Pot Marigolds Good for Your Skin

pot marigold (Calendula officinalis)

pot marigold (Calendula officinalis)

“Herbal Remedy Gardens” (G Books, 1999) is a book that any gardener, whatever novice or expert, would treasure as a holiday gift. While author Dorie Byers addresses the subject of herb gardens in particular, her book also provides an excellent general introduction to the fundamental principles and practices of horticulture, from soil preparation to pest control, as well as historical and anecdotal tidbits for each plant that is mentioned.
Scores of books on plants are published each year, and a majority of them, I am convinced, are never read. The problem with most plant books is that they are too ambitious. So many plants are discussed that you get dizzy trying to remember even a fraction of their names; so much information is presented that, before you can sort it out, you become buried underneath it.
In “Herbal Remedy Gardens,” only 22 plants, all of which can be grown in the Valley, are discussed. Several plants from this group are selected for each of the herb gardens described.
There is a very simple blueprint offered for each garden. And for those who grow plants on patios or balconies, there is a sketch of an equivalent container garden that includes each of the recommended species.
A “headache relief garden” includes lemon balm, feverfew, lavender and chamomile. Lemon balm, one of the easiest herbs to grow in partial sun, will cure a tension headache if two teaspoons of its fresh leaves are soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes and the resulting tea is slowly sipped.
A “mouth care garden” consists of dill or fennel, parsley, thyme and sage. Two breath fresheners are recommended: a sprig of parsley that is thoroughly chewed (swallow it for the vitamin C), or a teaspoon of dill or fennel seeds that is thoroughly chewed and swallowed. Luckily for us, fennel has planted itself in open areas all over Los Angeles. Fennel is that soft and frizzy leafed specimen whose crushed leaves smell like licorice. It grows up to 5 feet tall and flourishes by the side of the road, especially on the west side of Topanga Canyon Boulevard between Mulholland Drive and Pacific Coast Highway. Relief for canker sores comes from the antibacterial action of thyme; steep two teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves in a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes before gargling with the infusion.
In a “traveler’s herb garden,” four plants are grown that will cure just about every travel-related malady. Ginger is an antidote to stomach problems and is appropriate for gastrointestinal upset or travel sickness. Echinacea should be taken at the first sign of an approaching cold or flu. Chamomile makes it easier to relax and fall asleep. Aloe is useful for minor sunburn, cuts and insect bites.
Details are given for preparing the useful parts of each plant – such as the roots of ginger and echinacea – for the specific medicinal purposes you have in mind.
For skin problems, plant Calendula. Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is a popular annual this time of year. Its petals, which are orange or yellow, have strong anti-bacterial properties. The author gives instructions for preparing a salve that contains calendula petals and claims that it is effective on rashes and acne and beneficial to oily skin in general.

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