Amanda Lindsay was shocked when a homemade disinfecting ointment cured her severely cut knuckle.
After the University of Central Florida Landscape & Natural Resources employee cut her knuckle down to the bone on a razor at a friend’s house, she turned to what most people would: a bandage and store-bought disinfecting ointment. After days of no improvement, she then turned to a homemade ointment made from comfrey herbs and chaga mushrooms. Her wound healed days later without scabbing, scaring or developing an infection.
“We all live in this chemical, medicinal society,” Lindsay said. “But once you try something natural, you then realize this stuff really does work.”
That’s exactly what Lindsay and the UCF Arboretum staff want to teach students, faculty, staff and the community through a new workshop series called Everyday Herbalism. At 11 a.m. Nov. 10, participants will be shown how to make disinfecting ointment, also known as salve, with just boiling water, olive oil, beeswax and plants grown in Florida.
By infusing oil with plants that have natural anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, the oil – that’s then mixed with beeswax to become jelly-like – then contains these qualities also found in store-bought ointments. Plants such as Spanish needle, goldenrod and comfrey are common in Florida and contain these beneficial properties. Plus, making ointments at home can save money and help the environment by reducing plastic and pollution from mass manufacturing.
“Bringing people together and educating them on the value of herbs to the planet and their bodies really ties in to what we’re trying to do [at the Arboretum],” said Jennifer Elliott, coordinator of the UCF Arboretum.
The workshop is free and will be at the Arboretum’s Natural Resources Pavilion on Gemini Boulevard across from Garage C. It also will be the first of the Everyday Herbalism series that will host workshops at least once a semester, Elliott said. Future workshops will demonstrate how to make body lotions, deodorant, home-cleaning supplies, herbal teas and more with plants and other natural resources. See the Arboretum’s Facebook page  for more on the workshop.
“The plants we use are window-type plants and easily can be grown in apartments or homes,” Elliott said. “Plus, you can argue homemade products are better. You know exactly how it’s made, and there are no ingredients you can’t pronounce.”
The series was spearheaded by Lindsay, a UCF alumna who studied environmental science; Jacques Werleigh ’13, an Arboretum program assistant; and Andrea Bender, an Arboretum work-study student who’s studying biomedical science. Their appreciation for the power of the outdoors motivated them to want to share their knowledge.
“These plants already are being grown at the Arboretum and are used as a teaching tool, but it’s hard to take away what a plant can be used for by just being told about it,” Lindsay said. “The outdoors has always been useful to humans, so we’re trying to target workshops that can benefit the greater community.”