Calendula officinalis is also known as “pot marigold,” even though it is not a pure marigold. A sweetly scented member of the daisy family, this perky little plant sports bright yellow or orange flowers and is native to the Mediterranean region.
Today, this annual plant that blooms profusely throughout the growing season can be found all over the world and was originally grown for both food seasoning and medicine. It is recognized as a potent medicinal plant in both Western and Asian traditional medicine.
Among some of the most noted medicinal uses of calendula are:
- Immune system booster
- Anti-fungal action to help combat athlete’s foot
- Reduction in digestive inflammation
- Reduction in menstrual pain
- Fights pain associated with ear infection
- Treatment for diaper rash
- Reduction in swelling and pain from spider bites and bee stings
- Treatment for sore throat
- Aids in detoxification
- Fever reducer
Calendula, the skin wonder
One of the most recognized uses for calendula is as a therapy for skin. Applications range from beauty to first aid — everything from lip balms, wound washes and dry skin creams to a variety of tinctures and oils. One of the reasons that this happy flower is so useful for skin is that it is warm and dry along with being an amazing moisturizer. It is a wonderful treatment for swollen, painful, hot or pus-filled tissue — reducing inflammation effectively. It is also rich in carotenoids which nourish the skin.
Here are several ways to use calendula to soothe a variety of skin conditions:
Patients with acute dermatitis or those who are undergoing postoperative irradiation treatment for breast cancer have found that calendula salve helps to provide protection from environmental stressors.
Calendula is known for its ability to heal new and old wounds, burns and bruises by increasing blood flow to the wounded area and assisting the body in making new tissue.
The antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral properties of calendula help make it especially useful for healing lacerations, open sores and piercings.
This reduces the amount of time that it takes for a wound to close. Calendula salves or balms can also help reduce discomfort associated with dressing changes.
For skin that is red, inflamed and irritated from a sunburn, calendula cream is a wonderful and effective relief. Apply salve directly to the skin twice daily or as needed until pain and swelling decrease.
Scars and varicose veins
To heal scars and sooth varicose and thread veins on the face, make a wash by steeping some calendula leaves in water for 20 minutes to 3 hours. Strain the tea and pat on your face for about 20 minutes and rinse. For scars and varicose veins, make a strong tea and add 5 cups to warm bath water and soak for 30 minutes.
As a moisturizer
The potent anti-inflammatory properties combined with the rich moisturizing elements make calendula a popular addition to many organic skin care products. Calendula oil is a wonderful therapy for painful eczema and cracked skin, and is often prescribed by dermatologists.
Calendula is an easy-to-grow annual or short-lived perennial in most places that requires very little work. It is not fond of frost or extreme heat but does well in mild climates with plenty of sun.
Most people grow this valuable plant from seed and it happily spreads with volunteers all season long. For best results, plant any time after your last spring frost into early summer. Plants will grow in a variety of soils but like full sun and respond well to organic compost.
Place seeds about ¼-inch deep and water well, but don’t oversaturate. Fertilizer is not necessary, but as mentioned, plants respond well to a light layer of organic compost.
Calendula will also adapt well to container planting, which some people prefer for ease of use. Because of their profuse blooming, calendula pots are a wonderful way to brighten any outdoor setting.
If you wish to use your own flowers for creams, balms and salves, be sure to pick them when they are open at their peak. As you pick, the plant will produce more flowers. Remove flower heads and dry them face down in a location out of direct sunlight. When petals are crunchy, pull them off and put them in a glass jar with a lid.
Easy homemade calendula salve
You can find a wide range of calendula products online and in most organic and health food stores. However, you can also make your own healing salve and other products for a fraction of the cost. Here is a recipe for a salve that can be used for beautifying and treating damaged skin.
- 1 1/2 cups of organic coconut oil (warmed)
- 1 cup of dried calendula flowers
- 1 oz of bees wax
- Mason jars
- Place the flowers and the coconut oil in a jar. Be sure that the oil covers the flowers.
- Fill a pan with water and place the jar into the pan.
- Heat up the water until it simmers and let the oil infuse for about 5 hours, adding water when necessary.
- Remove the oil from the heat and strain it into another mason jar, squeezing all the oil from the blossoms.
- Add the bees wax to the oil and put it back in the pan on the stove, warming the wax until it is melted. Stir occasionally with the wooden chopstick.
- Once the wax is melted completely, pour it into a container of your choice.
- Let the salve cool and put a lid on the container. It will keep for up to a year.
Calendula is one of the more useful plants you can grow.
How do you use calendula? Tell us in the section below: