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Calendula brings the Glow

calendula petals in oil

Cold, grey, and rainy today. I’m thinking about cozying up with one of my favorite plants, a golden beauty long associated with fire and the Sun, Calendula.

Calendula officinalis is her botanical name, but she has been known by many different names including Pot Marigold, Merrybud, Marygold, Summer’s Bride, and Ruddles.

Calendula’s petals, leaves, and stem contain carotenoids which are vitamin A precursors with antioxidant activity. Used topically, it’s excellent for all skin types, and especially good for sensitive, dehydrated / dry, chapped / inflamed skin, wounds and burns.

I use Calendula in one of my skin care blends for its ability to improve skin’s condition by refining pores and encouraging cell renewal.

Another effect more difficult to measure is how Calendula can cast a little warm sunshine onto cold, grey, rainy moods. Settling into a hot tub full of Calendula bath tea is one of my favorite ways to relax and soothe my skin and nerves.

‘Bathtub therapy’ seems not to be practiced by many people in the U.S. I saw a statistic go by recently saying 50% never take baths. Wow! No wonder everybody is so grumpy all the time. Don’t know how I’d manage without them.

If you’ve never made your own bath tea, I have directions and recipe ideas in this post. Give it a try. Take some time, slow down, have a nice long soak.

After the bath, massage a bit of Calendula oil into your damp skin. You’ll be refreshed, moisturized, glowing.

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Chamomile in the Springtime Garden

chamomile

German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is one of the first signs of green in my Springtime garden, and a very welcome sight it is!

A member of the Daisy Family, Chamomile contains calcium, potassium, vitamin B2, flavonoids, coumarins, and salicylates. The flowers are used for their antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, sedative, and vulnerary properties.

The flavor is described as both sweet and bitter. You’ll notice its appley aroma which is just how it tastes, but if you make the same mistake I did and steep your tea extra long (medicine-making style), it becomes really bitter!

Chamomile is used in skin care to soften dry skin, clean pores, clear acne, and reduce puffiness. It’s also a key herb to use for healing wounds and inflammations such as burns, itches, and bug bites.

Try using Chamomile in a steam to ease nasal congestion. Used as a bath herb, Chamomile can relieve stress and calm cranky children.

I also like to use Chamomile to make a massage oil that soothes sore muscles and aids relaxation. This oil is wonderful on sore, swollen feet!

 

* If you are sensitive to Ragweed you may be allergic to Chamomile. Be careful when you first try it. Otherwise, it’s considered very safe.

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D.I.Y. Herbal Spa Meetup

bathtub spa
"The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day." -Hippocrates

 

BIG THANKS to Jennifer Goodheart at Acadia Herbals, Brittany Wood Nickerson of Thyme Herbal, and everyone at the “D.I.Y. Herbal Spa Meetup” on Sunday! SO much fun to relax and swap tips and recipes with other bathtub goddesses while sipping Jennifer’s delightful Jasmine-Lemongrass tea 🙂

(Join our herbal group at Meetup.com if you’d like to catch the next meetup!)

Brittany advocates using salt scrubs to keep skin exfoliated and moisturized for its optimal health, and explained how this also supports our lymph and nerves.

She demonstrated an easy-to-make recipe that I know will leave you feeling just sparkling:

  • 1 cup finely ground sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon peel powder
  • add a few drops of lemon, sweet orange or grapefruit essential oil if you’d like to make it aromatic

I talked about my great love for tub teas (of course!) and all my favorite ingredients for a bathtub spa including salts, baking soda, oatmeal, and apple cider vinegar.

Vinegar restores skin and scalp’s natural pH and is said to draw pollutants out of the body. A soak in a bath with a little vinegar can help relieve sore muscles, itchy skin and sunburn (*but be aware that vinegar can irritate open sores and sensitive skin).

Herb-infused vinegars are really simple to make and make a fabulous addition to your herbal pantry. Some of my favorite blends are:

  • 3 parts rose petals, 1 part spearmint
  • 1 part rosemary, 1 part lavender
  • 2 parts lavender, 1 part lemon balm,  1 part lemon peel

All you need to do is add 1 oz. (weight) herbs to 2 cups apple cider vinegar. Let it steep for 1 – 2 weeks, then strain.

To use, add ½ to 1 cup of vinegar to the tub when it’s filled. Makes a great salad dressing too!

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Bathtub Therapy

bathtub therapy

Stressful day? Try some “Bathtub Therapy” (or, when the going gets tough, the tough get into the tub)!

Baths can be so soothing, both for body and mind. When I’m feeling fritzed, there’s nothing better than sinking into a big tub with a cup of tea and good book.

I like to soak in herbal teas as well as drink them! San Franciscan herbalist and aromatherapist Jeanne Rose calls herbal baths “the organic antidote to impure air and harsh water conditions”. She recommends taking a herbal bath 2-3 times a week to smooth and hydrate the skin, and keep it healthy and young looking.

I tend to have lots of different herbs on hand, so can make lots of different bathtub teas to suit my mood. Some of my favorite blends are:

  • 2 parts red roses, 1 part jasmine flowers, 1 part patchouli leaf
  • 2 parts lavender flowers, 1 part comfrey leaf, 1 part marjoram leaf
  • 2 parts calendula flowers, 1 part lemon balm leaf, 1 part lemongrass leaf
  • 2 parts chamomile flowers, 1 part catnip leaves, 1 part lavender flowers

But you don’t have to have a huge herbal apothecary- Common kitchen ingredients like apple cider vinegar, oatmeal, and sea salt are perfect for turning your bath into a therapeutic spa experience.

Vinegar and salt (½ cup-1 cup) can be added directly to the tub as it’s filling, but oatmeal and herbs I put in a muslin bag before tossing into the tub. An easy substitute if you don’t have a bath tea bag is to use a washcloth. Wrap a large handful of herbs up in the washcloth and tie it with a string.

(I let the bath tea keep steeping in the tub with me while I soak.)

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your soak. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your luffa!

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