Latin name: Calendula officinalis
Other Names: Pot Marigold, Common Marigold, Garden Marigold, Gold bloom, Holligold, Marigold, Mary Bud, Pot Marigold, Ruddles
Calendula is an easy to grow annual with a long bloom time. It thrives in almost any soil and will, if blooms are picked as they flower, bloom from early spring through the first frost. Even though it is an annual, in the right soil conditions, it is known to self seed and come back yearly.
Calendula is part of the family Asteraceae along with daisies, chamomile, chrysanthemum, and ragweed.
The flowering tops are sticky and resinous and grow in a color range from yellow to orange, to peach, to brown. The most potently medicinal variety is the dark orange.
Internally: calendula can be taken internally as a tea, tincture, or added to broths. It has many medicinal properties including:
-helps the body balance hydration
-regulates or normalizes and promotes menstruation
-cleanses and supports the lymphatic system/ clears lymphatic congestion
-reduces swollen glands
-improves immune function
-supports liver function
-soothes intestinal irritation (ulcers, cramps, indigestion, diarrhea)
-promotes bile health
-can also be used a mouth gargle to support gum health, for periodontal disease, and thrush
Externally: calendula can be used as a warm compress, a sitz bath, distilled into a hydrosol, or infused in oil to make a salve, balm, or lotion. Its medicinal uses include:
-promotes wound healing
-promotes cellular repair/ growth
-reduces infection and swelling
-scrapes and scratches
-postpartum perineal care
Energetically: Calendula can be used as a vibrational remedy in the form of flower essence. The indications for it are:
It acts as a truth serum. Self truth or speaking aloud what you feel but do not feel comfortable or empowered to speak aloud. It supports stepping sturdily into your own light and brightness. It supports those who find it difficult to connect vulnerably, emotionally, or intimately. It invites the energy of abundance.
History and Lore:
While it is not known for sure where Calendula originated from, it has been found to be part of medieval roman and mediterranean cultures as both food and medicine. It has been depicted as an addition to broths and soups, butters, as adornments during time of celebration and ceremony, and of course for its medicinal implications. It has historically been used as a dye too.
It was thought to protect the person carrying it from scorpion bites. If kept under your bed or in your bed roll it is thought to protect the sleeper. If grown or hung near doorways it prevents unwelcome spirits or energies. It is said that a flower brought when dealing with legal matters in the courts is supposed to bring on positive outcomes to the person carrying it.
It has plenty of lore about love, thought to be the flower that would be plucked when wondering if “he loves me- he loves me not”, added to love charms or placed under one's pillow when dreaming up their future husband or wife.
I'm sure there are many other tales and lore, but this is the extent of my knowledge of it.
Calendula should not be used by pregnant women, as it can induce menses.
While there are no confirmed contraindications, please check in with your prescriber if you are taking medication for diabetes or high blood pressure.
Calendula is super easy to grow and can tolerate all kinds of soil and light conditions, although it thrives most in full sun and well draining soil.
Seeds can be directly sown into the ground in early spring, after the last frost, at the same time you would sow your lettuce and green seeds. They can be sewn every 6 inches and covered with 1/4 - 1/2“ of soil and watered in. They should germinate within a week and will begin to bloom 6-8 weeks later.
They can also be started in a hoop house or indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost date and transplanted once the ground is thawed for planting.
They also grow well in a pot. They are a medium sized plant so be sure to use a pot big enough so that they don't get root bound.
For harvesting, they love to be picked and the more you pick the more they will produce. Be sure to “dead head” the plant if any flowers are missed and begin to go to seed to ensure continual growth. Once they begin to go to seed they will prematurely stop flowering.
They can be used fresh for tincturing, tea, food, distillation, and compresses but should be dried for infused oils and salves. I dry mine on a screen in a frame, face down, out of direct sunlight. They can also be dried in a dehydrator, although I prefer a slow curing.
Calendula is a wonderful addition to eggs, shortbread, compound butters, stocks and broths, salads, cocktails, as edible decor on cakes, in beautiful teas, spring rolls, the possibilities are infinite.
I absolutely love to make beautiful infusions for my self care in the winter months. A reminder of summer and my garden. This is what I’ve been drinking lately:
Mix together- Equal parts
Dried oat tops
Add one ounce (a loose half jar) of mixed herbs to a one quart glass mason jar, fill with boiling water, place a saucer over it, do not lid the jar tightly as it will create pressure and the jar could break, and allow to sit for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight. Strain. Drink. I usually drink a full quart in two days.
Wow, what a time to be alive.
How are you? Hows your heart?
I hope that you are taking time and space to digest what is happening, experience and work through the feelings, and make time to really embrace and relish in all of the things in your life that you are grateful for.
I'll just get into the medicine bit:
I have a well stocked apothecary and luckily already had made many medicines made that are indicated for COVID-19.
I have been consciously taking inventory of what all i have to offer, what i should set aside, and waiting for the frenzy (within myself and in the outside world) to calm down before I listed some stuff. I will be continuing to add to it as I get more bottles and bring some money back in.
I am offering everything at a sliding scale. I will have 2 ongoing coupons for percentages off (20% off- BEWELL20 // 40% off- BEWELL40) and I decided to offer 2 things at a pay what you can scale could be full price, could be $0). Hand sanitizer and an essence blend.This sliding scale medicine is a way for me to offer support to the community while also trusting that my monetary needs will be met. If you are okay with money please pay what you feel is fair and if you are feeling called to this medicine and are feeling financially unable, please allow me to gift it to you. Either way- from my heart to yours.
I am going to be very honest and say that we (my family) are currently in the boat of "oh fuck- what are we going to do? How will we pay bills and buy groceries?" because my honey is out of work until who knows when so this- my hearts work- my offering to the world- is our only source of income. Yet, i trust.
For now, These are the medicines I have available in the shop- organized by category:
-st. Johns wort
Immune modulating support:
-st. John's wort
All items are listed in the virtual shop. (HERE is a link to the shop)
I also want to encourage you to make your own medicine, get to know the plants that are around you and learn their medicine. I will be posting and sharing recipes, how to videos, plant profiles, materia medica, and pretty much just sharing some of my brain with you guys. This is all happening in real time, which these days feel like either snail speed or chasing my tail speed with all the kids home and trying to get into a whole new rhythm.
CoronaVirus: Herbal protocol and Understanding
By: Alana House- community herbalist
Alright, I’ll admit that I may have gone down a coronavirus wormhole. Each thing I learned lead me down a path of wanting better understanding which lead me down more paths and now I feel like a sparkly eyed epidemiologist wanna be. In general I feel alright about it. I have herbal allies on hand, myself and my family are healthy and vital, and I am informed and nourished- but- I'm a little bit of a prepper (i know, i know) and the potentiality of a quarantine has me thinking about some things.
I wanted to condense and consolidate my knowledge here with the hopes of supporting those who read it with some understanding and herbal helpers to ideally stay well and, if the virus does happen in your world, have some herbs on hand to support your body through the illness and healing process.
I. What is CoronaVirus?
CoronaVirus is a strain of virus’s that cause respiratory distress. There are several strains, this one is COVID-19. SARS (sudden acute respiratory syndrome) is another strain of CoronaVirus that caused an epidemic in 2003 because of unsafe chicken care and handling.
Corona virus’s are highly adaptable and are able to continually make new variants of itself, which is why it has been so hard to treat and contain.
The statistics show that of those who become infected, only 18% experience a severe reaction. The people who are most affected and at risk are the elderly, those with compromised or weakened immune systems, and those with pre-existing lung and lymphatic conditions.
II. How does it affect the body?:
This strain of coronavirus first affects the body by attacking the cilia of the lungs. Cilia are small hair-like organisms in the lungs that move in an upward, wave-like motion. The purpose of the cilia is to keep contaminants out of the lungs by acting like a filter. By attacking and destroying the cilia the virus allows fluid to settle into the lungs, which could cause secondary infections like pneumonia and bronchitis. This attack on the body causes a surge of immune response to that part of the body. An immune response is basically inflammation. The inflammatory response can cause what is called a ‘cytokine storm’ which weakens your body's immune system.
The corona virus also puts an attack on the lymphatic system and kidneys, the immune and hormone regulating system and the body’s filters. It weakens the systems that keep us well.
I wanted to go first into prevention before I went into symptoms. Prevention is the ideal scenario.
V. The Stages of Illness:
1. Immune Boosting and Support:
The ideal scenario is to stay uninfected and well. Herbal support information for Immune Building, Liver Support, and Lymph support will be in the last section.
2. Early Stage:
Okay, you are infected but it has not yet settled into your lungs.
This phase is cold, damp, depressing on body, fatigued. You may have a fever with chills or not sign of fever. You have a dry cough, dry throat, tight chest. Possible nausea.
This is when you want warming remedies.
At this point you really want to do a push on immune boosting and/or lymphatic flushing. (herb info in last section)
3. Acute Stage:
The virus settles into the lungs.
Stop taking immune boosters because you don't want to cause more of an inflammatory response in the body.
Fever has settled in. You want to let the fever do its work to kill off the virus.
A cough without an expectoration of mucus or a deep rattling cough with yellow sputum.
Digestive upset. Bloating/diarrhea/constipation.
Tight chest. Shortness of breath. Coughing when still and asthma like breathing while moving.
At this point you want purgatives, cooling remedies, and expectorants. (herbal info in last section)
4. Severe Stage:
Very labored breathing, shallow breathing, fainting, cold sweaty limbs, ashtmatic breathing.
You want to keep warm but also allow your skin to be exposed to sweat out toxins.
Watch for secondary illness and signs of kidney distress which include: water retention, pain in lower back, and decrease in urine output.
At this point, if you are not able to be treated in a medical setting, you want drying and drawing lung support (in lat section).
5. Recovery Phase:
This is the point where you are slow and easy on yourself. Eat easily digestible food. Take iron building tonics. Hydrate. Don't overdo it. Lung illness, as we all know, is exhausting. Adaptogenic herbs are good for this time to support your body systems in getting back to their normal (in lat section).
VI. Herbal Support:
Instead of offering exact formulas I am going to offer groupings of herbs that you can choose from according to accessibility and preference. You will notice that many of these herbs overlap in sections.
My prefered way to take medicine is in tincture form because it is potent, shelf stable, and you don’t need to take alot.
Vitamin C is an effective immune booster. I recommend finding a brand that doesn't contain sugar. The dosage for immune support is 2000mgs 4 times per day and 500-1000mgs 4 times per day for children ages 4-6.
Link to Cordyceps tincture the I love is (here).
Elder Leaf Decoction Recipe by Steven Buhner:
Elderleaf decoction is a wonderful immune stimulant and can be easily made by you.
Boil 4 ounce of dried elderlef in 2 quarts of water. Boil down by ½. Cool and strain.
Cook down by ½ again. Cool.
Measure and add equal parts 100 proof vodka for preservation.
Dosage is 1-2 tablespoons 2-4 times per day.
I hope that this information is helpful and offers some peace of mind in information. I do not believe that you should get overly upset and worried, worked up or panicked. Viruses come along all of the time. This one is being particularly hyped and sensationalized in the media, and while we should all exercise common sense and caution, living in fear is not good for your health. Be well.
Please feel free to share this as desired. If you would like a PDF version just email me at email@example.com
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. This information is not FDA approved. Please check in with your health care professional about using herbs if you are on medication, pregnant, nursing, or health compromised.
Usnea, (ooh- sney- uh) also called old woman's beard. is an amazing and wildly cool looking lichen.
Lichens are an algae fungus combination. Usnea is an incredible medicinal, an easy to make yourself medicine, and a good ally to have on hand for the times of living during a viral pandemic.
Where can you find usnea and sustainable harvesting practices:
Usnea can be found all over the world. It likes to grow in moist environments and places with clean air. The trees that host it are coniferous trees like pine, juniper, and spruce as well as on hardwoods like oak, walnut, hickory, pear, and apple.
You can tell its the real deal usnea if you gently pull on a strand of it and there's a white thread looking core. (I posted a video on my instagram page here)
I alway feel the need to vouch for the plants and send out a reminder about sustainable harvesting practices.
For this lichen, which is relatively slow growing, you never want to harvest directly from the trees. The only way I harvest it is off of fallen limbs after a good wind. I also never harvest the entirety of anything. My rule is to take less that 1/3 of any aerial plant (less that 1/5 for roots)- not only for proper seed distribution and natural composting, but for the energetics of having regard for the natural world and not being a greedy jerk.
You also definitely need to consider the cleanliness of the area. Usnea is a bioaccumulator so if you're harvesting from a toxic place you are making toxic medicine.
Is it close to the road where fumes and roadway dust settle? does the area have any industrial or farm runoff going to it? do dogs pee there? Be mindful of where you are harvesting. If you wouldn't eat some violets, or ground foliage then its not clean enough to gather medicine from.
The medicine of unsea:
Usnea is very a very valuable medicine to keep in your home apothecary. She is an anti- gal.
-Its an antibiotic against gram positive bacteria (here's link to the difference between gram+ and gram-)
-Vulnerary (an herb used for wound healing)(I am a fan of fancy words used to describe plant actions)
Usnea can be used both internally as a tincture or externally as a salve or compress.
Some specific treatments include; staph, strep, wound healing, sore throat, and fungal infections. Anything with heat and dampness.
Usnea has a special affinity for:
-kidney and bladder infections
Because usnea is antimicrobial it is a wonderful medicine for all types of pathogens. Most pharmacuetical antibiotics destroy all bacteria, including the good ones, but usnea and its anti-biotic properties do not kill of good bacterial and gut flora.
Usnea, if used as a whole plant medicine, has no known side effects but should not be used during pregnancy.
How to make an Usnea dual extraction:
Since usnea is a lichen it needs to be extracted 2 way to get its full range of medicinal benefits. Some properties are alcohol and water soluble and some are heat soluble.
What will you need?
-a clean jar with lid
-usnea lichen (fresh and wilted or dried)
-alcohol of choice (50% strength I always tincture in 100 proof non GMO Swedish vodka)
-good drinking water
- a small pot for stovetop use
-amber glass bottle for storing finished tincture
You want to tincture unseat at a1:5 ratio. For example, if you have 3 ounces of usnea then you will use 15 ounces of 50 percent alcohol.
You guys, this is so easy -I love sharing with you how accessible it is to make your own medicine!
Chop up or grind usnea and add to clean jar. Pour in alcohol.
Store in a cool, dark, dry place for 2-6 weeks. The medicine will be ready for the next step in as soon as 2 weeks but will continue to gain potency if left longer.
For the second extraction:
Strain plant matter from alcohol through a wire strainer and cheese cloth.
Put alcohol in a lidded jar and set aside. Put plant matter in small pot.
Add the same amount of water to the pot that you used for the alcohol extraction. For example, if you used 15 ounces of alcohol in your tincture then add 15 ounces of water.
Simmer on very low temp until 2/3 of the water has cooked out. If you are using 15 ounces of water you should be left with about 5 ounces of "tea".
Strain the plant matter from the water in the same way as before. Compost plant matter with gratitude. Add remaining "tea" into the jar of tincture. You will have 20 ounces of tincture if you used the same measurements as the example. Your completed medicine will be about 39% alcohol.
You now have a full spectrum usnea tincture!!! YAY!!! How easy was that?!?!
Store it in an amber glass bottle for the longest shelf life and most potent medicine. Sunshine degrades the healing properties of plants in storage.
So, now that you know how awesome usnea is and what an ally it could be for you and those you love in times of sickness and during times of global scare for pandemic, I hope that you, with deep reverence for our mama earth, go out and gather some lichens and make some good medicine.
Blue Lotus has a long history of use and adoration across the continents. It has been used by many cultures including those of the Egyptian, Myan, Syrian, and Thai peoples.
The ancient Egyptian peoples are most well known for their love of the Blue Lotus flower, they have even discovered the flowers laid upon the body of King Tut inside of his tomb.
Women and pharaohs would wear head dresses adorned with Blue Lotus flowers and they had many uses for it in both social and spiritual practices.
The flowers of Blue Lotus would be infused into wines- this preparation would be used during gathering thought to be what would be considered an orgy and durings piritual practice because of its euphoria inducing effects.
Blue Lotus is adaptogenic; meaning it will adapt to the needs of the person taking its medicine. For example; if you are in need of deep relaxation it will act in that way- but if you are in need of a little bit of energy it will not make you tired.
Its effects are diverse:
Blue Lotus does not produce a strong and overly heroic effect. It is subtle and divine.
When imbibed upon it produces a mildly euphoric effect, raising awareness and tranquility. Calming anxiety and tension, it is wonderful during social gatherings when one might feel overwhelmed. It calms frayed nerves.
Blue Lotus offers and supports introspective work too. Aiding in meditation and raising intuition.
Blue lotus evokes vivid dreams that serve to unwind stuck subconscious and conscious patterns. Healing dreams is the best way I know how to put it.
Blue lotus can enhance tactile stimulation too. Giving a warmth and comfort to touch, acting as an aphrodisiac and is wonderful to use during love making.
In ancient Egypt it was used as an entheogen during religious ceremonies because of its effects on the pineal gland which allows us to reach higher levels of consciousness and connection to the divine spirit.
How to Use Blue Lotus:
Recipe: Blue Lotus infused wine:
Grind down flowers using a mortar and pestle, scissors, or a coffee grinder. You want the petals to be fine but not a powder.
Add the ground petals to a quart sized mason jar.
Fill jar with wine.Save corked wine bottle. Shake vigorously. You want to get it oxygenated.
Allow to soak in a cool dark place for at least 2 weeks. You can soak it for up to a month.
Once ready to drink strain through a mesh strainer. I like to strain a second time through cheesecloth so that there isn't a lot of sediment.
Using a funnel or lipped measuring cup pour the strained wine back into the wine bottle. Label and enjoy.
Blue Lotus is an aquatic plant. It grows best in zones 10-12, but can be cultivated in a greenhouse in other growing zones.
Blue Lotus flowers will bloom for 3-5 days and will move with the sun and close at night, much like a sunflower, which is why ancient people deemed it the sacred flower of the sun god.
To grow from seed:
Things You Will Need
1) Place 2 inches of soil in the bottom of a waterproof container at least 6 inches tall. Slowly add warm water until it reaches about 1 inch above the top of the soil. Allow the soil to settle and then press it down gently to compact it.
2) Sow the seeds on the surface of the soil on the floor of the container. Space them evenly, at least 1 inch apart, with no two seeds touching each other. Lightly sprinkle a thin layer of white sand over them.
3) Keep the container in a warm, sunny location until the seeds sprout in several days. The sprouts look like thin grass initially. Wait until a sprout forms one or two leaves that float on the surface of the water before you pluck it out. Plant it in a separate container and then once the leaves mature more move it to deeper water, about 10-15 or so inches.
Although I am a community herbalist and healer I am not a medical doctor. I am not attempting to diagnose or treat major medical conditions or offer medical advice. These statements are not approved by the FDA.
I have been wishing to start a blog for some time. In fact, I have many notes, ideas, and writings jotted down in my notebook just waiting to jump from page and into this space. I guess the challenge or block was just getting started, so here I am, during this Sagittarius moon, using that fire, doing it. Starting.
Up until this moment I have used Instagram as my " blog space"- oversharing, undersharing, opening and unfolding, and most recently being stuck as fuck. Those little boxes just don't hold the same magic as they once did, you know? It went from being a wide open space of growth and connection to one of keeping people hidden within an algorithm and trying to force small businesses to pay for promotions.
I will still be using that space as a means of sharing, but am moving away from it as my main gig.
What will I be offering here?
I will be generously sharing all sorts of things- plant musings and materia medica, herbal remedy and food as medicine recipes, gardening techniques, foraging and wild harvesting tips and tricks, gardening and cultivating practices, beekeeping, dreams, interviews with other amazing healers and wise people, and other random and juicy bits of my world.
I am so thrilled to be beginning this journey and sharing myself in this way. Please, join me, come sit for a spell, relax, and enjoy.
Stay Tuned for a lot of goodness (insert excited hands emoji guy here)
Alana House is a trained herbalist, forager, medicine maker, and plant person.