Calendula officinalis; Garden marigold; Pot marigold
This beautiful plant flowered through the winter this year – even stood up through a snow! Calendula is usually an annual plant that thrives in most soils. It belongs to the same family as daisies, chrysanthemums, and ragweed and is native to the northern Mediterranean countries. Its name refers to its tendency to bloom with the calendar (Once a month or with every new moon). The term “marigold” refers to the Virgin Mary, and the flowers are used to honor her during Catholic events. The Egyptians considered calendula flowers to have rejuvenating properties. In the Hindu world, calendula flowers were used to adorn statues of gods in their temples, and as a colorant in food, fabrics, and cosmetics.
It is an annual commonly grown in gardens for its bright display of yellow or orange flowers. Calendula can be directly seeded in the spring or even summer or they can be started indoors as transplants. They will re-seed themselves but don’t become a nuisance. Rich soil and full sun will keep them blooming. Calendula deters many insect pests, making it a good border flower for the garden. It doesn’t have any known issues with pests or diseases!
Cutting blooms will encourage budding. Snip early and often! Harvest blossoms when they are half open, in late morning, after dew has dried. Check often because they come and go quickly. Use flowers fresh or dry. Cut flower heads and spread on a screen, in a shady, dry spot. Turn a few times until they are papery dry. Store in jars. Allow some blossoms to stay on the plants and mature if you want to collect seed.
The whole flower or just petals are used, fresh or dried, for herbal medicine. Salve, lotion, tincture, soaps and oil are all popular uses for calendula. It’s great for the skin, so you’ll find it in this application most frequently. It is used as a dye for food and fabric and its petals are edible and look great sprinkled atop a fresh salad. It soothes gastrointestinal problems and can be used fresh or dried in a tea for this.
Calendula in suspension or in tincture is used topically for acne, reducing inflammation, controlling bleeding, and soothing irritated tissue. Calendula has high amounts of flavonoids, plant-based antioxidants that protect cells from being damaged by unstable molecules called free radicals. Calendula appears to fight inflammation, viruses, and bacteria. Calendula has been used to treat stomach upset and ulcers and relieve menstrual cramps. Calendula contains chemicals, which have been shown to speed up wound-healing by increasing blood flow to the affected area and promoting the production of collagen proteins.
The dried petals of the calendula plant are used in tinctures, ointments and washes to treat burns, bruises, and cuts, as well as the minor infections they cause. Calendula helps prevent dermatitis or skin inflammation in breast cancer patients during radiation therapy.
The aqueous-ethanol extract of Calendula officinalis flowers was shown to have spasmolytic and spasmogenic effects. An aqueous extract of Calendula officinalis obtained by a novel extraction method has demonstrated anti-tumor activity and lymphocyte activation in vitro, as well as anti-tumor activity in mice. Calendula is one of several herbs used traditionally to treat conjunctivitis and other eye inflammations. It helps reduce the swelling and redness of eye infections.
As an anti-fungal agent, it can be used to treat athlete’s foot, ringworm, and candida. The tincture applied to cold sores encourages healing. Calendula possesses anti-septic and anti-inflammatory effects due to its flavonoid content. In mouthwashes and gargles, calendula soothes sore throat or mouth tissue; in solutions, it has been uses to treat hemorrhoids. Compresses of calendula blossoms are helpful for varicose veins.
Calendula’s high-molecular weight polysaccharides stimulate immune system activity. It was determined to have some potential therapeutic activity against the HIV: extracts significantly inhibited HIV-1 in vitro, and reduced HIV-1 reverse transcriptase in a dose- and time-dependent manner.
Calendula is being investigated for it’s anti-cancer properties. There has been evidence of success in treating certain cancers (Heren’s carcinoma) according to the Fedkovich Chernivtsi State University in the Ukraine. In one small study of about 250 women undergoing radiation therapy after surgery for breast cancer, a commercial calendula ointment reduced the amount of skin irritation better than another commercial preparation. Women who used the calendula ointment reported less pain from the radiation.
Properties: Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-phlogistic, anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, anti-viral, aperient, astringent, cholagogue, detoxifier, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, estrogenic, haemostatic, immunostimulant, vulnerary.
Indicated for: Acne, athlete’s foot, blepharitis, candida, cold sores, conjunctivitis, coughs, cramps, eczema, fungal infections, gastritis, good digestion, haemorrhoids, HIV, menopausal symptoms, menstrual cramps, minor burns, phthiriasis (dry), relieving colitis, ringworm, sore throats, skin ulcerations, snake bites, sprains, sunburns, varicose veins, viral infections, warts, wounds.
People who are allergic to plants in the daisy or aster family, including chrysanthemums and ragweed, may also have an allergic reaction(usually a skin rash) to calendula.
Infusion: 1 tsp (5 – 10 g) dried florets in 8 oz (250 mL) water; steep 10 – 15 minutes; drink 2 – 3 cups per day
Fluid extract (1:1 in 40% alcohol): 0.5 – 1.0 mL 3 times per day
Tincture (1:5 in 90% alcohol): 5 – 10 drops (1 – 2 mL) 3 times per day
Ointment: 2 – 5% calendula; apply 3 – 4 times per day as needed