an excellent lymphatic herb, a wound-healer, a liver-protector, and a gentle but powerful antimicrobial (especially good for fungal skin infections). Calendula can help with edema and other stagnation patterns, and it’s a key ingredient in our gut-heal tea.

So there you go: plenty of reasons to grow your own calendula this year!

Just this week we wrapped up filming for our Integumentary (Skin) Health course – and calendula is a major star herb in this course! We cover acne, eczema, psoriasis, various infections, and lots more. The course is delivered by video in our interactive learning platform, and you get access to weekly Q&A sessions with Ryn & Katja.

As always, please subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen, so others can find it more easily. Thank you!!

Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.

This episode was sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs. We thank them for their support!

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Episode Transcript

Katja (00:13):
Hi, I’m Katja.

Ryn (00:15):
And I’m Ryn.

Katja (00:15):
And we’re here at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ryn (00:20):
And on the internet everywhere thanks to the power of the podcast. Hey, it’s calendula time.

Katja (00:26):
It is calendula time. Well, okay. It’s not quite calendula time. We need to wait for another few minutes. But I want to talk this week about growing your own calendula.

Ryn (00:36):
Yeah. We were plotting and scheming what our next episode would be. And you came up with this brilliant idea.

Katja (00:42):
Yeah. I’m really excited about it. So here’s the thing. It’s really convenient to purchase the majority of your herbs, especially if you live in a place where you don’t really have space to grow a garden. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There are so many great herb suppliers now, and you can get really good quality herbs that way. But it’s also really important to grow something every year.

Ryn (01:08):
It’s rewarding.

Katja (01:10):
It is.

Ryn (01:10):
Yeah. You feel a kind of a special connection to your medicines.

Katja (01:14):
Yeah. So now that spring is on the way, I propose that we all get together and make a plan to grow some calendula together this year. That is, that’s what I want to talk about.

Ryn (01:25):
Yeah. So we’re going to do it. But first we’re going to remind you that we are not doctors. We are herbalists and holistic health educators.

Katja (01:32):
The ideas discussed in this podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses herbalists in the United States. So these discussions are for educational purposes only.

Ryn (01:44):
And we want to remind you that good health doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. Good health doesn’t exist as an objective standard. It’s influenced by your individual needs, experiences, and goals. So we’re not trying to present some kind of dogmatic right way that you should adhere to.

Katja (02:00):
Yeah. Everybody’s body is different. So the things that we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you. But we hope that they’ll give you some good information to think about, and some ideas to research further

Ryn (02:10):
Finding your way to better health is both your right and your own personal responsibility. This doesn’t mean you’re alone on the journey. But it does mean that the final decision when you’re considering any course of action, whether that’s discussed on the internet or prescribed by a physician, is always yours to make. Yeah. Okay.

Katja (02:29):
Well also we just want to say how grateful we are that Mountain Rose Herbs is sponsoring our podcast. And, you know, when I was just starting out as an herbalist, there really weren’t very many teachers in the United States. There were like 25, I think, across the country. I’m trying to count. There really was not very many at all. So if you wanted to learn from a teacher in a different part of the country, one of the best ways, or like actually kind of the only way, to do that was to go to herb conferences in the summer. And this is where Mountain Rose Herbs comes in. Because although today you can learn from herbalists all over the country and the world thanks to the internet, back then we depended on herb conferences, and the herb conferences depended on Mountain Rose Herbs. Because Mountain Rose sponsored all of these conferences so that they could afford to make the upfront payments required to book the conference space and all the stuff you have to pay for ahead of time, so that we could all come together at these conferences every summer. Which was not just a way for us to move our education forward, but also a way for us to build community among a far flung group of people. So at that time, you know, Mountain Rose made sure that we all got our herbs, but they also were making sure that we had these events to come together. It was kind of like they supplied the education and community for us, as well as the herbs.

Ryn (04:03):
Pretty great. Yeah. And since today we’re going to be talking about growing calendula, and proposing that we can all grow it together. Make it like a distributed community event. So we just want to mention that Mountain Rose actually has calendula seeds in stock right now. And it turns out that they actually carry a whole line of seeds for medicinal plants that you could grow at home. All of them coming from the company Strictly Medicinal Seeds, which is really excellent.

Katja (04:31):
Yeah, their stuff is great.

Ryn (04:31):
And a long reputation of being fantastic. So yeah, if you were needing to place an herb order, you could also get some seed packets too.

Katja (04:41):
Yes. Get some calendula, because I want to get growing. I want us to grow calendula together.

Ryn (04:49):
Yeah. But why? Why should we grow this lovely golden sun-powered plant?

Katja (04:57):
Well, first off, like, I mean, okay. This I guess kind of applies to any plant that you grow, but being in relationship with your plants is really important. And it’s not necessarily necessary to be in relationship with every single plant that you work with. Like some of the plants just won’t grow where you live. So it’s not necessary to grow every single plant that you are going to work with. But growing at least one of them gives you a completely different perspective on the relationship that you have with plants. And instead of just thinking about what can this plant do for me, or how do I use this plant, or what are its benefits, the things that people typically ask. Instead, it is what can you do for the plant? Like instead you have the chance to be in service to this plant. And that is a really amazing way to expand the way that we think about all plants, and especially have a relationship with this one specific plant.

Ryn (06:10):
Yeah. You can carry the water for the plants very literally. And just seeing a plant grow from seed. Coming by every day to give it some attention and give it some love, give it water, nourishment, whatever it requires. Seeing it grow up. And then when those first flower buds start to form, and you’re like, oh, here they come. You go back the next day and they’ve opened up in the sunlight. And it’s just this beautiful flower. And, well, not just one flower, because that’s one of the nice things about calendula. And one of the reasons we wanted to focus on it here is that it provides a really abundant harvest.

Katja (06:48):
Yeah. You don’t need very many plants to have very many flowers.

Ryn (06:53):
Yeah. You know, it’s also quite easy to grow. It’s quite forgiving. Some plants you want to grow them, and if you want to grow them from seed, it’s like, okay. You’ve got to like rub them with sandpaper, and then keep them in the fridge. But not too wet and not too cold. And then you need to get them out into the trays, and keep them there for a while under a grow lamp. And then, you know, when it’s the right day and the bird flies by then you can put them in the dirt outside. And that’s great. And getting into that can be really fun and rewarding of course. But it’s nice when you’re starting out or when you’re not really feeling super confident about the greenness of your thumb to have a plant that makes it easy for you or makes it easy with you to grow.

Katja (07:37):
Yeah. Calendula doesn’t ask for much. It does want sun. But beyond that, it’ll grow in the dirt in the ground if you have space for a garden. But it will also grow in a bucket. It’ll grow in a window box. It’ll pretty much grow any place that you give it space to grow. So I really appreciate that.

Here’s How We Plant It

Ryn (07:58):
Yeah. So here’s how we do it. You can get calendula seedlings at a local nursery if you want to. But honestly, you don’t even have to. Like we’ve been saying, this one’s easy to grow from seed.

Katja (08:11):
So if you accept the challenge, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is get yourself a packet of calendula seeds. And once there is no more threat of frost, which is going to be a different time for everyone. For some places that could be April. Here in in Boston, and also when I was living in Vermont, usually I would sow the seeds not earlier than mid-May, but really even like the first week of June, depending on the year. So depending on where you live, watch your weather. Plan accordingly, but sometime between April, mid-April, and the first week of June is when you’re going to go out there with your seeds.

Ryn (08:56):
So yeah, if you have some ground space that you can grow in, remember that you do need to be a spot that’s going to get some good sunlight. But if you’ve got that, all you really need to do is kind of disturb the dirt a little bit and put the seeds in. You don’t need to be chopping the soil down eight inches.

Katja (09:14):
Yeah, we don’t need a rototiller, like none of that. Just like a fork, really.

Ryn (09:19):
Yeah. So putting the seeds in, and then just a light layer, a sprinkle of some dirt on top of them. You don’t have to put them deep down into their own little holes or anything like that. You just want enough of a dirt cover that they’re not going to dry out or blow away. Y

Katja (09:35):
And if you don’t have space in the ground to have a garden, either because you rent or where you live there just isn’t a yard or whatever, that is okay. Just get yourself a pot or a window box, or honestly a bucket. Seriously, gardening in Home Depot buckets, or maybe you have a Lowe’s whatever, like those hardware store buckets, you know?

Ryn (09:58):
Yeah, like five gallon.

Katja (10:00):
Yeah. It is a great way to garden. So if you get a pot that’s intended for gardening, it probably already has drainage holes. And a window box probably has drainage holes too. But if you’re going to garden in a bucket then you’re going to need some drainage holes in it. So, if you have a drill, or if not a hammer and a nail, to create a few drainage holes in the bottom. And if you really want to be fancy, you can put like a handful of gravel in the bottom as well, just for a little extra drainage.

Ryn (10:35):
You know, fancy gravel.

Katja (10:37):
No, like you could skip that step completely. But maybe you have some gravel along the house in some edging or something. Just get a handful of it and toss it in the bucket. And then fill the bucket up with dirt, or fill it three quarters of the way full of dirt. And then we’re going to do exactly the same. You’re just going to put the seeds right there on top of the dirt, and then put a little sprinkle of dirt on top. Just like a little lightweight blanket to tuck them in so that they don’t blow away or dry up or anything like that.

Ryn (11:11):
Yeah, for sure. So wherever you put your seeds in, again, make sure that you’re going to get good sun. This is actually a reason why the bucket is a nice idea sometimes. You know, if you have a bit of yard, maybe you haven’t grown things there before. But you know, you could have just moved this year and got a new spot. And you’re like, all right, well, I want to get them started, but I’m not sure where the sun’s going to be four months from now.

Katja (11:32):
Right. Because it is different.

Ryn (11:34):
Yeah. So if you have a bucket, then you can just move it as the sun moves. Try different spots in the yard or different sides of the porch or whatever.

Katja (11:41):
Right. Literally you could like put it in your driveway if you have to. Like wherever. All right. So then from here on out the plant is actually going to do most of the work. And your job is going to be to watch your plants. So calendula doesn’t actually need to be watered every day. Calendula can handle some dry days. But if it’s going to be dry for several days in a row, then you’ll want to make sure to give them a drink of water.

Ryn (12:13):
And if you live in a super dry spot, you know, then this may be a more daily kind of intervention for you. Our ecosystem has a decent amount of water in it and humidity and all of that. So, they’ve been quite tolerant. But if you were like in Arizona, perhaps.

Katja (12:29):
Maybe you would water them a little more.

Ryn (12:31):
Yeah. Seems likely.

A Sit Spot Practice to Watch It

Katja (12:32):
The way that you’re going to know the right amount of water is to just look at your plant every day. And when it starts to sag or when the leaves start to droop just a little, that’s when it wants a drink of water. And so if it’s not going to rain that day, then go on out and give it some water. And if you are already doing a sit spot practice then you can make your sit spot with your calendula. And if you’re not already doing a sit spot practice, then let us tell you about that.

Ryn (13:09):
Yeah, yeah. So sit spot is a really great way to practice nature connection, practice skills of observation. And it’s really, really valuable for a whole host of reasons. The idea with a spit spot is that you have somewhere that you can go every day for about 20 minutes. To go there, to sit down, get comfortable, and then just kind of settle in and become quiet and still internally to the extent that you’re able, and to be still externally. And then to observe what happens around you. So in a very natural environment, like often the forest somewhere, around that 20-minute time is when the animals and all the denizens of the forest have kind of watched you, observed you, and acknowledge that you’re not really going to seem like a threat right now. So they can go back to whatever they were doing before you tromped on in. But that threshold is also about the same range of time that the peak benefits of forest immersion or forest bathing really come into play as well. So,

Katja (14:14):
Or in this case, calendula-in-a-bucket bathing.

Ryn (14:17):
Exactly. Yeah. So, you know, when we do this in the garden or in your little set of pots on the porch or wherever you are, then you can be observing that one plant. And doing this consistently is going to help a lot with your skills of observation, plant identification. Even if you’re not studying botany and keeping the terminology in your mind and everything, looking closely at plants, doing that consistently, it really does teach you a lot about how to look at a plant, how to observe a plant, how to see the differences from one plant and another. And as you see your calendula plant grow and change, and how the leaf shape alters from a tiny little plant to the full grown version, you’re going to get really, really good at knowing that plant and identifying it in all stages of growth when you see it later in your life,

Katja (15:07):
This is also a really fabulous way to meditate, especially if you’re a person that has trouble with traditional ways of meditation. If your mind tends to wander or something. I really like this kind of meditation because you have a focus. The focus is the plant. And it’s fine if your mind kind of wanders off a little bit as you’re observing the plant. There’s a lot of space for your mind in the context of being with your plant. You can look at the leaves. You can look at the buds. You can look at the dirt and see, oh, look, there’s an ant there and whatever else. And actually seeing that there’s an ant there is valuable because you’re not just noticing the plant, but you’re also noticing the whole community that that plant lives in. And which bugs live with that plant, and which ones don’t seem to be hurting the plant at all, and which ones maybe seem to be nibbling. So, there’s just a lot to take in. And that can help if you’re a person with a very busy mind to just provide you with focus. And it can make the art of meditation a little less frustrating and definitely really rewarding.

Ryn (16:28):
Yeah. Okay. Well, so while you were meditating your calendula was growing. And once it gets to the stage where it’s starting to form flower buds, then you definitely want to be extra attentive. You want to come out and visit that plant at least once a day just to see what’s going on. And then when they’re fully formed and you’ve got flowers present right there on the plant, then what you want to do is go ahead out every day and pull the flower heads off as soon as they open.

Harvesting and Replicating the Flowers

Katja (17:00):
To be honest, I usually clip them with scissors. Sometimes I just sort of put a finger, like my first finger and second finger, on either side of the stem and just pop straight up. But sometimes I do just use scissors because I don’t want to pull too hard on the plant and disturb the roots. And so sometimes the flowers pop right off and sometimes not as much. So whichever one feels more comfortable for you, you can take scissors or you can just pop them right off, whichever one works. But really grab them as soon as they open. If you’re checking every day, then you’ll see like, hey, this one was not here yesterday. And if you grab them as soon as they open and have a little while to be in the sunlight. And then just go ahead and take them, then that is like at their peak of freshness.

Ryn (17:58):
Yeah. I mean, if it works for your schedule and everything, it’d be great to be gathering in the middle of the day, when the sun is high and the plant has had a chance to kind of dry off from the morning dew and all of that. That’ll be the ideal time.

Katja (18:13):
Now towards the end of the season, the blooming season is more than a month. You’ll get flowers every day for more than a month. And so even if you only have one or two or three plants, you’re going to get a ton of flowers.

Ryn (18:28):
Right. It’s not like the plant will grow, and it will say this is my one flower for the year. I’m good. No, no. When you pull those flowers off, the plant will say, all right, better make more flowers. And it does it fast.

Katja (18:40):
Yeah, it’s pretty astounding actually. So towards the end of the season, as you’re getting into September and maybe even October depending on where you live, it’ll be different in different parts of the country, but here September and even a little to October, I couldn’t believe it. We were still getting flowers when we got the first snow this year. But leave some of the flowers on towards the end, because when you leave the flower there and let the flower go through its whole cycle, and go ahead and die and don’t clip it, then that actually is when those flowers are going to produce seeds. So that’s going to give you the seeds for the following year. I mean, of course you can buy seeds again. But it’s fun to try to let the plant continue itself.

Ryn (19:33):
Yeah, yeah. And seed saving is, again, it can be just a practical thing. Okay, now I don’t have to buy these seeds anymore. You can grow your own and keep that going. But there is also an aspect of that kind of meditative quality or that sort of spiritual connection, even, to the plant. You are serving that plant. You are literally carrying its genetic information forward in the world. And that plant went to a lot of trouble to produce those little packets of info and put them out there into the planet. So seed saving, seed keeping is really important in a lot of medicinal traditions and spiritual traditions as well, all around the world.

Katja (20:15):
It’s almost like a covenant, right? Like I’m going to give you a lot of flowers, and many of them can be in service to your health, but some of them need to be in service to the continuation of my progeny, you know? And so yeah, I like to think about it that way. So when it goes through the cycle, and it produces its seeds, then just leave that seed pod on the plant until the whole plant is dead late in the fall. And then you can go ahead and spread the seeds into your bucket. Cover them with just a little cover of dirt so that they don’t dry up or have any risk of flying away, like blowing away through the winter. You can even put a few dead leaves on the top of your bucket from whatever tree you have around. And in the spring you can pull them back off again. But a couple of handfuls of leaves onto the top of your bucket, just as like a little protector to sort of keep everything nice. It’s also, if you’re growing in a bucket, it’s great for the winter to put it on the sunny side of the house right up against the house. Because that’ll help to keep it just a couple degrees warmer than the ambient temperature.

Tincturing Over Time

Ryn (21:38):
Yeah. Well, okay. So as we’ve gone along the season there, we’ve been gathering all of these flowers every day. So what are we going to do with them? So our preference here is actually to make a tincture. And a lot of this has to do with the way that we’re gathering these flowers, and with the assumption here that we don’t have a 40 foot row of calendula plants, and we’re going to be coming in with like a bushel basket of calendula flowers every day. If you have that, that’s fantastic. But if you only have, you know, a window box or a five gallon bucket and you’re growing calendula flowers on there, you’ll be gathering plenty of them each day. But in order for them to provide the best for you, tincture is really effective. And the reason is because you can just gather them, drop them into the tincture jar, and let it hang out there. And it doesn’t have to be that you need a full jar full before you can start.

Katja (22:36):
Right. Like every day, let’s say you have three calendula plants. Every day you’ll get somewhere between three and nine flowers, and that’s fine. You just bring them in the house, toss them into your jar with alcohol. And every day you’ll just put in more flowers until the jar is full. So, and because you put the alcohol in right from the start, the flowers are preserving right from the start. So you don’t have to worry about them going bad. You’re just adding more and more to them every day.

Ryn (23:12):
Right. Yeah. So with the alcohol, it’s just going to preserve it. And there’s no question about like, oh, did we get all the last bits of moisture evaporated from that plant before we put it in there? It’s fine. Yeah. So, yeah, that would be our preference there.

Katja (23:28):
If you were going to do this, then what I like to do, and what you might also like, is to do half vodka and half everclear or grain alcohol or whatever you can get in your area. And that makes the total alcohol content about 75%. Regular vodka would be about 40%, between 40 and 50%, but calendula has a high resin content. And though the resins really need a higher percentage of alcohol – you could go even higher than 75%, but higher than that, I find a little irritating – so mixing some grain alcohol with some vodka can get the alcohol content higher than what it would normally be. And that’s going to be really great for getting that resin out.

Ryn (24:26):
Yes. And if you’re wondering what resin content in a flower really means, well, this is one of those reasons to grow calendula. This is one of, not enormous, but a variety of herbs that have a really high resin content to them. And it’s super easy to tell with calendula, because when you go out and you gather the flowers from it, your fingers are going to get all sticky. And that stickiness is the resin content, just like the stickiness of pine resin, you know, where a tree has a wound. Or myrrh, a lot of us encounter myrrh where it’s already been dried a long time and it’s these little pebbles. But myrrh exuding from the tree is a sticky resin just like that. So, yeah, so we do prefer those higher alcohol percentages when we’re extracting resins. That’s going to get it out into the tincture much more effectively. If your alcohol content was too low, you would just risk leaving some of that behind. And it wouldn’t be as potent, especially for antimicrobial qualities.

Katja (25:22):
Right. Those resins are really where the immune boosting action comes from. Those resins do immune functions for the plant, regardless of what plant is making them. And so that’s a really important aspect that we want to capture.

Ryn (25:43):
Yeah. So essentially this is like a slow rolling, add as you go kind of a tincturing maceration process. Yeah. And it works out great. You can make quite a lot of tincture in this method.

Katja (25:56):
Yeah. This past year we had space in a neighborhood garden, and I grew a row of calendula that was like maybe six feet long. It really wasn’t that big. And ended up with almost a half a gallon of tincture. And we also did dry some of the calendula too. We had enough to also run one dehydrator full.

Ryn (26:26):
Yeah. And you know, also if you’re not sure how much you’re going to end up with, that’s fine. You can start with a small jar today, put in your first batch of flower heads. Put in some alcohol in there. And then add more each day. Add alcohol if you need to, to keep everything submerged and all that. And if you need to transfer to a bigger jar down the line, it’s easy. Open it up and pour.

Katja (26:48):
I did that. Yeah. I started with a quart size jar and I had to move up to the half gallon jar. Yeah, it was fine.

Ryn (26:53):
Yeah. Or have several jars going, you know. It’s very forgiving, this process. Well then you’ll have a bunch of calendula tincture.

Working with Tincture

Katja (27:00):
Yes. So let’s talk about what you might want to do with that. One of my favorite things is, especially with calendula tincture, is for dealing with sinus infections. I kind of get a lot of sinus infections. That is my kind of standard way to get a cold. And they start off, I always know when one is happening, because the roof of my mouth gets really itchy. And then like a day or two later, I will start to get the runny nose and the congestion and all that stuff. And if right away, when I noticed that the roof of my mouth is getting itchy, if I take calendula tincture several times a day. And just put a squirt in my mouth and then sort of like rub my tongue up against the roof of my mouth, so that I’m like kind of rubbing the tincture into the top of my mouth. It absorbs very quickly that way. And it is my favorite way to knock out a sinus infection. I just can’t say enough about how fantastic it is.

Ryn (28:13):
Hmm. Yeah. Well, okay. Pretty fantastic there. Other things that calendula tincture can help out for include gut issues. Particularly where there’s a lot of bloating impacting the gut, calendula tincture can be very, very helpful. And you can sometimes even see it if you have a lot of fluid around the belly and it’s all stagnating there. It could be the after effects of a food allergy that you ate and weren’t aware of. It could come from gut dysbiosis or other problems. But where there is that kind of excess fluid around the belly, calendula really helps to stir that up and drain it out. So that’s quite helpful.

Katja (28:55):
In fact, calendula provides that lymphatic support in many ways. Any place in the body, especially through the trunk and the legs, where we’ve got stagnant or boggy situations. Like any kind of edema, or maybe it’s not all the way to edema, but still like when you take your socks off, there’s a little like mark there. Any of that kind of thing, calendula really stimulates lymphatic function. It’s just super helpful.

Ryn (29:27):
Right. Yeah. Excess fluid retention essentially. Calendula is really going to help to say, okay, what of this fluid do we need to keep? What can we get rid of? And should we redistribute these fluids a little bit so it’s not all kind of stuck in one spot. Yeah. Really helps with that kind of movement in the system. Calendula is also a really nice liver support herb. It’s what we’d call a hepatoprotective plant that can reduce inflammation and reduce damage to the liver from, well, all kinds of things. Exposures to pollutants or toxins in our environments, but also things that can stress the liver or give it extra work to do like eating a whole lot of sugar in a day or consuming your food allergens with abandon. These things do put a bit of an extra load on the liver. And calendula is a really nice herb here because it’s appropriate for a really wide array of states affecting the liver. It’s mildly stimulating, but it’s not so activating that it would be contra-indicated for somebody with an inflamed liver condition. Some of our stronger liver stimulants, we wouldn’t want to work with there, because you could actually kind of irritate that and make it a little worse. But calendula is going to get movement in the liver where it’s really sluggish. It’s going to calm down inflammation where it’s overexcited or overactive. And it’s just a very gentle supportive kind of a plant.

Katja (30:59):
So then, you know, another place that calendula turns up in daily life for me is that I like to keep a bottle of calendula tincture in the bathroom. And if I notice a pimple, then I’ll just put like one drop of tincture on my pinky finger and rub it right in to that spot that is trying to become a pimple. And when I do that right away then it doesn’t become a pimple, or maybe it does, but it’s really small and much less noticeable than it would have been otherwise.

Ryn (31:33):
Yeah. And the calendula there, you know, it’s helping to bring down the inflammation. It’s helping to combat any kind of bacterial infection that’s contributing to the formation of the pimple there. And it’s helping to drain fluid from below. Get that lymphatic movement underneath to the inflamed spot. Yeah. Calendula tincture, topically, we’ve also worked with it for plantar warts. But really any warts on the body you could do this with. If it’s genital warts then you want to be very careful, because we are talking about a high proof alcohol extraction.

Katja (32:11):
Yeah. That could be uncomfortable.

Ryn (32:11):
So if we’re getting near sensitive skin areas, then be super cautious with that. But, you know, plantar warts, that’s about as far away from sensitive skin as you can get. The wart itself is super sensitive though, and can hurt a lot, and take a long time to resolve. But calendula tincture is very helpful in that resolution process.

Katja (32:30):
Yeah. We were just talking about plantar warts. We just filmed a chapter on that for the integumentary health course, which is the skin health course. Calendula plays a big role there. It’s important to sort of switch up your herbs when you’re working with things that are very entrenched, like a plantar wart. But I really like to keep calendula in the rotation very regularly, because I think it’s really very helpful.

Ryn (33:00):
Yeah. Those good resins have a nice activity here. Part immune activation, part just direct fight them off. And that applies as well when we’re looking at a fungal infection. The plantar wart is actually a viral infection, even though I always look at it and think, ah, you look pretty fungus-y to me. But if we do have a fungal infection, like athlete’s foot or tinea, ringworm, that kind of stuff, then calendula is a really excellent herb to choose to work with there.

Katja (33:31):
Also thrush. If you have a new baby, calendula is just lovely in helping with thrush. Although in that particular case a higher proof alcohol preparation is not what I would reach for. I would go for an oil or something like that instead.

Ryn (33:49):
Yeah. Or a tea preparation or something like that. So, you know, tincture, it’s powerful stuff. It’s really excellent, quite effective. It can be taken internally and externally. But because we’re using that high-profile alcohol, we are aware of the fact that there’ are some tissue states or some types of tissue that we’re not going to want to squirt that right onto. So fortunately calendula is an herb that we can work with in multiple ways. And if you had the space to grow a whole row of calendula, like if you could plant a whole seed packet all at once, then first off you can still make tincture. And we think that’s a good idea. But if you make all of it into tincture, you’re probably going to have more than you really need.

Katja (34:33):
Yeah. Most people probably can’t really use three quarters of a half a gallon of calendula tincture.

Drying Calendula

Ryn (34:39):
It’s kind of a lot, right? But it’s okay, because it will keep for a really long time. So, you know, I don’t think next year we’ll need to make more calendula tincture. We should be just fine. But if you have a whole batch to harvest all at once, then it makes sense to dry some. And we really prefer a dehydrator for this job.

Katja (34:57):
Yeah. For a long time, I didn’t have a dehydrator, so I never dried things like calendula. But now we do, and it’s fantastic.

Ryn (35:07):
Yeah. It’s a little harder to dry calendula if you don’t have a dehydrator machine. Because it is a pretty dense flower head, and we do want to get all that moisture out quickly. That’s really key here. So you could, you know, if you had an attic, like a dry attic somewhere that you could have access to, you could go ahead and bring your flowers up there. But if you do that, you’re really going to lose some of the color that we want to keep. You’re going to see them get paler yellow if they’re dried in that manner.

Katja (35:36):
Yeah. Because even if you do have a really dry attic or shed or something, it’s still going to take a while for them to dry that way.

Ryn (35:43):
Yeah. With a dehydrator you’ve got heat, yes, but you also have air movement in a nice controlled way. And so it just does the best job. It does the best job possible.

Katja (35:54):
Yeah. Really, it’ll dry within 24 hours or less than that even, maybe even 10 to 12 hours. And that’s really what you’re looking for to hold on to that bright color and really retain all of those constituents.

Ryn (36:11):
Yeah. But yeah, again, if you had that whole row of calendula planted, you could harvest enough flowers to fill up your dehydrator. And you might be able to do that every day or every couple of days.

Katja (36:23):
You would want to do it right away. So you’d want to be prepared to run the dehydrator as soon as you picked the flowers. And so really, if you plant a whole row of calendula, you’ll have enough flowers to run your dehydrator every time that you harvest. But if you don’t have quite that many, then you can actually toss several different herbs into your dehydrator at the same time. So don’t worry. Or like sliced apples or whatever. It doesn’t have to be a dehydrator only full of calendula. It can have calendula and catnip and some chamomile. That’s fine.

Ryn (37:01):
Yeah, absolutely. Well, okay. So if you do that, now you’re going to have dried calendula flowers to work with. And we can take them as a tea. Tea of calendula we maybe even prefer over a tincture for those gut issues we were talking about. You know, the kind of intestinal bloating, fluid retention in the belly, and especially for leaky gut syndrome, Which is really quite common actually. Because there’s a number of really common factors that can contribute to leaky gut, like eating a bunch of food allergens, eating a bunch of pro-inflammatory seed oils in our food, having disrupted gut flora, whether that’s from antibiotics or just from a whole lot of whole lot of fast food in your life. So there’s lots of paths to get there. And it’s a quite common state for folks to be in. Calendula is one of the absolute best herbs for leaky gut, for many of the consequences of it, including some of that fluid bloating and irritations in the intestinal lining. So yeah, calendula tea for the gut.

Katja (38:02):
Also the lymphatic movement in the gut. I mean, throughout the body, but really in the gut is where it sort of shines. And if you ever have that uncomfortable bloating feeling, whether that is from something that you ate or because of menstrual bloating, calendula is super, super helpful then.

Ryn (38:27):
Yeah. All those same things I was mentioning before about liver support, the hepatoprotective qualities of calendula, that comes really well in a tea in addition to that tincture format. So you can have one, you can have both. It’s all fine. That’s no problem. And then when we have those dried flowers, we can also make some water-based topical preparations. So that could be a soak. Make a strong tea and soak in it. You could make a strong tea and soak a cloth in it, and then put that onto the body. We call that a compress. And that could be really good if you had a ringworm somewhere, ringworm infection going on, this little fungal skin issue. But it’s not a convenient spot to like get into a foot bath container or whatever. Then making a compress can be really nice, and it will convey that calendula action right where you want it. And then you can also make a poultice. Take a whole bunch of the calendula flowers. Soak them into some hot water and get a good warm, wet, mass of plant material. And put that right onto the area you’re working on, or wrap it in cheese cloth and put it on there like that. So poultices can be super helpful. You can even apply that to the face, you know? So if you had a number of some kind of like swollen, fluidy-looking pimples that haven’t quite opened or anything, a calendula compress or a poultice right on there, that should help. That should help substantially.

Katja (39:54):
Yeah. And if it’s warm, it’ll also feel really nice.

Ryn (39:56):
Yeah. Or if you have acne on your upper back, that can happen. That’d be a really great place to apply calendula.

Calendula-Infused Oil

Katja (40:05):
Now, if you have a whole row of calendula and you don’t want to dehydrate it, you could make an infused oil. This isn’t going to work if you have just one or two or three calendula plants, because when you’re making an infused oil you really can’t just sort of add a couple of flowers every day the same way that we would with a tincture. With a tincture that’s no problem, because the alcohol is going to do the preserving. But with an oil, first off we need to make sure that we get all the water out. And secondly, every time that you open up the jar, oil doesn’t really want to be open a whole lot.

Ryn (40:43):
Yeah. You’re exposing it to air. You’re exposing it to some light and everything, and those can oxidize the oil. Alcohol is not susceptible to that kind of process, so it doesn’t really matter if you open the jar every day to throw three or four new flower heads in. But if we had a jar of oil, we wouldn’t want to just kind of leave it open to allow any moisture that was brought in to evaporate away for this process, because we’d have to leave it open for like a month at a time. And that would be just way too much oxygen exposure. So we’re not going to want to do that. And we don’t want to like have it tightly closed and then open it, and throw in some flowers and close it up tight again. Because again, that moisture is going to get caught inside, and then you’re going to risk molding in your oil. So that’d be real sad.

Katja (41:31):
So my favorite thing to do instead is if you have a whole row, harvest a bunch of flowers. Like take one whole day’s harvest. And that’ll fill up definitely a cup or more of oil.

Ryn (41:48):
A pint jar or something like that.

Katja (41:49):
Maybe even more than that. But I don’t like to make oils in a Mason jar. I prefer to make them in the stove, or if you have a dehydrator you can do it in the dehydrator too. But I like to put them in a pot with no lid. And just cover them with the oil and put them in the stove at the lowest temperature for just a little while. Because what’s going to happen is it’s going to evaporate out the fluid, so you don’t run the risk of having mold, right? Like, as it is slowly warming, then the water is soaking into the oil, but it is evaporating almost immediately. And when I make oils this way, they don’t mold. So that is what I like so much about it. And then once you’ve done that for a few hours, then you can close it up and just let it macerate in there longer. That’s fine. But evaporating the water out is just really, really key there.

Ryn (42:58):
Yeah. Well then we’ve done that, and now we have calendula infused oil. And that’s a fantastic substance.

Katja (43:05):
It’s so yellow. It’s so yellow, it’s amazing.

Ryn (43:09):
Yeah, really good. So we can work with that as the oil itself, or we could make it into a salve for wound care. Calendula is an excellent wound care herb. Because again, it has that antimicrobial quality to it. It can help to prevent any infection from getting into a wound or proliferating once it was already there. Calendula has that lymphatic quality, which helps with the resolution of wounds, by draining out the kind of waste products or the detritus from below. And it’s also got that vulnerary effect where calendula is going to encourage the formation of new healthy cells over the wounded spot. So it’s one of our kind of favorite go-to herbs for a wound care oil or wound care salve. Your kind of every day cuts and scrapes bites and stings kind of situation.

Katja (44:02):
Yes. And gentle enough for kiddos and for delicate skin, all that stuff. Really, really good.

Ryn (44:11):
An infused oil like this is also very appropriate if you had a spot with some, you know, stagnate fluids, lymphatic stagnation, edema, other kinds of stuck fluid, but the skin above it was really dry. So we wouldn’t want to just go ahead and put our high proof alcohol tincture right onto that, because it’s going to dry out the superficial tissue even further. But if we have olive oil or whatever kind of oil infused with our calendula, the oil is going to help to nourish and hydrate the skin. And the calendula activity is going to work its way down into the deeper layers of tissue and help to move that fluid that was kind of stuck under that dry spot. And this is actually not uncommon, this arrangement or stratification of tissue states. So it’s a really nice opportunity to work with calendula oil.

Katja (45:07):
All right. So those are all a bunch of amazing things that you can do with calendula. And I promise it is not hard to grow. So my proposal is let’s grow calendula together this year. You can get some seeds now and make a plan for where you want to put them. And then as spring springs, then we can all post on social media through the spring when we plant them, and then through the summer when they’re growing, and then when we harvest. And that way we can all see each other’s plants. And if you tag us – we’re at Commonwealth Herbs on everything, Facebook and Instagram. We have one on Twitter too – then you can show us your lovely calendulas or calenduli. Yeah. And what you’re making with them. And we will post ours, and it’ll be a really fun way for us all to be growing stuff together. I’m really excited about this.

Ryn (46:13):
That sounds like fun. Yeah. Let’s do that for sure. All right. Well, that’s it for us for this week. Thank you for listening. We’ll have some more Holistic Herbalism podcast for you next time. Until then take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. Drink some tea. And plant some seeds, huh?

Katja (46:29):
Yes. Grow something.

Ryn (46:32):
All right. See you later.

Katja (46:32):
Bye-Bye

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