By Grace Bryce
Calendula (Calendula Officinalis) is a great herb to help heal skin and the digestive tract. It is listed traditionally as a “pot marigold”. I found this confusing, when I first studied
Calendula, because when I hear the word “marigold”, I think of the Tagetes genus. Also, the word “pot” ?! One you plant in a pot? I had to investigate further. Calendula, historically was an edible flower/herb that was easily thrown into the stew “pot”, so it was considered a “pot herb”. Some of the older texts list it as marigold, but will refer to the Latin name as well, Calendula officinalis. When in doubt, always check your Latin names. Historically, Calendula was used as a natural dye for fibers and was also added to breads, soups and pickles for color and flavor.
Grow & Harvest
Calendula is easy to grow from seeds. They are kind of wormy-weird-looking seeds, but they sprout pretty easily. I typically plant the transplants in the fall as the weather starts to cool off. It is considered an annual. They grow great through the fall and winter and into spring, but that hot Texas sun will do them in. They like full sun and average water and soil that isn’t too rich. I grow Calendula for use in my products, so I know the quality is optimal. My bees also love it, especially when less forage is available over winter. It is a great herb to grow in your first aid garden. They are usually found in shades of yellow and orange and the flowers are a little sticky to the touch. You can harvest daily with permission, respect, and gratitude and they will continue to bloom. Air dry the flower heads for later use. Flowers take longer to dry, so even if they look dry they may not be entirely dry. If you seal them in a glass jar and they are not dry, they will mold and you will not be able to use them, except for compost. Dried herbs are best stored in a glass jar and protected from heat and light. If the color and smell fade away from your herbs, you know the medicine has also faded away.
Phytochemical Constituents (abbrev.) in Calendula
Triterpenes (calendulosides A-D, carotenoids) ; immunomodulating polysaccharides (arabinogalactans); Flavinoids (rutin, narcissin), volatile oil, chlorogenic acid.
Basically, these phytochemicals help support immunity, act as antioxidants against free radicals and have antimicrobial powers.
Calendula is very gentle and is great for people who are especially sensitive or frail, young and old. It has been said that it helps the little babies with diaper rash and the elderly with bed sores and everything in between. It is often found in natural baby products. It is also safe for use on pets. It can be used internally and externally. Make a tea from the Calendula flowers (petals or whole flower heads), tincture it (1:5 in 60%), decoct it in honey or throw it in your stew pot and eat it.
According to traditional uses and some studies, Calendula flowers are anti-inflammatory (study 1997), antispasmodic (helps with spasms); anti-microbial; anti-fungal: anti-viral (1997) and diaphoretic (to help you sweat to reduce fever.) It has also helped with lymphatic support during recovery from illness. Internally, it is an emmenagogue, which means it can promote menstruation. It works in a normalizing way for delayed or painful periods. In Europe it has been used for ulcers and gallbladder issues, indigestion and digestive tract inflammation.
Calendula is antipruritic, so it helps with itching. Topically, it has been used for burns, to help wounds heal faster (studies 2005; 2006), bug bites, hemorrhoids, bruises, strains and chapped lips. (I used it in the lip balms I make.) Infuse Calendula flowers in a fixed oil for topical use, or use the infused oil to make salves or lotions. The flowers can also be used topically in a poultice or topically as a tea or tincture. I have a client who uses the tincture in his water pic and has restored his gums to a healthy state. Calendula is often mixed with other herbs to enhance formulas for healing, but also works well as a single herb. Teas and tinctures of Calendula can be used internally or externally. Please inquire for purchases or consultations: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my Etsy store.
Calendula is generally non-toxic, however people with allergies to plants in the Asteraceae family, may also be allergic to Calendula. There are no known drug interactions. Pregnant women should consult their physician or doula before using Calendula internally.
Herbal Constituents, Foundations of Phytochemistry, Lisa Ganora 2009
Medical Herbalism, The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, David Hoffmann, Healing Arts Press, 2003
PDR for Herbal Medicine, 4th Edition, Thompson, 2007
Enjoy your Sunshine!
Please visit my website: www.gracebrycemh.com