By Jane Seeley with GardensAll
Calendula, the Little Plant that Could
Calendula (Calendula officinalis), is a flower with many benefits and from a very worthy family of plants. Related to—and sometimes confused with—Marigold (Tagetes), they’re both little cousins of the Sunflower family (Asteraceae or Compositae).
Calendula, a.k.a. Pot Marigold, is hardy as an early spring plant that lasts well through fall. The calendula flower is an amazing powerhouse of medicinal benefit. Calendula is beautiful, low maintenance, fights off bad guys, heals and feeds. What a lady!
Uses and Benefits of Calendula
Calendula has been found to be beneficial for a number of ailments and especially for the skin.
Calendula, as evidenced by its vivid yellow and orange colors, is rich in the flavonoids and carotenoids found in the yellow-orange range of fruits and vegetables.
- Antioxidants –
- Vitamin A – good for skin and eyes
- beta carotene
CALENDULA TOPICAL APPLICATIONS – Gels, Cream and Oils
Good for foot rubs, lip balms, hand creams, and all sorts of skin ailments, calendula uses include:
- Skin rashes, eczema, psoriasis
- Diaper rash
- Skin sores, minor cuts and wounds
- Insect bites
- Post radiation skin inflammation
- Moistens and soothes dry and racked skin
- Soothes sore muscles
- Antimicrobial & Antiseptic
- Anti-fungal – good for
- jock itch / vaginal itching
- athletes foot
Calendula is also beneficial for eyes and cataract prevention and for use as an eye wash. Here’s a simple eyewash recipe from NerdyFarmWife.com,1)https://thenerdyfarmwife.com/calendula-a-natural-remedy-for-irritated-eyes/, and a pink eye poultice recipe from DrAxe.com.2)https://draxe.com/home-remedy-for-pink-eye/.
INTERNAL APPLICATIONS – Calendula Tea
- Antioxidant – protect cells from oxidative damage
- Digestive aid for digestive problems
- Stomach aches
- Abdominal cramps
- Menstrual cramps – (emmenagogic, which stimulates blood flow to the pelvis)
- Urinary tract problems
- Tonic for overall boost to vigor and wellbeing
- Induces sweating – (sudorific)
- Antispasmodic – (relaxant; natural muscle relaxant)
- Sore throat
- Internal – 3-12g of dried herb daily
- Externally – as a tea containing 1-2tsp of dried herb per 8oz/240ml of water 3)
- Fluid extract (1:1 in 40 percent alcohol): 0.5 – 1.0 milliliters three times per day
- Skin ointments with two to five percent calendula. 3)
Resource: Image by Jan Berry of TheNerdyFarmWife.com 3)
Calendula Officinalis Deters Garden Pests
Calendula repels tomato hornworms and asparagus beetles, while marigolds deter cabbage maggots, Mexican bean beetles, aphids and many other pests. Plant both along crop rows and between plants for a little extra color and added insect protection.3)http://www.hobbyfarms.com/keep-garden-pests-away-with-companion-planting-4/
Lovely Garden Gifts
Our favorite gifts ever are those from the garden. Consider turning your lovely calendula flowers (and other kinds) into gifts for holidays, birthdays and Mother’s Day.
Turn your dried calendula flowers into:
- Calendula cream – place it in these cute reusable hinged lid jars
- Calendula oil – place it in an elegant bottle; see how to make your own
- Calendula salve – healing / medicinal; see how to make your own
- Calendula tea – wrap the dried flowers with a tea infuser and teapot or tea cup
- Greeting cards – press calendula flowers onto card stock for homemade cards
For your gift giving homemade goodies, you can find your choice of cool labels to personalize your gift.
Enjoy growing and using this beautiful flower that can heal and help keep your skin healthy! This anti-inflammatory flower may protect cells from free radical damage via its powerful flavonoids which are known to help in UV filtration. One friend found my salve to be very helpful with his son’s eczema and it is useful in treating other skin conditions, as well.
While this is a DIY project if you are interested in pursuing creams and salves to sell to others I highly recommend Richo Cech’s book “Making Plant Medicine”; this man literally wrote the book on formulating herbal products.”
But… if you can’t make your own just yet, you don’t have to wait. You can find some on Amazon and make plans for making your own during the next growing season:
More on Culinary Calendula
Now while it’s true that the calendula flowers and leaves are edible, they can be very bitter. Some people like how they add beauty and a little gourmet touch to salads, but if you try it, you may want to start with just the petals sprinkled around for garnish and work your way up to the entire flower. Consuming the flower however does provide beneficial antioxidants. But if you don’t like the taste you can use the flowers externally for medicine instead.
One great culinary use of calendula petals that won’t affect a dish’s flavor is obtained by sprinkling them in rice instead of saffron which is quite expensive. The dried calendula petals will impart a rich golden yellow color to the rice, while imparting a barely perceptible flavor.
Other culinary uses depend on whether you like the flavor of the flowers. In addition to adding flowers to salads, try using them in herbal butters and cheese spreads, or use the dried flowers to make tea.
More on Medicinal Uses of Calendula
Calendula is a commonly used as a topical gel or ointment for skin rashes, diaper rash, skin sores, muscle soreness, acne, and a number of other conditions.
WebMD published a blurb on how early research points to Calendula ointment being applied to skin after radiation therapy helps reduce skin inflammation. Now that’s powerful… and promising!4)http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-235-calendula.aspx?activeingredientid=235&activeingredientname=calendula
Extensive research is still being done to find more conclusive evidence of Calendula and its positive effects in helping to treat cancer. But, we always recommend using caution when using Calendula or any other plant to treat ailments.
Calendula is not just a topical medicine. When drunk in tea form, it aids digestive problems, stomach aches, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract problems.5)http://www.calendulatea.net/health-benefits/
This bold and perky plant has more than looks and longevity. In the garden calendula helps deter pesky insects,6)https://www.growveg.com/guides/the-many-uses-of-calendula/ and in salves, tinctures, teas and decoctions it helps in healing and health.
Calendula: The little plant that does!
Contributing writer, Jane Seeley:
With the creative flare of an artist and the eye of a photographer, Jane Seeley is a master at creating lovely gardenscapes reminiscent of a painting.
“Growing up in North Carolina, my first gardening friend was an elderly neighbor who grew a huge garden and engaged the neighborhood in evening bean shelling and corn shucking.
Transplanted to Mt. Shasta California in the mid 90’s, I learned how to garden organically at 3,500 feet at the base of a volcano where summers are short and winters long and cold. Each year I learn how little I know as each season brings its challenges and rewards. Now I’m breaking new ground as a garden writer, sharing from my lifetime of experience and love of gardening.”
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