Natural remedies like herbal tinctures, salves, teas and other remedies you can make at home fascinate me. Sometimes homemade natural remedies can be more effective than their over-the-counter pharmacy counterparts, like when I made treats with CBD for dogs for my pup – and realized it did more to ease his lung trauma than anything the veterinarian recommended.
Take this homemade calendula salve (recipe below), for example. More natural than triple antibiotic ointments made with petroleum jellies, this is one of many natural remedies you can make at home to sooth minor scrapes or cuts and help them heal up quite nicely. At least, that’s been my experience. Your mileage may vary. My family, for one, believes that this calendula salve works more quickly than triple antibiotic ointment to help heal minor scrapes and cuts. In fact, when my boys get minor injuries while at play, they don’t want anything else. (Okay, maybe a hug.) Why are they so attached to it?
Because they helped make it! That’s the glory of natural remedies you can make at home. Your children are more willing to use them than “normal” medicine because they’ve helped concoct them!
Natural Remedies: An Example
As promised, here’s the recipe for one of my family’s favorite natural remedies — a homemade calendula salve*:
- 2 Cups Calendula Petals (not the entire flower “heads”) (where to buy calendula petals)
- 1 Cup Hemp Oil, Olive Oil, or Coconut Oil (where to buy quality oils)
- 1/4 Cup Beeswax Pastilles/Pellets (where to buy organic beeswax pastilles)
- 10 Drops Lavender Essential Oil (where to buy essential oils)
Pour calendula petals into a stainless steel pot, and add oil. Turn on low heat, and stir to combine. Watch for tiny bubbles in the oil to gauge the temperature- it should not get any warmer than the “tiny bubbles stage!” (Try to keep it under 100 F, approximately.)
Continue stirring occasionally over the next 2 hours, keeping the oil gently warm.
Meanwhile, begin gently melting the beeswax in the top of a double boiler (don’t let this get too hot; you’ll want it to be a similar temperature as the oil, when you combine the two).
After 2 hours, strain the petals from the oil. (You can use a fine-meshed strainer, coffee/tea filters, or cheesecloth.) Squeeze/press out as much of the oil as you can into a bowl. Then slowly pour the oil into the melted beeswax in the double boiler, stirring to combine. Then stir in the drops of lavender essential oil. (The oil acts as a “preservative,” as well as being a healing and calming ingredient.)
Pour the warm oil into small jars/containers, and allow to cool. Avoid using clear glass, if possible. Choose containers that will help protect the salve from sunlight. Store in a cool place.
*This recipe is taken from Michele Augur’s book Herbal Nurturing: A Family Healing And Learning Guide.
Natural Remedies: Why Make Them?
- Making natural remedies can be a fun and educational way to involve the whole family. As in my example above, my boys are thrilled to take the medicines they help make. It doesn’t get any better than that!
- Natural remedies are just that — natural. You don’t have to worry about strange chemical compounds that serve as the base — like petroleum-based ointments.
- When you make natural remedies at home, you can control exactly what goes into them. That means you can use entirely organic ingredients, use the essential oils that you prefer the scent of, and more.
- Making natural remedies costs far less than buying them! If you are a lover of natural remedies, you may be surprised at how easy and inexpensive they are to make at home. Why pay $15 for an herbal salve that you can make for mere pennies?
Natural Remedies: How To Make Them
You can learn a lot online, researching various natural remedies, reading first hand testimonials about what homemade natural remedies worked for someone and which other so-called natural remedies were total hooey.
OR, you could buy a book from a trusted authority on the subject.
May I introduce you to such a book? Researched and written by Michele Augur of Frugal Granola (a fun Real Food lovin’ blog), the book is called Herbal Nuturing: A Family Healing And Learning Guide. The e-book is available as an instant download, so within minutes of purchase you’ll have access to everything you’ll need to naturally prepare for cold/flu season, PMS, headaches, sunburns, postpartum, tummy aches, rashes, and more with over 30 recipes, additional homeopathic suggestions, and healthy-living tips.
It’s also a smokin’ good deal at just $8.95!
This holiday season, why not give the gift of homemade natural remedies? It’s part of my own personal plan to give frugal, loving, and thoughtful presents. I’ll be making a few big batches of some of the most useful natural remedies from Michele’s e-book, then dividing them up into cute little containers and giving them in little baskets to my loved ones.
Please note, I *am* making a small commission if you buy the book through a link from my site. So, THANK YOU! I’m sure you’ll find it just as valuable an addition to your home as I do.
(photo by pbouchard)
Anyone know of a natural remedy for ringworm? I am currently applying honey topped with minced garlic in olive oil. I am really not seeing results, although I know that even the over the counter remedies take up to 4 weeks.
I have been using coconut oil on my ringworm. Apply morning and evening. It’s been about 3 weeks and its almost gone!
Thank you for your kind response. I will have to try that.
City Share says
Thanks for the great salve recipe. I’ll have to give it a try.
Michele @ Frugal Granola says
What a great idea for Christmas gifts! 🙂 I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book (and the salve)! Thanks for the sweet post & link to my book.
I love giving consumables — food mixes, homemade jams/jellies/extracts, and now this!
I have some tips to add to the recipe:
Use dry petals so that you avoid introducing water into the oil which can cause bacteria and mold to form. Use a slow cooker on the “Warm” setting to infuse the oil with the calendula overnight. Pour the oil and petal mixture into a clean and dry juicer, cap and then turn on so that the centrifugal action helps extract the oil from the plant matter. Then pass the oil through a coffee filter to strain out particles. If you can’t find beeswax pastilles/pellets, just grate a block of beeswax. Don’t use hemp seed oil as it oxidizes very quickly, especially when exposed to heat. If you use olive oil add some vit E mixed tocopherols to retard oxidation. You can also use a small amount of Rosemary Oil Extract (ROE).
Maggie — That’s interesting. I had thought that the heat was low enough at 100F (lower than the outside temperature quite often during some parts of the year) that it was well below these oils’ smoke points where they would start to oxidize. I’ve always made this with coconut oil, but I’d understood that the hemp or olive oils were viable options, too.
I don’t believe the oils will need to heat up to smoke point before they will start to oxidize 😉 The unsaturated fatty acids are quite unstable as they are (cold) and will open if there’s oxygen present. Heating makes the ‘bonds’ between the molecules even looser and in this case more unstable.
I’d say hemp oil should be fine if you use it as a cold infusion with the dry petals (but that takes up to 8 weeks so it’s not suitable for last-minute gifts), and you may want to gently heat it apart from the beeswax.
Beeswax needs a higher heating point, which doesn’t matter when you use olive, sesame or coconut oil as a base, but with hemp, you want to heat as little as possible. Alternatively, you may want to use soy wax and waterfree lanolin (adeps lanae anhydricus) as a thickening agent for your hemp-oil-balms; they require lower heating so your hemp oil stays intact. It will have a shorter shelf life than balms made out of beeswax and olive oil though, because it will stay more ‘liquid’ and thus more prone to oxidation. Keep in a cool and dark place and close the lid well, then it should last up to 9 months or a year even. A good beeswax balm will last up to two or three years when unopened 🙂
(semi-professional balm-maker here… I’ve done some research on the subject 😉 )
Oh and now that I’m in my writing mode – I’d use a bit less bees wax in the recipe myself. Uusually (counting with oils like olive, sesame or almond) 10% beeswax will give you a very soft, but greasy balm. 25% wax will make you lipbalm. I think I’d try 1/5 of a cup in this case. In my experience, oils with more unsaturated fatty acids will need more wax to harden up to the same point an olive oil balm would. So avocado, hemp and the like need a different approach altogether 🙂
Michele @ Frugal Granola says
Thanks for the tips, Maggie!
You can see some of my further advice regarding the petals and oils at the original post here: http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2010/09/homemade-calendula-salve.html (This is also linked in the book, for reference.) As I mention there, you definitely want dry petals to avoid molds.
You’re right; Hemp Oil does oxidize quickly. I keep mine refrigerated to help avoid this. We go through the salve very quickly, so this isn’t an issue. If you want something that has a longer shelf life, coconut oil is a great option.
I use Hemp Oil because of its incredible amount of Essential Fatty Acids, and easy absorption into the skin. This makes it especially nourishing for skin conditions.
Vitamin E oil and ROE are wonderful natural preservatives. I actually recommend the vitamin E oil in other recipes in this book. For this recipe, I have found the lavender essential oil to be a sufficient preservative, but you could obviously add the additional oils, if desired.
The heart of this book is to stick to the basics and keep things simple; involving children as much as possible.
Grated beeswax is a wonderful option if you don’t have pellets. I’ve used that myself on occasion. That just adds an extra step.
Also, many people do not have the luxury of specialized electric kitchen equipment (including myself). As we live sustainably, and have family members living solely with solar power, items like crockpots and juicers aren’t necessarily an option. The juicer sounds like a fun idea, if you have one! 🙂
I have had difficulty finding a crockpot that stays consistently below 100 degrees. If you have one, that is certainly a fabulous option. I actually recommend that in other recipes in this book.
The temperature of “under 100 degrees” is often referred to as “blood warm,” in keeping it at a comfortable “body temperature,” and certainly below the oxidation/smoke point of the oils.
I appreciate your comment! 🙂
Stacy, Ringworm is a fungus, and tea tree oil is an antifungal, as well as antibacterial.
Sounds great but where do you get the Calendula Petals? Do you grow your own? I didn’t this year so was wondering where I might get some so I could try this now. I tried mountain rose herbs but as far as I can tell, it is the whole flower.
I do grow my own. If I were you, I’d first try calling local plant nurseries to see what’s available around me. If that fails, I’d check out online suppliers like Mountain Rose Herbs. Although they don’t have JUST the petals, it seems like it would be as easy to separate the petals as it would be when you’re doing it from a flower you harvested from your patio.
Thanks for this review and recipe for the salve. I know what flower I will be adding to my garden next year! 🙂
My family has been doing this for years, and we agree that it works so much faster and better! We have our own “wound salve”, lavender oil and calendula oil and hypericum oil too just for certain things.
There are many different varieties of calendula flowers. Is there a specific variety that is better for making the salve?