Earthsong seeds The Breathing Garden Seed Collection
As we absorb much of what we put on our skin, herbal oils are an excellent way to experience the naturally soothing properties of plants. Over the years herbalists have discovered which plants best impart their colourful pigments and essential oils for making massage oils. Whether it’s just for the pleasure or to help you recover after a hard day at work, we have chosen some herbs renowned for replenishing skin, muscles and mood.
The variety of arnica included in the Massage Oil Garden has similar repair and restore properties to the Alpine variety, but is much easier to grow. St John’s wort’s bright yellow flowering tops make an incredible deep red oil when sun-infused over the summer. And calendula’s radiant flowers happily impart their colourful pigments and support. However you enjoy them they will brighten up your day, bring colour to your garden and lustre to your skin.
Species in the collection: Arnica, Meadow; Calendula, Orange; St John's Wort.
How to Use
To make infused oils from your Massage Oil Garden immerse the chosen plant part (e.g. the flowers) in a carrier oil such as organic olive or sunflower oil. They are usually made at proportions of 1 part herb : 4 parts oil and infused for 2 weeks. If using fresh plants you should ‘wilt’ them for 6 hours first to remove some moisture and then strain, ensuring no water remains. The oil can be mixed with bees wax to make a salve (1 part bees wax melted into 10 parts oil) or blended into a cream. You can add a few drops of Vitamin E oil per 100ml to help preserve to oil too.
Infusing the plant in oil allows the lipophilic or fat-loving molecules to cross-over into the base oil. This combination is gently agitated daily and placed in the dark or sunlight (depending on the herb), and or/with warmth to enable the active constituents of the plant to be absorbed. These constituents are the oil-soluble compounds present in the plant including the essential oil phytochemicals. The carrier oil gently softens the plant matter and draws out the healing ingredients. Once the carrier oil has fully absorbed all the precious plant ingredients the mixture is carefully filtered. This process is similar to the long and slow brewing of a tea but a carrier oil and warmth are used rather than hot water.
St John’s wort oil has to be made as a sun-infused oil. Harvest the top 10cm of the flowering tops, cover with olive-oil in a tightly closed jar, and leave infusing for a month in the sun. Make sure all the plant parts are submerged, and when you filter off, allow to settle, and discard the water sitting in the bottom of the jar.
Calendula and arnica flower oils can be made by infusing the fresh flowers and leaving in the dark.
Some oils are also made with gentle heat using what is known as ‘The Digestion Method’. Put the herbs cut or powdered directly in some oil and then warm in a bain-marie for a few hours. For longer ‘digestion’ use an electric thermostatic cooker than keep just be kept at 40C and macerate for a week.
Strain the oil off, leave to settle for a day and then filter to avoid any sediment in your oil.