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Herbs & Nutrition
One of my all time favorite herbs is Calendula officinalis. Its uses are widespread and its brightly colored blooms bring so much joy!
Calendula contains a wide variety of medicinally active compounds and medicinal uses, today we are focusing on its wound healing ability.
Studies show1 that when taken internally, calendula extract increases the amount of collagen around wounds, which aids in the speeding up the healing process. For many women who are concerned about pregnancy related stretch marks, anything that supports increasing collagen, a protein found in high quantities in the skin and responsible for skin's strength, has the potential to reduce stretch marks.
When it comes to diaper rash, I have found no better formula than delicate yet powerful calendula oil applied directly to baby's skin. In addition to healing damaged skin, calendula also has anti-microbial properties and can help prevent rashy skin from becoming infected skin. I know hundreds of other moms who are loyal to calendula for their own baby's bottoms!
Calendula is easy to grow in a wide variety of regions and can be used in many forms - the dried flowers can be added to soups or made into tea, or they can be immersed in oil for 6-8 weeks to make a topical oil.
To make an oil infusion, simply fill a glass jar with well dried flowers, cover with a light oil like safflower, sunflower or apricot seed. Cover and store in a dark area. Check on the oil daily to ensure the flowers are submerged in the oil to reduce the chance of mold. In 6-8 weeks, strain your oil extract and use it liberally for stretch marks or diaper rash.
You can also add the dried flowers to soup to add extra amino acids to your diet and further benefit your skin. Healing from the inside out is nature's specialty!
If you don't want to make your oil calendula product, don't worry! There are lots of great brands on the market. Weleda Calendula Cream is a staple in our house and there are other great brands on the market MJ's Herbals and California Baby.
Calendula is shown to be very effective and yet very mild and safe for most people, though a small number of people may experience an allergy, so test a small patch on your or your baby's skin first before applying it further.
If you love calendula, let us know how you use it on ourfacebook page!
Listen to more about herbs for pregnancy in my 2-part podcast series on the Unschooled Homebirth podcast, Episode 17 & Episode 19, wherever you get podcasts.
1J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2009;20(1):73-9. Wound healing activity of flower extract of Calendula officinalis.Preethi KC, Kuttan R.
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