According to the calendar it has been used medicinally since the time of the ancient Egyptians. It has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and can be used externally against a variety of skin complaints – acne, eczema, boils and abscesses, minor burns and other wounds, nappy rash and chapped hands or lips – and also against haemorrhoids, strains, bruises, varicose veins and what I think might be housemaid’s knee. But don’t quote me on that one as I’m making a wild guess at the translation.
The useful part of the plant are the flowerheads, which are gathered from June to September – best according to the calendar between 11 and 12 o’clock – and dried before use. They can be prepared in various ways, of which the two simplest are :
- As a tea. Steep 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried petals in 150 ml of boiling water for 7 minutes, then strain. Apart from medicinal uses, this can also be used as a rinse to lighten hair and give it a golden tint.
- Or you can soak nine flowerheads in milk for half an hour. You then strain off the liquid and use a cotton wool pad to dab it on to acne.
The best English account I’ve found on the web is at Plants for a Future, though as ever Purple Sage is also very good. These two also list other medicinal uses – against stomach ulcers, bad circulation and various other ailments. They also mention its use in cooking – the leaves can be used in salads, and the petals used as an alternative to saffron to colour soups, rice etc.