Tag Archive | calendula

12 Systems: #1 – Integumentary System

This is the first of 12 posts dedicated to our bodies.  I really believe that if we know how something works, then we gain a deeper understanding and respect for it.  The “something” for this post is our own bodies.  We all go about our day doing what we do, thinking how to get our daily chores done, hardly noticing what our bodies do for us.  What a shame this is, and I am just as guilty as anyone. Usually when we feel aches or pains, or have an injury do we stop and think, what is going on here, and give our bodies a second thought.  But then I discovered the wonder and awe of the human body and its intricate workings.  Learning is so great – how else do we grow I’d like to ask??  So I am sharing with you some neat things about – us!

I bet for some of you this is the first time you have ever heard of the Integumentary System. The word integument means “covering”.  In short the integumentary sys. is the system dealing with the skin.  “Oh, ok”, I can hear you say it now.  But, don’t think erroneously that it is simple and easy.  As you are about to learn, the skin is deeper than you realize.  Ever had a splinter and think, “How can this hurt so bad, it isn’t that deep?”.  Here goes . . .

The skin is composed of two main layers: the epidermis and the dermis.

The layers of the epidermis (left). Melanocyte...

The layers of the epidermis (left). Melanocytes (rlght), located in the bottom epidermal layer, produce melanin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The epidermis has the outer layer that we see.  It also has two main layers referred to as strata, and is made entirely of squamous epithelial cells.  There are no blood vessels in the epidermis, it  is nourished by capillaries in the dermis.  Outer skin cells are constantly being worn off.  This is called exfoliation, a term we are familiar with.  Since epithelial cells are always being lost, new ones are always being formed in the lowest layer, called the stratum basale.  The stratum basale is the layer closest to the dermis and is therefore closer to nourishment the capillaries provide.  An upward pushing toward the surface against older cells happens as the new epithelial cells are produced.  This is why a splinter will “work its way out”.  The outer most layer is called the stratum corneum.  By the time these older dead cells have made it to the stratum corneum they have a different look and structure than when they were first formed.  The protein keratin will have replaced the cytoplasm, making the cell thicker and tougher.  They lay flat together and form the protective substance we know as skin.  FYI, some cells in the deepest layer of the epidermis produce melanin.  Melanin is what makes the skin turn tan when sunlight hits it to protect us from burning our skin.  Sunlight is a very healthy component in a natural health plan.  The sun does not cause cancer, we do. As one of the important eliminative channels our bodies have, the skin helps rid the system of toxins.  If we, by clogging the skin up,  are blocking this natural process form taking place we cause a build-up of toxic matter. Then we go to the beach. . . get sunburned . . . and  well, our bodies  can take only so much.  The sun will ripen cancerous cells, not cause them. Allowing a bad sunburn causes damage to skin  cells, and our bodies’ response to fixing those damaged cells is sometimes one of the glitches cancer evolves from.  Well onward.

Anatomy of the human skin with English languag...

Anatomy of the human skin with English language labels. Arabic language description translated by: Tarawneh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The next layer is the dermis.  The dermis has blood vessels, capillaries, nerves, elastic connective tissue, sweat glands (eliminative organs), oil glands, hair follicles, touch and pressure receptors, and muscle fibers .  Wow, there is a lot going on in the dermis!

On average the dermis is 1.0 – 2.0 mm  thick.  Some thinner areas as around the eyelids, the dermis is 0.5 mm thick, and some thicker areas as the soles of the feet can be up to 3.0 mm thick.  The elastic connective tissue grants the skin incredible flexibility.  Think of how much the skin can stretch  out, as when a woman is pregnant.

Each of the accessory structures performs an important job.  Blood vessels and capillaries bring nutrients and oxygen to the area.  Hair follicles are the root source of growing hair, which  covers most of the skin surface.  Oil glands secrete sebum that keeps the hair soft, pliable, and waterproof.  Sweat glands secrete dissolved salts, water, urea, uric acid and other wastes.  This is what categorizes them as excretory organs.  We have an average of 2 million sweat glands, can you imagine that?? Keep them open and working.  When  we use greasy lotions, sunblock, deodorant, or a detergent soap, we clog the openings – pores – and trap toxins in.  This is obviously not a good thing!  Nerves, pressure and touch receptors allow us our sense of touch.  We feel pressure, pain, temperature changes, and touching because of the nerves present in the dermis.  Muscle fibers in the dermis can contract causing wrinkling of the skin. This is a simplified explanation of the specific components of the dermis, I am not writing a textbook after all, just giving basic info:).

If you have read much about how I, as a Vitalistic Herbalist, view the body, you know I teach you to support the function of the body with natural elements.  The Integumentary system has specific functions it performs for us every moment of every day.  There are four main functions of the skin:

  • Protection against infections from pathogens
  • Protection against dehydration
  • Regulation of body temperature
  • Collection of sensory information

These are important for our everyday health and vitality.  You can place some of the most awful pathogens directly on the skin surface and you will not get sick.  The outer layer of skin cells are tightly fitted together and their outward growth motion removes them in the process of exfoliation.  The oil glands help to keep moisture inside by making the surface of the skin waterproof.  Pour some water on your arm and see it shed right off, I bet you never thought  you had this in common with an arctic seal or any water animal!  This is one the body’s ways to help keep a steady temperature.  The evaporation of sweat cools the body.  The skin also radiates body heat out to be dissipated to the surrounding air.  Blood vessels make this happen by their dilating action, bringing more blood to the surface.  To keep heat in the blood vessels will contract, reducing blood flow and heat loss.  Our brains detect sensory information through nerve impulses that begin in the dermis.  Nerve endings are all over and throughout the skin to help us “feel” our way through every day.  We know if we cut ourselves, or stubbed our toe, or hugged someone we love, or got to close to the stove burner, or scratched an irritating itchy nose, or enjoyed popping bubble wrap!!  Isn’t our skin great!!!!

Some  other noteworthy activities of the skin include helping absorb sunlight so our bodies can manufacture vitamin D, and absorbing herbal essences via poultices, fomentations, or ointments.  (some drugs can be absorbed too, smokers patches, or estrogen  creams etc.)

Oh my  I have typed over 1200 words and I really have just given you a tiny glimpse into the wonders of the skin!  But, I hope I have inspired you to give your skin a little more thought and concern today.  What we eat and drink also determine how healthy our skin is.  If we use  pure natural soaps and deodorants our skin will thank us and perform superbly.

Aloe vera in garden .....Lô Hội, Nha Đam trồng...

Some herbs great for the skin: aloe vera, chickweed, comfrey, red clover, plantain, calendula, and oak bark to name a few.

Love life and breathe deep,



Word of the Week

Word of the Week (even though it is not a Monday :))

I have to post when I have time; and between a new grand baby, I have two now!!, starting my garden seed, and putting up shelves in the basement, I have not had much of that precious commodity – time.  However some blogging is better than none, I guess.

Anyway the word I have chosen this week is: ANTIVENOMOUS

Definition:  herbs used as antidotes to animal, vegetable, and mineral poisons.

Many  herbs have this action.  Some are:  Beth Root, Black Cohosh, Blood Root, Borage, Chaparral, Cornflower, Echinacea, Elecampane, Fennel, Garden Carrot, Garlic, Gentain, Hyssop, Juniper berry, Lobelia, Calendula, Olive oil, Plantain, Rue, Sassafras bark, Scullcap, Slippery Elm, Sundew, Sweet Basil seeds, White oak, Wood betony, and Wormwood.


Plantain (Photo credit: katlupe)

Some that I put to use frequently are garlic, hyssop, slippery elm, calendula, and plantain.  Plantain is a powerful drawing herb.   Plantain is one of those broadleaf  “weeds” that many try to extirpate from their yards, which is sad because it is quite a wonderful healer to the body.  I use it fresh, frozen in paste form, and in ointments.

Antivenomous herbs can be used when stung by any insect, dog bites, snake bites, infected lacerations or wounds, septicemia (blood poisoning), gang green, boils, and acne.  Poultices, ointments, fomentations, or bathes are excellent ways to apply an antivenomous herb.

This is great info to have.  Every time I am outdoors, whether at a park, campground, or visiting someone, I locate patches of plantain and commit the spot to memory.  That way I am ready to harvest at a moments notice!!

Be prepared!

Love life and Breathe deep,


Ready to Begin Again!! With Calendula

Hello all!  I know it has been a super long time since I took the time to visit the blog-o-sphere and even post on my own site, but it has been super crazy busy in my life and time is what I just did not have too much of to spare.  So here I am, giving  some of that “time” I have to share with any one who wants to listen, read, or invest their time.  Holidays were good and got to see many in the family I haven’t seen in a while.  New year was busy too. 

Calendula officinalis

Calendula officinalis, this is a super plant and pot herb.  “Pot herb” means that it is good to cook and eat, in a pot.  I used to think that it was good to grow in a pot, but I learned differently, ha.  By the way you can grow Calendula in a pot if you take the notion to:).

Part used:  flower petals

Some phytochemicals:  caffeic acid, galactose, gentisic acid, lutein, lycopene, malic acid, rutin, salicyclic acid, quercetin

Nutrients:  Calcium, coenzyme Q10, vitamins C and E

Actions:  anti-inflammatory, astringent, vulnerary, anti-microbial, cholagogue, emmenagogue, tonic

Uses:  skin inflammation, diaper rash, external wound, minor burns, gastric ulcers, gall-bladder problems, indigestion, athletes foot, poison ivy, menstrual cramps.

I personally grow and harvest this herb for medicine.  It is easy to grow and will reseed itself every year, this is good if you don’t mind where it pops up next season.  I harvest the flowers after they open and after the dew is gone in the morning.  I place about a handful of them in a small paper lunch bag, fold down the top and place in a dry, warm, dark area.  I check them every other day or so to make sure no mold is creeping in and to give the petals a shake to redistribute them.  After about a week or so they are completely dry, crispy, and still have their color.  I store them in a glass jar, dated and labeled.

I use this great herb in teas, ointments, and tinctures.  It will also be great in a lotion.  Adding it to soap is good also.  A WWII vet told me he witnessed huge vats of  Calendula tincture being used in the field hospitals for flu, infections, and wounds.

Flower of calendula

It is quite a pretty flower to add to any flower bed or landscape.  The color of the petals can range from orange to yellow.

Flower of calendula

Love life and breathe deep,


Warning: Grotesque

Roofing definitely has its dangers.  Wendell has had his full share of injuries over the last 25 years of being in construction.  He has accidentally driven many nails, nails of all kinds, into his fingers, hands, and feet.

Fortunately this time it was not him!!  He was however around to witness this lovely injury involving a roofing nail.  He also got to remove the offensive said nail.  I would not want you to be uninformed, so I will explain  what a roofing nail is. Roofing nails come wrapped in coils to fit inside a coil-nailer.  They are attached to each other by two parallel copper wires running continuously through the coil.  When a nail is discharged it is ripped away leaving four barbs sticking out of the leg of the nail, two on each side.  The barbs are tiny, but remember it is copper wire and it is not pliable in any way!

Wendell removed the nail with a pair of pliers.  Ugh!  I can’t imagine pulling this out!  Or being the one it was pulled out of!

So now that I have sufficiently got you up to speed, here is the photo of a roofing nail – and a finger.

After the nail is removed I would clean the wound and pack it with a fresh comfrey leaf and calendula poultice.  Wendell recommends soaking an injury such as this in diesel fuel.  He has had injuries like this and he has used diesel fuel with good results.  Something in the fuel takes away the swelling, stiffness, and the pain.

Have a safe Monday everyone!

Love life & breathe deep,