As the weather clears and we revel in the chance to work, play, and romp outdoors, the skin is exposed to a variety of injuries and irritations. Happily, for less than $20 and a trip to the health food store, you can be prepared to deal with most of them quickly and easily. Tinctures of Calendula and Hypericum (also known as St. John’s wort) are the basis for two simple formulas that will be among your favorite and most-used remedies in your holistic medicine chest.
The common herb Calendula is well known for its ability to promote healing of the skin, and Hypericum helps prevent infection while it quiets the nerves to reduce pain and itching. Together they can be added to spring water or an ointment base to make remarkably effective treatments for all sorts injuries including cuts, scrapes, insect bites, and burns. They also soothe and promote healing for hot spots and other internally generated eruptions.
Making a lotion from these wonderful herbs couldn’t be easier. Purchase a small bottle of Calendula tincture and one of Hypericum (St. John’s wort) tincture. They’re usually available in one-ounce bottles for less than $10 each—and one ounce is enough to keep you stocked for years. You’ll also need a small glass jar with a lid that seals tight, and fresh water that has not been treated with chemicals. (If your tap water comes from a municipal water supply, use bottled spring water instead.) Pour ¾ to 1 cup of water in the jar, then add 6 to 8 drops each of your Calendula and Hypericum tinctures. Place the lid on and close it securely, then strike the jar gently but firmly against the palm of your hand or a firm but cushioned (so the jar won’t break) surface 100 times. This process is similar to the “succession” used to make homeopathic remedies—it’s believed to release the energy of the herbs into the water.
Use an eyedropper or a cotton ball to apply the solution to the affected area. If the animal licks the solution, that’s fine; these herbs are also beneficial when taken internally. If possible, allow it to remain on the area for a few minutes, or till it dries. Apply right before a meal or a walk, so your friend will be distracted and unlikely to disturb the application.
The lotion can be applied as often as you like. When treating a cut or a burn that is in an area that can be bandaged safely, make a compress and leave it in place for 24 hours. Here’s how:
- Soak a cotton ball with your Calendula-Hypericum lotion, and apply it to the wound.
- Cover the area loosely with a piece of plastic (such as plastic food wrap) to help keep the cotton ball moist.
- Wrap the area with a flexible bandage, such as VetWrap or an elastic bandage. Leave one edge of the cotton ball exposed so you have access to it. NOTE: Be sure the bandage is not tight enough, and that it cannot slip and become tight enough, to bind the area and restrict circulation.
- As the cotton ball dries out, remoisten it with Calendula-Hypericum lotion.
- Leave the moistened cotton ball in contact with the wound for 24 hours.
One of the benefits of Calendula-Hypericum lotion is it’s ability to dry a cut or oozing skin to create a natural barrier. However, once the area has dried, or if you’re treating a condition that involves a crusty, flaky, or cracked condition, the same tinctures can be used to make an ointment that will soften and moisten the skin while it heals. Start with a base made from one or more of the following:
- Cocoa butter
- Shea butter
- Almond oil
- Vitamin E oil
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Un-Petroleum Jelly
Your base should be firm enough to make it easy to apply, but soft enough at body temperature so that you can apply it without injuring or irritating the damaged tissue. Using a more solid base will ensure the tinctures remain incorporated into the ointment rather than separating out. If you choose a base that is solid at room temperature, such as shea butter, you may wish to warm it slightly and blend it with vitamin E or other oil so that it is easier to manage. Add 6 to 8 drops each of Calendula and Hypericum tinctures to ¼ to ⅓ cup of base. Blend the mixture with a small knife or the handle of a spoon, then stir vigorously 100 strokes. Apply the ointment as often as needed.
In addition to your Calendula-Hypericum lotion, consider giving one or more the following homeopathic remedies orally:
- Arnica, as the first choice with most injuries, to minimize swelling and bruising, relieve pain, and promote healing
- Phosphorus to stop bleeding
- Hypericum to help prevent infection and relieve pain
- Hypericum and Ledum in alternating doses for puncture wounds, to help prevent infection, relieve pain, and promote healing
- Rhus tox for skin eruptions that resemble poison oak or poison ivy
As is always the case with home health care, be on the lookout for circumstances that require professional intervention. Don’t hesitate to seek veterinary assistance if any of the following conditions is present:
- Severe injury
- Severe bleeding
- A deep laceration or puncture wound, or one that is near tendons, ligaments, or bone
- A burn that affects more than the top layer of skin, or that covers a large area
- Risk of infection, or any sign of infection such as pus, redness, swelling, or heat
In time, as you gain experience with the effectiveness and the versatility of your Calendula-Hypericum lotion and ointment, you’ll come to rely on them as staples in your holistic medicine chest. These and other natural remedies can help you and the animals you love enjoy the summer days with confidence, knowing you can manage life’s little bumps and scrapes with a minimum of fuss.