Healing Herbal Salves: Chickweed, Calendula and Cannabis

    The growing season can provide many different medicines straight from your yard or garden, sometimes wild and sometimes cultivated. Here are a few of my favorites to make for our family from our farm:

    Chickweed Salve

    Chickweed is a wild, edible "weed" that pops up in the cool weather of late winter and early spring in our area of Northern California. Nutritious {full of trace minerals and vitamins} and delicious in a salad, Chickweed applied topically also has a cooling, drying and healing effect on the skin which can aid in treatment of minor burns, cuts, rashes and bug bites. Also acting as an astringent, a compress of fresh Chickweed is helpful in pulling out splinters. Chickweed can be identified by the single line of hairs that run along the stalk and the cute white flowers that bloom with maturity.

    To make a topical salve, cut your desired amount of plant, equal to the volume of oil you will be using, and allow to wilt overnight. Wilting the Chickweed decreases the moisture content, which decreases the chance of spoiling your infusion while still allowing the fresh properties of the plants to be used. After wilting overnight, cover the chickweed in the oil{s} of your choice for infusion. I also like to run this through the blender a bit to really increase the surface area of the plant for infusion. To maximize the strength of the infusion, using a crock pot on the lowest setting {‘warm’ on my model} heat the chickweed and oil mixture until dark green in color, over several hours. Once infused and darkened in color, strain the solids out with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Mix 1 cup of infused oil with 1oz of beeswax {more in very hot climates} to create a solid salve and store in a glass jar or metal tins.

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    Calendula Salve

    Calendula not only makes for bright and cheery flowers in the garden, the edible petals can add some fun to a salad and make a healing salve to use year round. Calendula comes in a range of colors from yellows, to pinks, to oranges. Calendula has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, a muscle relaxer, antimicrobial, and to promote wound healing. Think of it like a herbal Neosporin! Calendula is very easy to grow and easily reseeds itself for years of harvests. To make a topical salve you’ll want to harvest the flowers just after blooming and before setting seeds, cut at the bottom of the flower head right where it meets the stem. The more you cut, the more will bloom! Dry these flower heads where they have good airflow {to prevent mold} until fully dry, then infuse the oil{s} of your choice over a period of weeks until your infusion is golden in color. Strain the spent flowers through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth and either compost the flowers or I sometimes feed them to my chickens for any leftover nutrition. Mix 1 cup of this infused oil with 1oz of beeswax {more in very hot climates} and store in glass jars or metal tins.

    Cannabis Salve

    Another favorite topical salve of mine is cannabis salve for pain, healing and more. For more details on the why and the how you can find my article on cannabis here.

    If DIY isn’t your thing but you would like the benefits of either chickweed or calendula salve, you can find both in my Etsy shop here, straight from our farm!

    Growing, harvesting and crafting homemade salves can be a rewarding and easy way to incorporate more of nature into your life.

    Nicole Wilkey transitioned from a corporate job to small-scale farmer in 2015. Since then she has run California basedFlicker Farmto accommodate meat pigs, mini Juliana pigs, pasture based poultry and sellsgoats milk soap and lotion on Etsy. Connect with Nicole onInstagramand.

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