Monthly Archives: December 2017

Herbal Healing: How to Make a Calendula Tincture

Calendula, or pot marigold, has many beneficial medicinal qualities that have been utilized by humans since the 12th century (University of Maryland Medical Center). Being anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral, it is a very useful herb for cuts and scrapes. When steeped in alcohol to create a tincture, this herb’s properties can be easily utilized to treat cuts, scrapes, bruises, burns, acne, heartburn, eczema, and cold sores, as well as many other conditions (Country Wisdom & Know-How). Making your own calendula tincture is a very easy process that yields a product that is cost-effective and highly useful.

About Calendula

Calendula should not be confused with ornamental marigolds (Tagets genus), used commonly in gardens. While often called “pot marigold,” calendula has no relation to those small flowers lining your mother’s driveway. It looks similar to a golden daisy (and belongs to the same family).

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, calendula contains a high amount of flavonoids (antioxidants that fight free radicals). Currently no one is sure what exact ingredient in the flower produces such healing qualities, though it has proven to be fairly effective when used topically. It is possible that it increases the blood flow to the wound and promotes the body’s production of collagen proteins, therefore helping to speed healing of the the wound.

In addition to healing burns, cuts, and bruises, calendula can be taken orally when extremely diluted. Calendula’s ability to lower stomach acid levels can be used to treat ulcers and heartburn, and is effective in tincture form. Add between five and ten drops (1-2 mL) of calendula tincture to two tablespoons (30 mL) of the tea of your choice. Due to the bitter taste of this tincture, there are benefits to ingesting a smaller amount rather than an entire cup (Country Wisdom & Know-How).

There has also been a study that shows calendula may have an effect against an unfortunate side effect of radiation for breast cancer patients. “Preliminary evidence suggests that calendula may help prevent dermatitis in breast cancer patients during radiation. In one study of 254 patients, women who used calendula lotion were less likely to suffer from grade II or higher dermatitis compared to those who used trolamine lotion” (UMMC).

How to Make a Tincture

A tincture is best used topically for minor burns, scrapes, cuts, and bruises, as well as a diluted tea for internal use. If something only for minor skin irritations and other topical uses is needed, it may be more convenient or beneficial to make an infused oil or skin salve. But due to the versatility of tinctures, some find it helpful to have a jar on hand.

To make a tincture only a few ingredients are needed. Calendula flowers are a necessity. You can buy seeds (online or at your local garden shop) and grow calendula flowers yourself. Growing plants is a very rewarding process, and calendula is a very easy flower to grow that is not too picky about its soil. Once fully grown, cut the flowers (promoting growth of new flowers) and hang them upside-down to dry. Alternatively, if time is of the essence, you can purchase flowers or petals in bulk online. Often there are vendors on Etsy.com that sell the flower.

Alcohol is also needed, ideally between 80 and 100 proof (40-50% alcohol). Vodka is ideal, though an expensive brand is not at all necessary. The amount needed depends on the size of your jar. Do not use rubbing alcohol.

You will also need a glass jar (such as Ball jars), cheesecloth, and a dark glass bottle:

  • Gently chop or grind the flowers to release the volatile oils. The amount of calendula used should be a quarter of the volume of the glass jar (1/4 cup calendula for a one cup jar).
  • Cover the herb with three times as much alcohol as herb. Run a knife around the inside edge of the jar to release any air bubbles.
  • Close the jar tightly and place in a cool, dark place. For 2-4 weeks, shake the jar daily to ensure that the calendula remains covered in the alcohol.
  • After 2-4 weeks, strain the alcohol through the cheesecloth into another container. Gather the calendula into the cheesecloth and squeeze out any excess alcohol.
  • Pour the tincture into the dark glass bottle. Label the bottle and store at room temperature.

Cautions

Though calendula is safe for most people when taken properly, there are some precautions to take. Those that are pregnant or breast-feeding should not take calendula orally. Those with an allergy to ragweed and related plants should not take calendula. Also, calendula should only be used on minor wounds, as it sometimes may be too efficient at sealing a wound for deep cuts.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.