Saturday, October 04, 2008

Calendula's Gold Leaf Food Adornment

When I put a pinch of dried Calendula flowers on Vida's food I'm reminded of the practice of putting gold leaf (yes, real gold) on food in India. It's done for special occasions, and while of course it's decorative, it is edible, and it said to aid digestion.

Well for me, Calendula is far more valuable as a dinner decoration because we know it's medicinal, and it's still pretty.

Calendula is best known as a skin repair herb, and we usually see it as a salve or ointment. It's anti-inflammatory properties work well in the digestive system too. It can be given as a tea or tincture, but I've been experimenting with the dried flower petals (though I'm intrigued with the idea of dogs drinking tea with their meals).

Since I'm studying my herbs more seriously now, I'll list some of the actions of Calendula: anti-inflammatory, stimulates lymph circulation, heals wounds, astringent, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, liver and gallbladder stimulant....

I had a bag of dried Calendula flowers that I brought back from an herb conference, so I added it to Vida's food as an experiment. I felt that the blood cleanser she'd been getting might be irritating her stomach just a bit (it has Poke in it after all), so hoped this simple addition would offset that a bit. I'm making a skin rinse for a friend's dog that will include Calendula, too, so experimentation continues.

It's an easy grower. You want to get seeds or plants identified as calendula officinalis, which is popularly known as Pot Marigold. Then you can use it fresh, or save it dried or as a tincture. I have some seeds that I need to replant - I got the previous generation of seeds from an herbalist in Lakeside, CA who has a wonderful garden. When I went there for an herb walk we were invited to take some Calendula "dead heads" if we liked, and they grew perfectly for me.
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