Healing plants hidden in plain sight

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All around us are healing herbs that we take for granted and in some cases actively try and remove from our gardens. Take a moment to observe and it’s likely that you’ll find some gifts waiting for you in your garden. At this time of year the mallow Malva neglecta and chickweed Stellaria media are growing strong. While these two are delicious edibles they also have healing properties for the skin. Chickweed has the ability to gently heal any skin sensitivities and eliminate growths and cysts from the body. Mallow is also known for its skin healing abilities and getting rid of blemishes and irritation.

To take advantage of these healing properties they can be made into a salve. Salves are really simple ointments made from three main ingredients – plant material, oil and beeswax. This time of year local olive oil is being pressed and it’s easy to source. Beeswax can be picked up from people selling local honey. With a skin healing salve in mind I had a look in the garden to find other plants good for the skin and found:

  • Plantain Plantago lanceolata which has antiseptic qualities and reduces skin irritations from bites and stings.
  • Comfrey Symphytum works by increasing cell production which makes wounds heal quickly.
  • Lavender has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which can help to heal minor burns and bites.
  • Rosemary soothes the skin and is good for eczema and burns.

Another good ingredient to use would be Calendula flowers. These flowers can help with cuts, rashes and burns. This salve can be used for skin irritations, cuts, burns or bites and general skin repair and is applied to skin.

To make the skin healing salve:

  1. Gather clean vibrant plant material.
  2. Chop and dry overnight in a single layer on a tray to remove some of the water.
  3. Place plant material in a clean dry jar and cover with olive oil.
  4. Infuse the herbs into the oil. Infusing herbs can be done in many ways, I heated mine slowly at around 50C for about 9 hours all up over three days.
  5. Strain leaves from oil using some cloth and then place oil back in jar.
  6. Ratio to use is for each cup of oil add 80 grams of wax.
  7. Gently heat the oil and wax to combine.
  8. Once wax is melted, pour into containers for storage, wait until completely cool before putting the lid on.