Harvesting herbs is like harvesting anything from nature: to get the best, you must harvest at the right time. Nevertheless, some herbs have longer harvest window periods than others. Although I was away for much of the summer, I was lucky enough to be home during those precious days at the peak of harvest for my favorite herbs. Today, I spent most of it decanting some of the oils and tinctures that I made during the summer. It always amazes me the beautiful colors the medicinal properties extract in the alcohol and oils.
Since it was a lovely September day, I decided to walk the land to see if there were any more fresh herbs that I could collect to infuse into oil or dry for later use. Every year, I tend to run through my supplies even though I double the batch from the previous year. I love to share and heal. Many herbalists prefer using dried herbs when infusing oil since there is a chance the moisture from the fresh herbs could make the oil go rancid. Nothing is worse than precious medicinal oils going rancid when you need them. However, I do prefer using fresh nonetheless. I have an ideal location to infuse my oils, a windowsill that gets southern exposure on the 2nd floor of my house. The temperature stays rather constant throughout the year, which reduces the likelihood of condensation. However, I do check periodically to make sure. If I find any moisture, I simply wipe it away with a clean cloth.
Today, I gathered more Goldenrod (Solidago spp.), Comfrey (Symphytum officnale), and Calendula (Calendula offficnalis) to infuse into organic cold pressed olive oil and some to dry. I have developed two fantastic salves over the years. I found that combining Goldenrod, St. Johns wort (Hypericum perforatum) and Arnica (Arnica spp.) infused oils, makes a fantastic pain relief salve. It seems to relieve just about all muscular aches and pains, as well as arthritis. St. John’s wort is a nerve pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, and helps cells regenerate. Arnica stimulates the flow of white blood cells that process congested blood and by dispersing trapped fluid from joints, muscles and bruised tissue. Goldenrod’s anti-inflammatory effect relieves muscle pains and aches including arthritis. My little salve is aptly named Pain Begone!
My other salve is made from Calendula and Comfrey to nourish and soothe dry, damaged skin. Calendula is a powerful wound healer and promotes cell repair while its antiseptic properties keep infections from occurring. It helps heal wounds faster by increasing oxygen flow to the damaged area, which in turn helps the body grow new tissue. It also stimulates collagen production to help heal the body’s tissues. It is high in flavonoids (plant-based anti-oxidants) that protect cells from being damaged by free radicals. Comfrey fosters the growth of new cells and is anti-inflammatory as well as mucilaginous, which soothes inflamed tissues. I call this salve, Soothe Thy Skin.
It was a lovely day to spend outside and visit with all the plants. The plants seemed to be dancing in the gentle breeze and enjoying the sunny skies as much as me. It was perfect day for medicine making. Now, I believe I will have enough oils and dry plants to last me until next years harvest.