Whidbey Gardener's Balm

by Ritual Mischief


This balm was created by human-loving Whidbey-grown plants, local beeswax (thank you bees and bee keepers!), and me to support the other land-loving gardeners, small-farm farmers, and foragers of Whidbey Island--and the people who love them (great gifts for land lovers in your life). Some of the traditional uses of this balm's whole-plant ingredients are listed below. No essential oils or fragrance oils are added to this balm. Just the fresh local whole plants themselves, slow-infused into organic olive oil, and then combined with local beeswax. Created as a hand salve, we've also found ourselves rubbing this into our feet and necks as a balm for our spirits and muscles, too, after particularly long workdays outside.

To use: Rub into work-worn hands, feet, and even neck, when needed, after you've worked too hard in the garden or field again. Was made to use as an occaisional skin salve and muscle and spirit balm for after long hours of working outdoors in the garden or field or woods.

Insider tip: On days I plan to spend the whole day working outside, I may use a bit as a hand salve before going outside, because once I'm working outside I tend to lose all track of time and now that I'm older, that means I end up damaging my body more often. With a little of the gardener's balm rubbed into my neck, I'm somehow more mindful of when I need to stop working before my body is damaged by overwork. But that might just be me. These plants and I are pretty tight (close friends).    

Some of the traditional uses of this balm's ingredients 

- Calendula flowers – bringing joy by its simple stunning presence, making salads more beautiful and appealing to salad-resistant humans (petals are edible), pollinator support, drunk as tea to support digestion. Topically, reducing skin inflammation, promoting cell repair and growth, helping prevent dermatitis/skin irritation, wound and burn healing, scar healing support.
- Lavender flower, stem, leaf – bringing calm and relaxation to daily life and to emergency situations, make the house and yard smell good, a great rest stop for pollinators, antibacterial and minor pain relief for scrapes and abrasions, mild allergy relief (as long as you’re not allergic to lavender itself), anti-fungal, insect repellent, and useful to put on insect bites for the insects who weren’t deterred by its scent and bit you anyway
- Comfrey leaf and flower (Symphytum officinale)– fertilizing other plants (comfrey tea), wound healing, scar healing, easing muscle pain, easing joint and arthritis pain and inflammation, insect bites, bruise healing. Traditionally gargled to help with bleeding gums, sore throat, and laryngitis. Important: Has a very long traditional use as a food and for broken bone healing (since at least 400 BC) but modern science in the US currently recommends topical use only and not internal use only due to pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) found in the roots of some varieties of comfrey. We use Symphytum officinale only, and we use the leaf and flower only, not the roots. In many countries, the leaves are still eaten in stirfrys, soups, and salads. Most herbalists we know (including us) still drink comfrey infusions (long-steeped teas)--now and then--1) trusting its 2,500+ year history with humans, 2) believing that the whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts (what science tends to look at), 3) believing that the benefits outweigh the risks, because we've 4) seen its life-long use by healthy herbalists now in their 70s, 80s, and 90s.
- Burdock root – most traditional use is as food and tea, look for it at Asian grocery stores (here it grows as a deeply loved weed on the land). The root can be cooked and eaten like a carrot and also dried and drunk as tea to help eliminate toxins from the body that cause joint swelling and inflammation, which may support rheumatism, arthritis and gout pain. Thought to help break down calcification in the joints and knuckles that cause pain and hinder movement. Topically antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and cooling for skin. It's in the balm for those reasons and because here its mere presence has taught us to take our time, look closely, re-examine our cultural assumptions, and to love stubborn, deep-rooted "weeds" (which has extended to being better at loving stubborn "weedy" neighbors too).
- Cleavers (whole young--springtime--plant, above-ground parts leaves and stems, not seeds) – Topically cooling, can reduce swelling, traditionally used for skin infections, wounds, and conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Stimulating to the lymphatic system. Late summer plant seeds can be dried and drunk as a mildly caffeinated coffee substitute, although personally I don't have the time or patience to pick and dry the itty bitty seeds. Most herbalists I know today either drink the whole plant (above-ground parts) in cold-water infusions steeped for ~8 hours to help get lymph system moving, especially after long cold winters when we tend to hole up and stagnate a bit) or they juice it if they have it in large quantities. Some also grind up the whole plant for poultices for stubborn skin conditions. Included in this balm because of its cooling nature and because too many gardeners hate this sticky "weed" that clings to pant legs and dog fur and spreads itself along roads and paths like a champ. Be careful who you hate. This once-hated-by-me plant now saves me significant lymph pain every spring. 
- Organic extra virgin olive oil – moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, aids in wound healing
- Local beeswax – moisturizing and hydrating for skin, antibacterial, wound and burn healing, softens and lubricates skin, prevents moisture loss, aids skin regeneration after damage. Also in the balm because its mere presence helps you love local bees, bee keepers, and farmers even more than you did before.

Ingredients: Whidbey-grown calendula flowers, lavender, burdock root, and cleavers plant (grown here at Ritual Mischief outside Langley) and Whidbey comfrey leaf and flower (Symphytum officinale, from our friend Randall's garden in Clinton) infused in organic extra virgin olive oil for 5 weeks to 8 weeks, depending on the plant, plus local beeswax from HiveHarvest on the peninsula and Maya Farm on Whidbey.

Size/packaging: Reusable 2-ounce, gold screw-top, food-grade tin. See the Packaging page of this website for more details.

Medical Disclaimer: In our experience, the more connected to the land and local plants we are, the better we feel. Get to know the plants in this balm better! To make well-informed decisions for yourself, seek the guidance of your qualified health professional, such your medical doctor, nurse practitioner, naturopathic physician, and/or clinical herbalist with questions regarding your medical conditions, dosage information, and possible interactions with prescription drugs. The information on this page is for general reference for further exploration and study. It is not intended as a replacement for professional medical advice. See the Medical Disclaimer page of this website for more details. These statements have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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