Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula, or pot marigold, is an old garden favorite. With its sunny orange flowers, it can't help but cheer anyone who sees it. Native to the Mediterranean, they now grow all over the world. The flowers are edible, and can be used in salads and broths. Only the deep orange flowers have medicinal value. The herb was used during the Civil War in the United States to draw out infection. It grows easily in well drained slightly alkaline soil and by nipping off old flowers it will bloom continually.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Calendula infusion is good for stomach upset, ulcers and varicose veins. It may also gently help fevers. It is also taken as a homeopathic remedy.
Externally Calendula can be made into ointment, salve or cream to soothe the skin. It is helpful with cuts, scratches, bruises, sprains, rashes, eczema, diaper rash and other ailments of the skin. The cream is safe enough to use on infants. It is anti-inflammatory and constricts blood vessels to stop bleeding. Flower heads can be rubbed on stings to relieve the pain. Water distilled with flowers are good for inflamed or sore eyes.
Other Uses Calendula was once used to dye butter and cheese. It can also be used as a saffron substitute. It can also be used for culinary purposes to color many different recipes. This herb stimulates the liver to secrete bile which helps digest a meal.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Calendula can be mixed with comfrey for a wonderful healing cream, or with chickweed to make a good topical cream for sore nipples during breastfeeding.
Flowers, leaves. Both flowers and leaves are used. The flowers are first dried in a airy but dark place before being made into an infusion or ointment.
If you are allergic to plants in the daisy or aster family, you may experience a sensitivity to this herb. Calendula may affect the menstrual cycle and fertility, so only use while trying to conceive, during pregnancy or nursing under supervision of a certified herbalist. While there are no known drug interactions, it is still wise to tell your care provider what you are taking when considering taking this herb. Do not use any ointments that are fat-based on oozing wounds. Tea would be a better choice in that situation.
Preparation and Dosage
External calendula preparations can be used as needed. Follow the instructions for anything being taken internally. Tea can be made with 1 to 2 teaspoons of flowers and 1 cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes, then strain. Three cups per day is the usual dose.
Tincture is also used three times per day, 1 to 2 ml each dose. The tincture can be put into tea or a little water.