One of my goals for this year is to increase my knowledge of herbs and dedicate myself to the practice of creating simple home remedies. One of the simplest of herbal remedies that I’m eager to re-visit is a salve.
A salve is a healing balm that is typically made with a few simple ingredients: oil infused with healing herbs of your choice, beeswax, and perhaps some essential oils or Vitamin E oil. Many healing plants can be infused to create a salve, and indeed, some common salve additions such as plantain and dandelion are thought of as weeds! Making homemade salve is a great project to do with kids, or with friends, especially when the process starts with growing a salve garden!
A salve garden can be as simple as two or three plants, or as complex as you’d like. The wonderful thing about healing plants is that so many of them are gorgeous. I grow each of these plants not only for their medicinal properties, but also because each is a stunning addition to my flower beds.
The following plants are extremely easy to grow – many of them will reseed in the garden or grow vigorously as perennials – so they are great choices for your first salve garden.
Five Plants for Your Salve Garden
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a beautiful all-purpose flower that brightens up any garden. I love to pick the petals and put them in salads (they are edible!), and they are great companion plants for beans and lettuce. Calendula’s gentle healing qualities make it useful for minor cuts and scrapes and other skin irritations.
Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is a beautiful edible and medicinal plant whose licorice flavor makes it a lovely addition to teas and sweets. It is also known to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties which makes it a great choice for reducing itching and treating minor wounds.
When we first moved onto our rental property in Oregon, there was a previously established patch of comfrey. Unfortunately, the garden had been neglected a bit, and the comfrey patch had overgrown to the point where I spent years trying to remove comfrey from an area of the garden! Oh, how I wish I had that comfrey patch now! Comfrey is not only a wonderful source of nectar for pollinators, but it is also an incredible mulch, and makes a great “tea” to use in transplanting. Comfrey is high in Calcium and Vitamin C, and is considered to be anti-inflammatory and useful for minor wounds and broken bones.
Applied topically, yarrow is described as being helpful with skin itching and rashes. What I love about yarrow is that it is so easy to grow. I have divided my plant multiple times, and it continues to thrive. Perhaps you have a friend that is already growing yarrow in their garden and would be willing to share with you!
In addition to being a gorgeous perennial flower, Echinacea is famous for its healing properties. Consider using Echinacea when you have minor cuts, burns, stings, or other small wounds. Since coneflowers are native to the Midwest prairie, Echinacea grows extremely well in my garden. It reseeds abundantly, and transplants well.
Susun Weed’s Wise Woman Herbal eZine
* Note: I’m neither a physician, nor a trained herbalist, so please do your own research before using any herbal remedies.
While I’m waiting for my salve garden to grow, I have been enjoying using an Herbal Salve from my friend Colleen of CoCo’s Herbals. Her sweet-smelling salve contains calendula and yarrow flowers, and plantain and comfrey leaves, as well as lavender essential oil. I’ve been using it daily, to moisturize my garden-chapped hands, or to soothe a kid’s bug bite or minor cut. Yesterday, Ella walked through a patch of cleavers, and her legs were all scraped up. I spread a bit of the herbal salve on both legs and it calmed down the inflammation right away! You can find her entire selection of herbal products in her Etsy shop.
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