If you read our Herbal Basics series and are now wondering what to do with all the oils, tinctures and other infusions you've made - you will love this next little series of herbal recipes. You can also catch up on all our herbal basics blog posts here.
In today's blog post, you will find our first herbal recipe, using some of our favourite herbs - a Skin Soothing Salve, with calendula, chamomile and st johns wort.
These herbs all have many uses, so in this next section I'll just walk you through some of the reasons why I chose these particular herbs for a skin healing salve.
Calendula officinalis: Historically this herb has been used for centuries for it's wound healing abilities. In terms of the actions this herb is capable of; there are many ! Calendula is anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, a styptic, antimicorbial, antiviral, antihaemorrhagic, and antiseptic - among other things when used internally. The wound healing activity of Calendula is thought to be due to it's ability to increase glycoprotein and collagen metabolism. Calendula is indicated ( when used externally ) for the treatment of wounds, inflamed skin conditions, bruising, boils, broken capillaries, chillblains, fungal infections like athletes foot, acne, eczema, sebaceous cysts, sore nipples, blepharitis, nappy rash, sore nipples, herpes simplex ( ie. cold sores ), and even conjunctivitis.
Matricaria recutita: Chamomile is another herb with a long history of use for skin conditions. With anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and vulnerary actions ( when it comes to external use for the skin - this baby has A LOT of other uses though ! ). Chamomile is able to inhibit the activity of COX and LOX ( which are pathways involved in inflammation and thus, pain ). It's indicated for skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema and general wound healing. Note: Both chamomile and Calendula are from the asteraceae family - so if you have an allergy to this family, this salve is not for you.
Hypericum perforatum: St Johns wort, again has a history of use for skin conditions, but also to use externally for conditions such as spinal injury or irritation, sciatica, neuralgia, and fibrositis. For skin, hypericum's actions are vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, astringent, anti-viral, antiseptic and analgesic. It has been indicated for superficial wounds, scars, and burns. More recent research has been conducted around Hypericums wound healing abilities, as well as for atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and herpes simplex infections. It is important to note that St Johns wort has a long list of drugs that it may interact with - so before making this salve please check that it is safe for you - or just don't include this herb in your mixture.
If you've had a read of my Herbal Self Care guide E-book, you will have already learnt a little about a couple of these herbs and their properties; as well as what the actions listed mean. If you'd like to get your hands on a copy, fill out the pop up form as your enter the site.
Something I feel is important to note here, is that while these herbs may help to soothe your skin ailments - be it eczema, psoriasis, or just dried and flaky skin; it is not curing or healing the underlying cause. If you have a skin condition, please find out what is causing this, whether it's a food intolerance, nutrient deficiency, lifestyle factors, or something else. This cream is great for treating flare ups, but should not be relied upon, and definitely not the only thing you do to fix the problem.
There are many, many ways in which someone can go about making herbal skin care - this is just a recipe I have been playing with myself, but feel free to add or swap ingredients, and make it suit your needs best.
50 mL Hypericum perforatum infused oil ( St Johns wort ) ( I just used olive oil for all of these infusions ) * Note: when infusing St Johns wort it is best to use FRESH flowers, and infuse the oil in the sun, this will make a lovely red oil - store bought and dried flowers wont do this.
25 mL Calendula officinalis ( Marigold / calendula ) infused oil
25 mL Matricaria recutita ( Chamomile ) infused oil
If you'd like details on how to infuse your flowers in oil, head over to this blog post.
10 g beeswax
5 - 7 drops essential oil of your choice ( I used chamomile )
1. If your oils still contain the herb flowers, strain them using a cheesecloth, muslin cloth or even old tea towel, to ensure all herbal material is out of the oils.
2. Pour your strained oils into a small saucepan on the stove, and begin to warm them up on very low heat, stir to ensure they combine
3. Chop or grate 10 grams of beeswax, and pop it into the saucepan, allowing it to melt. Stir as it melts.
4. Once all of the beeswax is melted and mixed through, check the consistency by dropping some of the mixture onto a teaspoon or your bench top. If too hard, add more oils, if too soft add more beeswax. take your saucepan off the heat when your desired consistency is achieved.
5. As the mixture is cooling add in the 5 - 7 drops of essential oil, stir through. This ensures that the salve will last a little longer due to the antibacterial / antimicrobial constituents found in essential oils.
6. Once cooled, pop on the lid and label your salve !
This particular formulation is something I've given to my partner to use - he's a plasterer and gets very dry hands that can crack if not looked after. So far there have been good results ! If you substitute the olive oil for something a little more face friendly ( or on comedogenic ) like almond oil, jojoba, grapeseed etc. this could be used as a makeup removing balm, or to cleanse the skin using the oil cleansing method. It can of course also be used for skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis - but remember that you need to find out the cause of these issues, not just treat the symptoms !
That's all for todays post, I hope you enjoyed reading about these few herbs - and if you try my recipe be sure to let me know in the comments - or tag me in your pictures @lavenderandcobotanicals !