Calendula has the distinct honor of being the first herbal soap that we mixed up for Pickle Creek. Actually, it was the first soap we mixed up, period. Our soap recipe has changed over the years as we’ve gotten more experienced and better at our soap making, but the fundamental herb in this soap, Calendula, remains the same.
We use Calendula in several of our products, including some of our salves and all of our lip balms. Calendula, aka Pot Marigold, is very useful plant. The common name marigold is a reference to the Virgin Mary (Mary’s gold), and you probably won’t be too surprised to learn that Calendula was used in early Catholic ceremonies. It also played a role in Ancient Greek and Roman rituals, and in India Calendula flowers are sacred to Hindus.
Calendula is a member of the Daisy family famous for its beneficial skin properties. It is well-known as a natural wound healer and was in fact applied to battlefield wounds in the American Civil War and in World War I, where it was used as an antihemorrhagic (to stop the bleeding) and as an antiseptic (to act as a natural antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agent). It was then used in the wound dressings to promote faster healing.
Pharmacological studies have suggested that Calendula extracts also have anti-inflammatory properties. That makes it a great skin soother. In herbal medicine, Calendula is used for acne, inflammation, eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. It’s also a great moisturizer for dry, chapped skin. Limited evidence indicates Calendula is even effective in treating skin damage caused by radiation therapy.
A friend turned us onto Calendula (friends are useful like that!). Each year we plant beds of these bright orange and yellow flowers and then harvest the flowers by hand throughout the summer. The flowers are sticky, a result of their resin content, which is where you’ll find their valuable skin-helping nutrients. I always know when I’ve been picking Calendula! We infuse the flowers into oil as well as use them dried. Calendula has an interesting smell; we also add clove and lavender essential oils to our soap to give it a nice, warming scent.
I really like the way Samara arranged the soap bars in the Calendula photographs. What do you think? Which one is best?