IN THE 12th Century, Arminius Macer wrote that just by gazing at the radiant orange flowers of the Calendula flower would improve the eyesight, clear the head and make you happy.
The wonderful calendula plant is very sensitive to light and temperature; the flowers open in the morning, follow the sun’s light during the day and then close at dusk or when its clouded over.
It collects lots of dew in the morning, a fact that was noted by Shakespeare, who wrote: “The marigold that goes with the sun and with him rises weeping.”
Even the herb’s name derives from nature’s rhythms: “Calendula” flowers throughout the ‘calends of every month’ - as we see, it has the same root as our word for calendar.
Old favourite of the apothecary
Calendula is ruled by the Sun astrologically, under the dominion of Leo and is associated with the chakra of the solar plexus, Manipura. This points towards many of its valuable digestive properties.
Calendula has always been known as a herb of the Sun and and Culpeper recommended it to ‘strengthen the heart’ and to treat smallpox and measles.
Calendula is one of the most common remedies used in folk and clinical herbalism and has a broad spectrum of uses and applications.
From German folk medicine, to the ancient Greeks, to the homeopaths and clinical herbal traditions of North America; everywhere Calendula pops up it is adopted and used as a valuable medicinal agent.
The former Soviet Union grows such large amounts of the herb for medicinal use that it has been called Russian penicillin.
The leaves and petals can be eaten in salads and the flowers are often used in cosmetics. Traditionally, the flowers were used to impart a yellow colour to cheese.
The skin specialist herb
As a skin specialist herb, calendula reigns supreme. It is the most beneficial herb in skin care, soothing inflammation, controlling bleeding and healing damaged tissue and in cases (internally and externally) where the skin is broken.
It is a superb first-aid treatment for minor burns and scalds. The herb has been shown to promote blood clotting and to reduce capillary effusion and the presence of carotenoids in its chemical composition, making it ideal for general healing, wounds and eczema.
Calendula is very effective in cases of physical damage to the skin, for example, crural ulceration (due to venous insufficiency), varicose veins, haemorrhoids, anal fissures, mastitis, sebaceous cysts, impetigo or other inflamed cutaneous lesions. It is also specifically indicated to treat enlarged or inflamed lymphatic nodes.
Topical application as a poultice or compress can be most helpful for sores.
Antimicrobial and antioxidising
Biochemically, calendula contains a degree of mucilage in the form of polysaccharides, which are responsible for its tonic effects on the immune system, as well as it’s soothing and moistening effects on the mucosal membranes.
Although the herb contains no tannins, calendula is locally astringent due to its resin component and probably to other water-soluble constituents as well.
An infusion of the herb may be used as an eyewash to treat conjunctivitis.
Calendula is ideal for dry, dehydrated, irritated and delicate skin as the saponins and mucilage have humectant properties and its inclusion in cosmetics is well warranted, given how well it fights the signs of ageing.
As a lotion or balm, it is an excellent cosmetic remedy for repairing minor damage to the skin, such as sub-dermal broken capillaries or sunburn.
Its antimicrobial and antioxidising action, make it the perfect antiseptic for skin infections, such as acne.
The herb acts very well against fungal, protozoal, bacterial and viral infections and has demonstrated activity against influenza viruses and also helps suppress the growth of herpes simplex virus.
Calendula is an effective local treatment for fungal and other infections of the vagina or for other fungal skin conditions such as ringworm and athlete’s foot (particularly when combined with golden seal and comfrey). The sap from the stem is reputed to remove warts, corns and calluses.
While commonly thought of as simply a topical remedy used for minor cuts, scrapes and wounds, calendula is also an internal agent especially for chronic digestive imbalances; leaky gut syndrome and food intolerance. It is indicated in unresolved infection or erosion of the upper digestive tract, particularly where there is evidence of bleeding into the gut.
Taken internally, calendula has an anti-inflammatory as well as spasmolytic (muscle relaxant) effect and is very useful for digestive inflammation, such as gastric or duodenal ulcers.
This herb is a cholagogue and thus improves digestion by stimulating the production of bile; this can help relieve gallbladder problems.
It is warming and acts deeply in the body, liver, gallbladder and lymphatics, which is useful in the treatment of damp and cold-type tissue states.
Calendula can also treat small ulcers in the mouth and throat, including problems such as gingivitis.
The herb is an emmenagogue with an estrogenic effect, which means that it helps regulate menstrual disorders such as delayed, or painful menstruation.
Calendula ignites the bright sun in our body
From an energetic perspective, calendula is said to stimulate the Apana vayu, which is considered the downward moving wind element in Ayurveda.
This force is associated with essentially all bodily actions that force things down and out (menstruation, defecation, for example).
This is revealed to us through Calendula’s bitter taste as well as its emmenagogue action.
Calendula not only cleanses cold/depression and dampness from the tissues and organs, but psychologically, also from the mind.
It gently but effectively lifts up our consciousness, shining the light into those darkened recesses of the self and clarifying the senses.
Matthew Wood also notes that calendula has a “positive psychological effect for people with fear of cancer.”
Calendula’s action upon the psychological spectrum is likely due to its influence upon the gastrointestinal tract and it is best used when someone has a degree of psychological melancholy, which has its root in the gut.
Calendula brings radiant warmth and light for those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
The herb affects the third chakra; the bright sun in the body and alchemical centre that connects us to our power source to perform our actions wth ease and grace.
Botanical name: Calendula officinalis
Common name: Marigold
The Plant: This bushy annual plant stands 30-60cm high and its bright orange or yellow flowers are used medicinally. It is a native of Egypt and the Mediterranean, but has become naturalised throughout temperate regions of the world, often in previously cultivated land. Many cultivated varieties of marigold come from completely different genera and should be distinguished from Calendula officinalis.
Part Used: Calendula herb comes from the bright yellow flowers of the common marigold - its entire flowering head. It is important to use the entire flower and not just the petals, for it is underneath the flower base that contains much of the aromatic and resinous properties of the plant that are responsible for its medicinal actions. The petals themselves are relatively mild and sweet, but the entire flower is distinctly much more medicinal. Some practitioners also use the leaves, which are said to contain a degree of iodine.
Actions: Spasmolytic (muscle relaxant), mild diaphoretic (induces sweating), anti-inflammatory, styptic (stops bleeding), anti-haemorrhagic, non-tannin astringent, vulnerary (local tissue healer), antifungal, antiseptic, cholagogue (liver tonic), emmenagogue (stimulates uterus), menstrual regulator.
Caution: No side effects are commonly reported; calendula is considered safe and non-toxic. Calendula should not be taken internally during pregnancy.
When calendula is applied to a wound it is seldom that any suppuration follows, the wound healing by replacement or first intention.
It has been tested by several practitioners, and by one, is used after every surgical operation with the happiest effect.
You need not fear to use it in wounds, and I would not be without it for a hundred times its cost.
- King's American Dispensatory
CALENDULA BALM is a first-aid staple for minor scratches or wounds; the beauty of a balm is that it hangs around on the surface of the affected area, creating a protective barrier.
It will ease itchy areas, insect bites and flaky, very dry skin areas.
In balm form, calendula is excellent to rub on old scar tissue, helping to diminish it over time, because it promotes wound healing by stimulating proliferation and migration of fibroblasts.
For slow-healing wounds and various exposed ulcers, it is found that using calendula as a topical ointment helps speed up recovery rate and healing and it can also be effective for treating haemorrhoids. Calendula balm helps increase blood flow and oxygen to wounds and any infected area, which helps the body grow new tissue and heal more rapidly.
It is your first choice to prevent and treat nappy rash in babies, providing a barrier against moisture and bacteria.
Breast-feeding often causes inflammation of the nipple. Regular application of calendula balm keeps nipples soft and supple, preventing infection.
Ingredients: extra-virgin olive oil, certified organic calendula flowers, candelilla wax, certified organic shea butter, certified organic vitamin E (plant based).
YOU CAN make your own infused oil, balm, lotion or tincture with dried calendula flowers.
The loose, dried flowers can be infused and used as a medicinal herbal tea.
Calendula is a bittersweet, salty herb that stimulates the liver, gall bladder, and uterus as well as the immune system.
It soothes the digestive system, clears infections and is said to support the heart.
It also imparts a cheerful yellow to your tea blend.
THE ACTIVES in calendula are mostly bigger and non-volatile compared to many essential oils.
Accordingly they are not steam distilled but more effectively extracted by infusion or maceration in a vegetable oil to produce infused calendula oil.
The fresh flowers are soaked in the vegetable oil and left until the natural anti-inflammatory actives, including saponins (which are very useful emollients for irritations) and pigments (carotenoids) are absorbed into the oil, making it go a rich, yellowy colour.
Significantly, polyphenols (flavonoids), the antioxidants that strengthen the capillaries and fight free radicals, would be otherwise destroyed by extreme heat.
The resulting calendula infused oil is used neat, as a carrier oil or added to a blend in aromatherapy practice to add extra healing clout with its remarkable ability to assuage numerous skin problems such as eczema, cracked skin, bruises, varicose veins and cuts.
This is the efficacious base used to make balms, lotions and can be added to cosmetics to improve the overall appearance of the skin, promoting hydration and firmness.
In massage blends it can help prevent and relax muscle spasms.
It also helps treat contact dermatitis, which includes reactions to poison ivy.
Use calendula oil to treat cradle cap on babies’ scalps; soak the area and later gently comb off flaky skin.
Ingredients: certified organic cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, certified organic calendula flowers.
SOMETIMES a thicker, waxy balm is not appropriate in skin care, when an emollient cream spreads more easily over bigger areas and penetrates the skin well.
A calendula cream or lotion delivers good results in many cases for the treatment of acne, psoriasis and innumerable skin rashes - even the inexplicable.
People who have super sensitive skin will enjoy how calendula cream is so simple and non-reactive, because it doesn’t contain any essential oils or other extracts.
They can use the cream as a soothing moisturiser, ensuring that the skin will not react. In the case of reactive skins, it can also be used as a facial cleanser or to remove makeup and is safe and soothing for around the delicate eyes, ensuring that they will not be irritated.
In cream/lotion form, calendula is particularly effective to relieve and heal sunburn.
It will also inhibit bacteria, complimenting your immune system’s natural response to germs and even protects the skin from radiation damage.
Ingredients: Certified organic Calendula flowers in a certified organic extra virgin olive oil infusion, purified water, vegetable emulsifying wax, shea butter, grapefruit seed extract, vitamin E, rosemary extract.
CALENDULA Tincture is your first port of call after an accident, because of how effectively it cleanses and sterilises wounds as well as stopping bleeding with anti-inflammatory properties that promote fast healing.
The tincture is a principal antiseptic topical wash for the skin and mucus membranes.
It can be used diluted in water (1:5) to clean minor wounds and promote skin repair with powerful antiviral and antimicrobial properties that increases beneficial immune responses.
Calendula tincture is often used by midwives to mend a newborn’s belly button after the umbilus is severed.
At the same time, calendula will also soothe the pain associated with many wounds.
The oils and acids within the plant have shown to be effective in fighting pathogens, as well as candida symptoms and even antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Calendula tincture can also be used undiluted (please note this will briefly sting an open wound).
After the skin issue is clean and disinfected, now the calendula balm can be used.
Calendula tincture’s antibacterial properties make it a great astringent mouthwash that promotes a healthy oral environment.
Dilute the tincture in warm water and rinse the mouth to relieve inflammation and fight against gingivitis, cavities and plaque.
Use the tincture as a foot wash, to help treat skin infections such as athlete’s foot, external thrush and ringworm. Or use undiluted on external warts or fungal nails.
Ingredients: Purified water, certified organic botanical undenatured ethanol, certified organic calendula flowers.