I've been doing a little wildcrafting as it is sometimes called -- gathering herbs and wildflower to use medicinally. I have never done this before except in a very small way using natural oils for my Homemade Bee Balm, but never have I tried infusing oil with wild herbs and garden herbs before. I made an infused oil using four herbs: calendula, yarrow, plantain, and rosemary. It's really not hard at all to do, and I'm anxious to see how well the healing ointments turn out. Above are some calendula flower petals that I picked at OnlyDaughter's house. I had a few calendula growing in my own garden, but not as many as she did. I also gathered a few seeds to save for next spring's planting. I have had calendula flowers growing for many years in my flower beds and oftentimes they were the only flowers growing on especially dry years. I didn't realize until recently that they are very healing for the skin when infused into oils and ointments. Before I go on, you must enlarge the above photo and notice that I took the photo on a local, small-town newspaper. The rural communities supply the paper with their own weekly news of pot lucks, haying, brandings, doctor appointments, and the like. I thought it appropriate that someone went to the "pain doctor." Maybe they should try my wildcrafted oils and oinments?
Calendula flowers are known to be one of the best healing herbs used in creams and salves to sooth diaper rash, eczema, cuts and skin abrasions, burns, and sunburn. Yarrow is a wildflower that grows everywhere here on the ranch and is known for its antiseptic properties as well as blood clotting properties. In Greek mythology, Achillies used yarrow to treat the wounds of fallen comrades. Most folks have plantain weed growing in their lawn grass. Little did I know that plantain leaves can be bruised and put directly onto cuts and wounds, stings and rashes to bring natural healing. They also possess natural antimicrobial properties. One of my favorite garden herbs is rosemary. I love to use it in rubs for my winter beef roasts and pork loins, but did you know it can also help reduce the pain of sprains and arthritis? It can be used for sore aching muscles and is said to stimulate circulation when used as a massage oil. It is also considered one of the best hair tonics.
Infusing Oil with Herbs
There are two ways to infuse oil with herbs. You can either combine the herbs and the olive oil in a jar with an airtight lid and leave 3-4 weeks, shaking daily or heat the herbs and olive oil together over very low heat in a double boiler for 3 hours until the oil is very green. I put my herbs and olive oil into a 16 oz. mason jar and then set it in my crock pot on "warm" for 3-4 hours. Next, strain the herbs from the oil by pouring through a cheesecloth, old tea towel or coffee filter. I immediately added about 1/2 teaspoon of grapefruit seed extract to my jar of oil to help preserve it. You can also use a few capsules of vitamin E to do the same. At this point, I can use the oil "as is" for treating any skin problems like burns, rash, cuts, and blisters or I can use this infused oil in creams and salves for dry skin, chapped lips, diaper rash cream or for healing salve. I intend to use it in my old Bee Balm recipe for part of the oil called for in the recipe. I call it "bee balm" because the beeswax in it gives it a honey smell. If you would rather not mess with infusing oil as I did, you can always add a few drops of different essential oils to your homemade creams and salves. I use those too and find the NOW brand of essential oils to be good and affordable. A little essential oil goes a long, long way.
Below I'm including some links that I thought were especially helpful for making homemade oinments and butters with natural ingredients and herbs. Enjoy!