Monday, April 12, 2010

Calendula and Varicose Veins

In the next few weeks I'll be posting excerpts from my Healing Herbs ebook. The whole book is now available for free at - check it out!

(Calendula officinalis)
Calendula produces a beautiful flower that exudes sunshine and joy. To harvest this highly resinous flower, pick it at its peak on a warm summer day. You’ll know you have good plant medicine by the stickiness covering your hands.
Calendula is commonly made into oils and salves and used for a variety of skin conditions including rashes, burns, scars, and scrapes. It has an affinity to encourage connective tissue to regenerate, creating soft and lustrous skin.
It can also be used externally on painful itchy chicken pox (as a tincture or salve) or even on fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and ringworm.

Internally it can be used to treat swollen lymph glands and soothe ulcers. You can also spread the fresh petals over your salads for added color and beauty.

When making medicine with calendula, it’s almost always dried first. Drying calendula for oils decreases the water content, making a more stable oil, and it also concentrates the resins in the plant. When making a tincture of calendula, a higher-proof alcohol will extract more of the resins.

Calendula will grow readily in your garden, often self-seeding after the first year of planting. By snipping the flowers regularly, you promote its growth. I can often harvest calendula flowers numerous times in a season.

This plant is often used for varicose veins. It helps to strengthen the capillary walls. The following is a modified recipe originally from herbalist Heather Nic an Fhleishdeir in Eugene, Oregon.

Calendula Varicose Vein Spray
•Fill a mason jar with 1⁄2 dried calendula flowers and 1⁄2 dried yarrow. •Cover with witch hazel and let sit for three weeks shaking daily.
•After three weeks, strain and add 10–30 drops of lavender essential oil per quart of spray.
•Pour the solution into a spray bottle and a label. This can be sprayed on varicose veins as often as desired.
How does it work?
•As already mentioned, the calendula helps to strengthen the capillary and vein walls (which, by definition, are weak in varicose veins.) Its anti- inflammatory properties are also useful here.
•The yarrow helps to promote the circulation of blood, dispersing any blood stagnation.
•The lavender essential oil adds healing and anti-inflammatory properties that can help with itching associated with varicose veins.
•The witch hazel is a standard remedy for varicose veins because of its astringent properties that help to shrink the enlarged tissues.