Calendula Officinalis
06-Feb-2007

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Botanical Name: Calendula officinalis
Common Names: Garden Marigold, Pot Marigold, Golden Marigold, Holligold, Marybud, Gold Bloom
 
Overview
Calendula officinalis is a pretty plant that is often used in ornamental gardening. It has several medicinal uses as well, especially, according to tradition, in healing wounds. Calendula officinalis has been used in several ancient cultures, including Indian, Greek, Arabic, and Roman. Not only was it used to treat medical conditions, but it was also used to dye fabrics. Both the petals and the leaves can be eaten. Some chefs put the petals on plates as garnishes for their dishes. Sometimes the leaves are used in salads. The petals are sometimes used as a dye for food. Specifically, the yellow petals were used historically to give color to cheese.
 
Many do not realize that marigold plants have medicinal value. They are planted in gardens for their beautiful warm-toned flowers. The flowers tend to keep rodents out of the garden, because they do not taste good to animals, and let off a strong fragrance. Traditionally, Calendula is used for treatment of skin conditions. Other uses include treatment for ulcers and inflammation. The flowers are the part of the plant used for medicinal reasons. The plant grows well in North American and Europe. So much of the herb was grown in Russia for medicinal reasons that it earned the nickname “Russian Penicillin.”
 
While they are annuals, Calendula plants are very hardy, and the flowers produce seeds that gardeners can easily harvest, so they are not expensive to re-grow each year. This adds to their popularity as garden flowers.
 
Skin Conditions
Treating skin conditions is the most frequent use of Calendula officinalis. The herb has been found to be effective in treating inflammation of the skin. This includes conditions such as varicose veins, hemorrhoids, ulcerations, cysts, mastitis, and more! Calendula officinalis is very effective in treating eczema, a skin condition where the skin is irritated by constant itching. Acne is also helped by the use of Calendula lotions.
 
Menstrual Cramps
While there are not scientific studies relating to this, some believe that Calendula officinalis flowers help relieve the inflammation due to menstruation. This is because Calendula is believed to have antispasmodic properties.
 
Wounds and Burns
Calendula officinalis is used in the healing of wounds and burns. Rubbing some Calendula on a burn can take some of the pain away. This even works on sunburns. Do not rub anything on a burn that has blisters or is open, as this can cause infection. There have been several animal studies done to show that Calendula helps increase the speed with which wounds heal. It is believed that the herb works by increasing the amount of blood to the wound. Also, because Calendula has anti-inflammatory properties, it helps to sooth wounds and reduces swelling.
 
Other Treatments
Women who are breast-feeding find that rubbing Calendula on sore nipples helps relieve the pain and irritation. Because of the anti-inflammatory properties of Calendula, it is often used to treat sore throats and mouth sores. It makes a great antioxidant, which may help to increase the immune function of the body. It is said that Calendula mixed into a lotion will help control acne, diaper rash, and razor burns. The plant has been used to treat conjunctivitis and other eye problems. It helps to reduce any swelling in the eye.
 
Calendula shows promising benefits in the area of cancer research. More study needs to be done on this benefit. Calendula has also shown to have antiviral properties in laboratory tests. It is unclear at present how these benefits transfer to humans.
 
Plant Description
The Calendula officinalis plant is an annual garden plant. It produces yellow, orange, and red flowers that look somewhat like a lion’s mane. The leaves are pale green spatulate, or sometimes oblanceolate sessile. The teeth on the leaves are spaced quite wide. It is a short plant, standing less than a foot tall most of the time.
 
The plant is harvested between Jun and September. The whole flower is used to make the medicinal herb, so the entire head of the flower is harvested. If the color of the petals is going to be used, they must be dried in the shade, and then stored in tightly sealed containers.
 
What’s It Made Of?
Calendula is high in flavenoids and triterpene saponins, which give it its anti-inflammatory properties. Sterol fraction gives the herb some hormonal benefits for women. Other ingredients include carotenoids, phytosterols, and polysaccharides resin. Calendula also seems to have antiviral properties, but scientists are unsure which constituents make this possible.
 
Available Forms
Calendula is a very versatile herb. Tea from the flowers can be brewed to help with ulcers, colitis, and other stomach ailments. Taken internally, the herb also helps with gallbladder issues.
 

The most common use of Calendula is topical. It can be made into lotions, compresses, or poultices. It works really well to heal ugly skin conditions, such as acne and broken capillaries. Taking sap from the stem of the plant helps with warts and calluses. The dried flowers can be rubbed on wounds to help speed healing.


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