Calendula is a very useful herbal flower and very easy to grow, even for non-gardeners. Here’s a recipe for calendula earache oil from flowers we gathered clear into autumn. Be sure to check out all the other things you can make a do with calendula after the recipe!
How Do I Make Earache Oil?
Making earache oil is a simple process of infusing herbs in a carrier oil. Let’s start with definitions:
Infusion=an HERBAL infusion is a preparation where the properties of herbal plants are transferred to a specific medium like water or oil. If you’ve ever made a cup of herbal tea, you’ve made a kind of herbal infusion more appropriately called a fomentation because it was performed with hot water. With an oil infusion, the process is basically the same but you replace hot water with room temperature or warm oil.
Carrier Oil= refers to the oil of choice for your infusion. Herbal oil infusions can be made at room temperature or at warm (but not boiling) temperatures.
The simple process of making an infused earache oil is:
- Place dried herbs into a sterile jar and add enough carrier oil to cover them.
- Let them sit for 1-2 months in a cool dark place to infuse.
- Strain out the herbs and bottle the oil to use by dropper.
A more detailed explanation follows in the recipe, but that is the basic process. You may also speed up this process by heating the oil; directions follow.
Which Oil is Best for Earaches?
Common and high quality oils used for infusions include olive oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil and even coconut oil. Because the potential for wax build up can be a problem in the tight spaces of an ear, I prefer a light oil like avocado for earache oil.
If I’m infusing oil for wound salves, I prefer something a little heavier, like olive oil, to mix with beeswax to make a firm salve.
What is Calendula Flower Good For?
Yes, even flowers can have wellness actions! Here are some of Calendula’s many virtues:
- Calendula is called “pot marigold” because it grows well it containers
- It comes in many shades of yellow, orange and even peach
- The flowers grow abundantly and respond well to cutting in that they’ll continue to produce blooms throughout the season the more you harvest; my plants typically slow down in the extreme heat of our Missouri summers but they pop back into production once fall comes
- Calendula will bloom until the frosts set in and will often reseed itself into the garden for next year, provided your winter isn’t too extreme.
- The blooms are edible, having a slightly peppery taste and looking gorgeous in salads
- Calendula is also used as a natural dye source.
Calendula for Skin
Most important for our discussion today, Calendula is a wellness herb, being very useful in healing anything having to do with your skin – blemishes, cuts, scrapes, etc. It is simple to dry for medicinal and beauty use. Simply cut the blooms below the head and dry on a screen or dehydrator rack. I usually just air dry, but you can dehydrate them, too. Here are five ways to preserve calendula.
For more information on learning to grow calendula, please visit this article from Lovely Greens.
There are a host of other useful flowers that can be harvested this time of year; to learn more about them, visit this article from us here at Homestead Lady.
If you’re interested in learning about a few more herbs you can grow in pots, please give our publication, Herbs in the Bathtub, a try! You don’t need to know how to grow 100 herbs to grow a successful home apothecary. You don’t even need a lot of space! Let us show you how to grow herbs wherever you live, in whatever space you have.
Making Quality Calendula Earache Oil
I recommend you use dried herbs for oil infusions to keep them as water-free as possible. As Colleen Codekas teaches in her fine book, Healing Herbal Infusions,
“There are many methods for infusing herbs into oil, and some definitely work better than others. One big problem is that the oil can go rancid or become moldy if done incorrectly. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid that. The main thing to remember is to keep light, heat and water away from your herbal oil.”
Using dried ingredients, clean containers and equipment and fresh oil will ensure that your herbal oil is healing and helpful this coming winter.
This calendula earache oil should only be used in case of general ear infection and/or ear wax build up. Never put anything into your child’s ear if you suspect a perforated ear drum or if there’s any discharge from the ear. Using a otoscope (which can be purchased online and at local pharmacies) can help you check the condition of your child’s ear drum.
If you have any concerns please see your qualified medical professional. Be the smart parent you are. FYI, Here’s my standard disclaimer for all herbal recipes and health advice:
Calendula Earache Oil Recipe
This recipe is super, duper simple and has only a few ingredients. You can feel free to substitute ingredients as your herb cupboard and your herbal knowledge allow. Here’s a great article from The Herbal Academy on mixing up your herbs for an effective earache oil – click here.
For example, I could have used the St. John’s Wort that grows wild where I live instead of the mullein (which also grows wild where I live) in this recipe. Herbs are so versatile and user-friendly!
- 1/3 Cup Calendula flowers, dried
- 1/4 Cup Mullein flowers or leaves, dried
- 1/4 Cup Usnea Optional
- 2 Tbsp. Garlic, dried, not powdered
- Carrier oil, enough to cover herbs by at least one inch
- Add the herbs and then the oil into a pint jar. Lightly pack down the herbs and cover with the oil by at least one inch.
- Cover the jar with a lid and shake very well. Shake periodically over the next several weeks.
- Put in a cool, dark place for 4-8 weeks. The herbs can infuse longer, if you forget about them. Oops! Done that myself. Be sure to continually check for mold or other problems.
- Strain out the herbs with a fine muslin or sieve. Resist the temptation to squeeze out the last drop of oil to prevent herb particles getting into your earache oil. You do NOT want herbal particles in your ear. I usually hang my herbs in a muslin bag over night to let gravity strain them for me.
- Place the oil in a jar, cap, and store in a cool dark place. Use within a year.
- To use, warm gently in a heated spoon before application. Have your child tilt their head to the side so the oil doesn't run out and use a dropper to place several drops into the ear canal. Place a cotton ball just inside the ear to keep the oil in place. Gently massage the outside of the ear, if the patient will allow it. You can do this several times a day to help with pain and infection. You should see improvement with 12-24 hours. If you don't, see your medical professional.
Fresh herbs are not recommended for use in oil infusions because of the likelihood that they will mold and otherwise retain moisture.
For a quicker, stove-top infusion, please see the article directly below this recipe.
Keep your hands, the ear drop applicator and the oil clean and free of debris and dirt.
In her book, Healing Herbal Infusions, Colleen Codekas recommends only 1 to 2 drops of earache oil for children under the age of 8. Her recipe, on page 86 of her book, is slightly different - even easier, actually - and can be consulted for more information and advice.
To Make an Herbal Infused Oil Quicker – the Heat Method
The recipe is exactly the same for this method but you will be warming your herbs and oil together for a quick infusion, as opposed to letting it sit for weeks. I prefer to use the slow method of infusion when I can because I feel it draws out more of the herbal properties. However, sometimes you’re in a hurry and need a soothing infusion ASAP.
- Gather your herbs, oil and a double boiler (one sauce pan that will nest inside a slightly larger sauce pan):
- Fill the bottom of the double boiler halfway with water and nest the smaller pan inside it.
- Place on medium heat and continue to watch the water level of the lower pan so that it doesn’t run out. If you need to add more, use hot water to top up. If the pots are so similar in depth that water might pop up into the upper pot, only fill the lower pot to a quarter of its depth. You do NOT want water in your infused oi.
- Put the herbs and oil inside the top, smaller pot and heat together for one hour at a temperature range of 120F°/ °C. Do NOT overheat.
Strain and bottled as per the recipe.
Calendula Earache Oil Ingredients and Information
We’ve discussed the benefits of calendula, but what about these other herbs?
The flowers of mullein are typically used for earache remedies, but mullein is a powerful herb for many issues. Mullein is an anti-inflammatory which makes it beneficial for alleviating pain. It is also a wonderful herb for sore throats or any bronchial problem. To learn more about how to identify and use mullein, read this thorough article from Joybilee Farm.
Can you use mullein leaves if you don’t have flowers? Yes, but the flowers are recommended. I can’t find anything in my literature to explain why but my supposition is twofold:
- The flowers are more effective at treating earache.
- The flowers aren’t encumbered by the tiny, possibly abrasive and irritating to the ear, hairs that the leaves have.
Having said that, however, for this batch of calendula earache oil I didn’t have any mullein flowers because they’d faded for the season and I’d neglected to gather enough. Consequently, I used mullein leaf, which is also effective. HOWEVER, as I said in the recipe, I’m careful not to wring my herbs as I filter them so that I avoid getting any herbal particles into my oil.
Learning and Yearning can help you learn more about foraging mullein, as well as teach you how to use if for coughs.
What on earth is usnea, you ask? Usnea is a lichen and, especially if you live in the Pacific Northwest, you’ve seen it hanging from trees as you hike around the woods. To learn more about usnea, please visit this link from Nitty Gritty Life.
Usnea has incredible antibiotic and antiviral properties which makes it wonderful for fighting infection. Collen even talks about usnea on her blog – please visit this link from Grow, Forage, Cook, Ferment. Also, be sure to check out her book, – I’ve added it to my home apothecary book shelf!
Garlic has long been hailed as a wonder herb for its many medicinal properties including those as an:
- basically anti-anything that wants to make you ill
I recommend reading more on the benefits of garlic in Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health – another great book to have on hand! Incidentally, Rosemary’s recommendation for Colleen’s book is right there in that dark blue circle on the cover. Just a cool, little thing to know.
Grow garlic easily in the garden with this informative article by Family Food Garden – click here.