Calendula (marigold) - Calendula officinalis

Calendula is not one of the major medicinal herbs, but it does have its place in the medicine cabinet. Besides being lovely, it has unique healing qualities. Also produces a yellow/orange dye, and is fun on salads! The article shares specifics on how to use Calendula petals.

BACKGROUND / DESCRIPTION

Calendula is a stunningly beautiful flower, the deep orange / yellow petals form a colorful contrast with the greenery in the herb garden. It is often mistaken for other marigolds, but is an entirely different plant. It's native to northern Africa and the south-central portion of Europe. If you can't visually distinguish calendula from marigold, you'll probably be more successful using your nose: regular garden marigolds give off a strong, unpleasant aroma; calendula is comparatively milder.

Calendula is a bittersweet, salty herb, that stimulates the liver, gall bladder, and uterus. It soothes the digestive system, clears infections, and is said to support the heart. Calendula is one of the best herbs for treating skin problems. It is beneficial in skin care, soothing inflammation, controlling bleeding and healing damaged tissue in cases where the skin is broken. It is most effective to help heal wounds - particularly slow-healing wounds and skin ulcers - and has shown to stimulate the development of granulation tissue. It has immune stimulant properties as well as an estrogenic effect. It may be used for any external bleeding or wounds, bruising, or strains.

Calendula is used throughout Europe and the Americas for wound healing and ulcer treatments. Culpeper talks of the flowers, either fresh or dried, as being "much used in possets, broth, and drink as a comforter of the heart and spirits, and to expel any malignant or pestilential quality which might annoy them." Ellingwood recommends it for varicose veins, chronic ulcers, capillary engorgement, hepatic and splenic congestion, recent wounds and open sores, and severe burns.

My own personal use is in tea, salves and salads. While it is a good herb for wounds, I prefer Yarrow for actual wound care - but if you have Calendula, but no yarrow (sad) - it is a good backup, just not as Ďmiraculousí as Yarrow in stopping blood flow in seconds. Calendula soap is also really nice. Iíve bought some before, but hoping to make some this coming summer when my flowers bloom. Iíve found a wonderful recipe with clear directions to share with you Ė

http://www.soap-making-resource.com/calendula-soap-recipe.html .

Calendula also adds color as well as healthful qualities, when sprinkled on salads and other foods. Calendula petals have often been used to add color and flavor to breads, soups, pickles, and salad oils.

Therapeutic uses for calendula include burns, inflammation, mucositis, thrush, and pharyngitis. The phytochemicals in calendula oppose fungi, bacteria, viruses, and inflammation. They also excite white blood cells in the immune system to fight microbial invaders with a little more vigor. It is the combination of the lipophilic extracts and the hydrophilic extracts which contains flavonoids and saponins that has shown to promote healing and skin repair, while having excellent anti-inflammatory properties. For these reasons and others, calendula has been a good treatment for skin problems of all kinds - it is soothing, and assists with circulation. Apart from the great anti-inflammatory properties, it also prevents tissue degeneration while arresting bleeding in wounds, making it excellent to help with stubborn wounds, ulcers, bedsores, varicose veins, bruises, rashes, eczema etc.

Calendula preparations are approved in Germany and other European countries for topical use on slow-to-heal wounds and for ulcerations on the leg. A gargle or tea is also used to reduce inflammation of the mouth or sore throat. Most human studies of the plant have been conducted in eastern European countries and involve only small numbers of patients. They indicate that extracts of the herb may be of use in treating duodenal ulcers and may help surgical wounds heal more rapidly.

Pharmacological studies, most involving animals, have confirmed a wide range of activities. Calendula extracts are anti- inflammatory, antiviral, and stimulate the immune system to increase the particle ingestion capacity of white blood cells. (In this respect, calendula is similar to echinacea.) Triterpenoids in calendula have recently been linked to its anti-inflammatory activity. In addition, calendula increases granulation at the site of a wound, promoting metabolism of proteins and collagen-in other words, helping grow new healthy cells. Topical calendula preparations are widely accepted in Europe for treating inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes, slow-to-heal wounds, mild burns, and sunburn.

COMMON USES

A primary use of Calendula is in reducing inflammation. Bee and wasp stings have been treated by rubbing the fresh flower on the affected area. Itís used for wound healing as it is an antiseptic and improves blood flow to the affected area. But it has also been shown to help with skin problems from ulceration to eczema when used as a salve. It has treated stomach ulcers, stomach cramp, colitis and diarrhoea, fever, boils, abcesses and to prevent persistent vomiting when infused. Bruises, sprains, pulled muscles, sores, boils in a salve or dilute tincture. And it has been used to treat athletes foot, ringworm and candida, acne and nappy rash when used in a salve.

The tea or the tincture in water can be swished and swallowed in order to help heal oral lesions, sore throat, or gastric ulcer.

The fresh flowers are masticated, reduced to a paste with water in a blender, or rubbed directly onto affected areas. The dried flowers are best made into an aromatic infused oil, tea, or tincture. To test the tincture for quality, apply one drop to the surface of a hand-held mirror and wait until the alcohol dries off. Once dry, there should remain a raised droplet of sticky, golden resin.

Calendula has been used traditionally as both a culinary and medicinal herb. The petals are edible and can be used fresh in salads or dried and used to color cheese or as a replacement for saffron.

Calendula's great anti-inflammatory properties are most useful in cases where tissue degeneration is an issue - such as stubborn wounds, sores, acne, ulcers, bed sores, varicose veins, bruises, rashes, eczema etc.

Calendula is most often applied to the skin in creams, lotions and oils, but can be taken as an herbal tea, used as a tincture, and applied as a poultice. Make a simple homemade facial by boiling a handful of fresh petals in milk. Use the flower petals to add color to soups and rice dishes. Use just the petals, do not eat calyx or flower centers. For a sore throat or indigestion, drink calendula tea or use it to gargle, for scrapes and bruises apply the tea directly to your skin. Take the sting out of insect bites and rashes by applying the bruised, fresh flowers directly to the irritated skin. Use a few drops of calendula tincture to treat sore gums and mouth ulcers. Calendula combines well with comfrey and St. John's wort for healing skin.

Externally, Calendula flowers and leaves can be made into an Ointment or powder for a variety of common skin ailments, including cuts, scrapes, abrasions, scalds, blisters, acne, rashes (including diaper rash), chicken pox outbreaks, and athlete's foot. For bee stings, rub the fresh flowers directly on the sting to relieve the pain.

A powder for external uses can be made by drying Calendula flowers, then grinding and mixing them with cornstarch or talc.

As a beauty aid, a Calendula rinse made of unsweetened tea brings out the highlights in blonde and brunette hair. Also try running bath water over a mesh bag full of Calendula flowers for a refreshing and stimulating bath that is good for the skin.

Calendula flowers or leaves can be dried and used in capsule form for situations in which it is inconvenient to make a tea for internal use.

Fresh or dried calendula flower petals can be sprinkled over a salad for a wonderful treat.

Aromatherapists use calendula oil for its skin healing properties. The oil is normally obtained by making an infused oil (macerated oil), by steeping the petals in a base oil - such as almond or apricot kernel oil.

Simmer massive amounts of calendula for a long period of time, replacing the flowers periodically, to produce a lovely yellow dye.

Feed laying chickens calendula flowers and the egg yolks will be a deep yellow color.

Use in a footbath on swollen feet or as an eyewash on sore, tired eyes.

Use a calendula tincture as hair rinse to reduce dandruff.

Plant in the garden to repel pests and attract beneficial insects.

Great for dry and fresh flower arrangements.

Sprinkle petals or young leaves over a salad, or add petals to soups for a nice added color and some extra vitamins.

Mash calendula into a paste with some water and massage onto areas with varicose veins to reduce their severity.

Petals can be used to color homemade butter and cheese, as they were used in the 17-1800s.

Properties: Analgesic * Anti-inflammatory * Antibacterial * Antifungal * Antiscrofulous * Astringent * Cancer * Cholagogue * Depurative * Diaphoretic * Emmenagogue * Febrifuge * Vulnerary *

Parts Used: flower petals and oil

CULTIVATION / GROWING

Calendula is easily grown from seed and may be sown directly in the garden from early spring on into summer, with plenty of time left to get a good harvest of flowers. Tolerant of poor soils, calendula will grow in partial shade or full sun. The plant requires regular watering. Easily grown in pots on the doorstep or in window boxes. Ideal for children as the seeds are large and easily handled, and germination is almost assured even if planted by the inexperienced gardener. Sow about ľ inch deep and pat down the row. Keep weeded and thin to 6 inches to 1 foot apart. The first flowers are produced 40 to 50 days after seed germination.

Harvest is best done in the late morning, after the dew dries. As soon as the flowers come into their prime, pick them off. After the first harvest, pick again in a few days, when the newly developing flowers reach maturity. Spread the calendula flowers on screens to dry, in the shade, and turn and stir them several times daily. - Or you can put them in a paper bag, about 1/3 full, close the top loosely, and shake it every day until they're dry. As soon as the calendula flowers are dry, store them in glass jars, preferably away from light.

Calendula officinalis is easy to grow in average soil and is bothered by few pests or cultural problems providing the soil is well-drained. If grown in full sun, cut back plants when hot weather arrives. If you can keep them alive through the heat of summer theyíll recover and bloom again in fall.

Light: Sun to partial shade. Provide afternoon shade in warm climates to extend the season.

MAGICAL / MYTHICAL USES

I've read numerous 'magical' uses - some quite fun. Decide for yourself if you think there is anything to it, or if you just think it'd be a fun thing to do! --> Hang a calendula wreath, bouquet or garland over entry doors to prevent evil from entering..... Scatter petals under the bed for prophetic dreams and for protection while sleeping......and if you place it under your mattress it will make whatever you dream come true...... Carry calendula petals into court for favorable legal proceedings...... Take a bath in calendula infused water to receive an extra dose of respect and admiration......

Lots of fun stuff!

It is believed that these flowers have been used by many people for the purpose of bringing Good Luck in Money Matters and especially at Games of Chance through the sending of a lucky dream. Folks experienced at cards, slots, keno, the racetrack, the lottery, and bingo tell us that if they Dream Lucky, they will have Good Luck the next day. Therefore, they place a green flannel bag filled with GOLDEN CALENDULA FLOWERS beneath their pillow when going to sleep because it is said that breathing the fragrance of these flowers causes one to dream of Winning Numbers and Winning Names. I don't know that I'll bother trying this - but who knows????

And a few more fun ones...... picked at noon when the sun is strongest to strengthen and comfort the heart ........ if a girl touches the petals of marigold with bare feet, she will understand the language of the birds ......... oil (made by maceration) or an incense of the petals is used in consecrating magical tools ...... often used in rituals to honor the Goddess ........ an infusion with marjoram, and absinthe may help you to visions of your beloved (me thinks it would be the absinthe giving the visions!)

And this last one, I do like -- helps one recognize the comfort and security of knowing we are all given all the talents we need.

WARNINGS & endings....

Generally no side effects or contraindications have been reported. Persons allergic to pollen of other members of the aster family, such as ragweed, may also be allergic to calendula. Calendula should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation. Very occasionally it may cause an allergic reaction so always do a skin patch test if you have not used it before.

*In animal studies, calendula has had effects on the uterus, and calendula has traditionally been thought to have harmful effects on sperm and to cause abortions. However, it is not clear if these effects occur with use of calendula on the skin.

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Ah yes... and the legal disclaimer - donít you hate these things? ó> The information contained in this page is for educational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. <Ė ok, thatís done, hope you find this article useful!!


Gail Ann(573) 795-2371spiritguidedhealer@gmail.com

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