Thursday, September 5, 2013

Calendula Salve & Recipe

Calendula salve is something that should be in everyone's medicine cabinet. I've used it a few times in years past, but have become a faithful user in the last couple years on some skin issues stemming from post thrombotic syndrome in one of my legs..  It's very therapeutic, and can be used for a wide variety of things with great success.
What is Calendula? "Calendula" is Calendula Officinalis. Also know as the Marigold or Pot Marigold. Before you turn up your nose and think "EWWWWWWWWWWWWW! No way!", this may not be the same plant you think of when you hear "Marigold". I know its not for me.

To me, Tagetes, is a Marigold and the first thing that comes to my mind at the mention of "Marigold". The stinky flowers in everyone's garden that you'd never dream of having inside the house because of their distinctive foul odor. Thankfully, this isn't the flower were talking about.
Calendula Officinalis
Calendula Officinalis is the specie of Marigold that we need. I have only bought the commercial products, but after more searching and talking to some friends, I decided to take the plunge and make my own after learning more about which plant specie and variety was the one needed to try making my own salve. 

  • Calendula is known for its benefits on the skin, and has been used as an anti-microbial(both antibacterial & anti-viral), anti-fungal, used for burns and irradiated skin, bruises, soreness, cracked dry skin, eczema, cooling to inflammation, diaper rash, and skin ulcers. It can help reduce bleeding and is great for varicose veins. I use it mainly for the veinous ulcers that come and go on one of my legs after having compromised cirrculation after several DVT's. Calendula salve has worked better than any of the topical ointments and treatments I have used from the doctor.  I also have started using it on diaper rash on my little ones with great success!

So, I ordered Organic Calendula Officinalis off You could easily order from anywhere online or pickup some at any herbal or whole foods store. Just make sure that you get Certified Organic, then you wont have to worry about what kind of pesticides were used on the flowers and ending up in your salve.  Same goes for your Coconut oil. Organic is the way to go. You can use other good quality Organic oils to make your salve, it does not need to be Coconut, but the unrefined coconut works wonderful and adds alittle extra to the smell.

Fill your glass jars with the Caldendula flowers. Make sure not to pack them in tight, so the flowers have room to expand when the oil is added.

Add your carrier oil of choice. In this case, I used Nutiva Organic Coconut, which is a solid below 76*.  Warming up the oil to become a liquid, then using a funnel to pour the oil into the jars containing the flowers.

Then into the Crockpot. I filled the water to about half way up the sides of the jars, and turned the crockpot on low. 3 Days of warming the oil and flowers to speed up the process.

After the Calendula has infused for 3 days(give or take), you can strain it with a fine metal mesh strainer, a cheesecloth or thin dish rag.  I prefer the cheesecloth or rag because you can squeeze out the flowers and get the very last of the infused oil out of them.

Store in a cool dark place. 

How to make a basic salve-
 A salve or ointment, is a combination of an oil or fat that has been infused with herbs or flowers and bees wax. The oil works as a solvent to draw out the therapeutic properties of the herb and creates a healing and soothing base to build other products with besides just the salve I'm making today.  By adding the bees wax(or another emulsion wax you have on hand) it helps to solidify the wonderful healing infused oil and make it apply and have around without creating a big old sticky mess. The bees wax also adds some natural moisturizers, a protective element that helps with inflammation, irritation and dryness. Its also been found to have an antioxidant quality which is a great addition to everything.

The basic salves I make are generally 4 parts carrier or infused oil to 1 part bees wax or other emulsion agent. 1 cup carrier to 1/4 cup wax... or 1/2 cup carrier to 1/8th cup  wax.

Add the bee's wax to the infused oil in a double boiler. Slowly warming and stirring the oil & wax until wax melts. After the wax is melted and mixed well with the oil pour into containers and let cool, stirring occasionally until its starts to solidify. Store in a cool dry place. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Safe Essential Oil Dilutions

I went on vacation for almost 2 weeks, and have been slacking and trying to get caught back up since I got home.

I'm constantly amazed by the amount of people using essential oils neat on their own skin. This is especially common in the world of the multi-level-marketing (MLM) essential oils. Focus is placed on selling volume, and not nearly enough on the safety aspect of EOs. Useage of EOs neat is when their used undiluted on the skin.

Just today I saw a picture of a young boy, who had used a blend made to be used for ADD or ADHD along the spine undiluted in a roller bottle. The young boy had the hyperpigment(darkened skin) along his spine where the blend was used.

An example of photo-sensitization with essential oil:

The bottle was from a very large company, which also has no warning or dilution instructions. Lime is KNOWN to be phototoxic even in minute amounts, but there were no warnings nor mention on the companies website and pages about the oil. Not only is this unsafe its negligent in the simplest form. gives a great rundown on photo-sensitization
An essential oil that exhibits this quality will cause burning or skin pigmentation changes, such as tanning, on exposure to sun or similar light (ultraviolet rays). Reactions can range from a mild color change through to deep weeping burns. Do not use or recommend the use of photosensitizing essential oils prior to going into a sun tanning booth or the sun. Recommend that the client stay out of the sun or sun tanning booth for at least twenty-four hours after treatment if photosensitizing essential oils were applied to the skin. Certain drugs, such as tetracycline, increase the photosensitivity of the skin, thus increasing the harmful effects of photosensitizing essential oils under the necessary conditions. Table 3 lists some common essential oils considered to be photosensitizers.

Photosensitizers (Table 3)

Essential OilLatin Name
Angelica rootAngelica archangelica
BergamotCitrus bergamia
CuminCuminum cyminum
Distilled grapefruitCitrus paradisi
Expressed lemonCitrus limon
Expressed limeCitrus medica
Distilled orangeCitrus sinensis
Distilled tangerineCitrus reticulata
VerbenaLippia citriodora

Non-phototoxic citrus oils (Table 4)

Essential OilLatin Name
Bergamot: Bergapteneless
(FCF: Furanocoumarin Free)
Citrus bergamia
Expressed grapefruitCitrus paradisi
Distilled lemonCitrus limon
Distilled limeCitrus medica
Expressed sweet orangeCitrus sinensis
Expressed tangerineCitrus reticulata

Some oils depending on their method of distillation or expression, may fall onto either side of phototoxic, so be sure you know what your using.

All of this talk about the phototoxic oils really got me thinking about the overall safety aspect of dilution.

The normal "standard" dilution rate for an adult is 2 - 2.5%. 2.5% is 15 drops per 30ml(1 ounce) of carrier oil.  2% is 12 drops per 30ml(1 ounce).. For children, pregnant women, the elderly, immune compromised or pets, 1% is sufficent.

To get a better visual of just how powerful EOs are, and how much carrier is needed to safely dilute I created this graphic for another site. and the facebook group Learning about Essential Oils.
The numbers within the oil drops are the total amount of drops of essential oil. The bottles represent the amount of carrier.

Drop/Measurement Conversions
10 drops1/10 tsp1/60 oz.1/8 dram1/2 ml
12.5 drops1/8 tsp1/48 oz.1/6 dram5/8 ml
25 drops1/4 tsp1/24 oz.1/3 dram1 1/4 ml
50 drops1/2 tsp1/12 oz.2/3 dram2 1/2 ml
100 drops1 tsp1/6 oz.1 1/3 dramabout 5 ml
150 drops1 1/2 tsp1/4 oz.2 drams13.5 ml
300 drops3 tsp1/2 oz.4 dramsabout 15 ml
600 drops6 tsp1 oz.8 dramsabout 30 ml
24 tsp8 Tbs4 oz.1/2 cup1/4 pint
48 tsp16 Tbs8 oz.1 cup1/2 pint
96 tsp32 Tbs16 oz.2 cups1 pint

I dilute the commercial blends I use to 2% if they're undiluted, unless its a pretty severe acute issue needing an focused treatement then it may be up to 10%.

So now that your mind is all jumbled up with numbers, I'll make it easy.. Lets go back to that 10-15ml roller ball bottle used neat, how much blended diluted oil does that make? A LOT!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Having a road block with your training?

Often times, that roadblock we all face with out horses is a simple one.. a simple one that often comes from one of four places

  • lack of attention to detail & biomechanics
  • pain or physical inability in part of the horse
  • mental blocks and lack of a correct foundation/training in the horse and/or rider
  • mutual trust and respect
It may be something as simple as your not balanced in the saddle, your reins aren't even or are too short, horses feet or tack are creating soreness or imbalance issues and some other easy fixes. It may be more complex in the way of the horse not using his/her back or hind quarters correctly and becoming heavy on the front end or dropping a shoulder, or a physical/conformational issue creating another issue. 

Commonly, I see riders with very short/tight reins riding the horse completely from the face, saddles slid too far ahead over the withers, the riders weight leaning forward, and then their left wondering why their horse is so darn heavy on the front end.  Simple, its biomechanics

Those tight short reins are creating resistance in the horse. Resistance creates tight muscles, tight back and a road block.. Contact should not be confused with short and tight.. You can easily have contact with out resistance. 

Pain is a big one, if the horse is in pain or something is out of balance from compensating for something, your going to hit a roadblock there too. It could be something as simple as sliding your saddle back to where it naturally wants to sit (NOT perched on the withers), finding a different bit or saddle thats not creating discomfort, having the horses hooves assessed by a reputable farrier familiar with the effects of hoof balance on the rest of the body, or maybe a massage therapist of chiropractor to address the musculo-skeletal issues. 

Attention to detail is likely the biggest one that all to commonly falls to the wayside. A riders weight and body wareness can play a BIG part into how the horses react and use their bodies to carry out the riders requests. The rider may be the one collapsing a hip, dropping their own shoulder, cocking their head to the side, leaning forward, or carrying their weight unevenly. All of which can greatly affect whats going on with the horse. Alot of riders don't realize their even doing it until they ride with a trained eye or have use of arena mirrors to look at themselves. 

Trust & Respect. We've all ridden a horse that as a few fries short of a happy meal or had some issues that just didnt make sense to us at the time. With good training a lot of those issues can be overcame if its just a training issue and not a big mental issue on the horses part.. For your average horse thats not been screwed up too bad along the way, you generally should be able to trust that horse enough not to do something that will get you both hurt or killed for no apparent reason. Trust is a two way street. If you dont give your horse the opportunity to make a mistake and learn from it, your going to hit some roadblocks that wont just take care of themselves. Respect is fairness. Respect and trust go hand in hand. The horse has to trust that their rider won't be snatching them in the mouth, unfairly discipling for the correct response(when the rider inadvertently thought they were asking for something other than what their body was telling the horse), or passive agressiveness in letting things slide and slide and then going postal when it could have been avoided if corrected appropriately the first few times instead of letting it slide. 

The opposite end of trust is fear. Fear of falling off, horse running away with you, dumping you in the dirt, or the unknown. By riding with deep seated fear, your creating it within the horse. Tight reins, clamped leg, rigid body thats leaning forward, your telling the horse it has something to be scared of, when all you want to do is feel more secure with yourself. Its a viscous circle that your actions are fueling its continuation.  

Under normal circumstances, your horse can be trusted to do what he has been trained to do. It’s only our intervention that makes his behaviour abnormal Thus you must always trust your horse, unless you have good reason not to. When you first swing a leg over a new horse, you’re entitled to be cautious. The more you get to know how the horse responds, the more you can relax and let the fear of the unknown and "what if"'s fall to the wayside. The quicker you do this, the better for both! 

People often complain that their horse isn’t listening to what their asking, the horse is tuning them out. This is a two-way street. The rider has often tuned out the horse, and the "asking" has become an annoyingly nagging repetition. Tune out your horse, and your horse tunes you out. Ask until you get a response, even a little one in the right direction needs to be rewarded in the begining. In time the horse figures out that if they respond to the slightest of cue, you will quit getting after them. But if you keep asking over and over with no release when the horse is responding appropriately, your opening the door for the horse to just tune you out. 

Head shaking and bit evasion. It comes from training and/or tack choice. A horse needs to accept contact, but if that contact is from the hands of someone who likes to jerk the reins and snatch at the horses face  or catch the horse in the mouth when they get of balance, the horse is going to turn to whatever means they can to protect their mouth. Bits and how the horse is bitted play into this as well.. a single jointed bit will create a nutcracker effect in the horses mouth, jabbing them in the roof of the mouth. Add some shanks to a single jointed bit, and you get a bit that will rake up and down the horses pallette when pressure is applied. Tom Thumbs and Argentine snaffles have no place in my tackroom. There are MUCH better bit choices. Your horse will thank you if spend the extra few $$ on a bit that doesnt have such a poor mechanics. 

Bottom line, if your stuck at a roadblock, listen to your horse. Their actions and REactions are in relation to their training, discomfort or biomechanics. Often one small adjustment can make a whole world of difference.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Anyone with geldings........

Anyone with geldings knows.......... that as soon as you start cleaning a sheath, the planets will align and every neighbor with inquisitive kids and the church groups from 7 counties will NEED to come for a visit at that very moment. You may not ever have a visitor and be 50 miles from the closest neighbor, but that sweet old neighbor lady next door is going to want to borrow a cup of sugar or an egg when you just cant stand the crusty-willys out in the pasture any longer. It's inevitable.

This morning a close friend and I were talking about sheath cleaning and having quite the giggles over it. I just had to go dig up "The Sheath Cleaning Song". Somewhere is the same version Sang, but i couldnt find it.. just sing along in your head, or if you really want to creep out your coworker in the next office or cubicle, sing it out loud. Bet you cant do that without laughing!

**If your at work, or have people looking over your shoulder, now might not be the best time to play the song, as it may be alittle graphic to the non-horseperson. Your boss may not appreciate the entertainment value in it nearly as much as you do!**

All kidding aside, sheath cleaning IS one of those things that needs to be done if you have geldings and just one more reason why I prefer mares. I have a feeling, that I'm going to be meeting all the neighbors this afternoon.

Beanee Weenees anyone???

Saturday, July 6, 2013

About Juanita

Welcome to my corner of the internet world.  I’m Juanita, the “Opinionated Mare".  I have a few addictions: Horses, Energy Work and Aromatherapy. Yes, they are addictions.  I have spent all of my life owning horses, working in the horse industry and dragging home all kinds of critters to take care of, fix up, or find a new home... often to my husbands dismay.
I attended an Equine Massage School in California over 10 years ago, and that started opening up doors to a more natural way of life and the world of essential oils. Profession-wise, I guess you could say I’m mostly along the lines of an Equine Wellness Consultant- with certifications and/or extensive training in aromatherapy, numerous forms of massage therapy, podiatry, nutrition, saddle fitting, kinesiology and bio-mechanics for the horse and rider thru dressage and more balanced "holistic horsemanship" style that fits any breed and discipline.  There is so much more to it, but if we stop and think, that is the foundation of where everything else builds from with a horse. 
This blog was created for all the  ”huh? whats that" and "how do i remedy this?” and “you do WHAT?!?!” Its been a long time coming, but a product of necessity and a place to organize it all. I'll update and post blogs as i have them more finished.