Calendula

Calendula officinalis, Compositae. It is also known as marigold, marybud and bull's eyes.

The yellow petal flowers are the parts that are used.

The petals are collected in the summer. They need to be dried with great care so they don't discolour.

Functions of calendula

Calendula:

  • is one of the best herbs for treating local skin problems. It can be used safely wherever there is inflammation of the skin due to infection or physical damage. It can be used for any external bleeding or wound, bruising or strains. It can be used on diaper rash and sore nipples. It will also be helpful for slow healing wounds and skin ulcers. It is ideal as a first aid treatment for minor burns and scalds. Local treatments may be with a lotion, poultice or compress, whichever is the most appropriate.
  • has antiseptic and astringent properties which, when used internally, stimulate the immune system and help the body fight against infections such as the flu and herpes viruses. It has also been used for digestive tract infections (including enteritis, dysentery worms and amebae) and viral hepatitis. It also has marked antifungal properties.
  • reduces lymphatic congestion and swollen lymph glands.
  • has anti-inflammatory properties that will assist with healing gastric and duodenal ulcers and for inflammation and irritation of the stomach and bowel. It checks diarrhea and stops bleeding. It assists the cleansing function of the liver.
  • has an affinity for the female reproductive system regulating menstruation and relieving menstrual cramps. Its estrogenic effects helps in menopause and reduces breast congestion. Its astringent properties help reduce excessive bleeding. During childbirth it promotes contractions and delivery of the placenta.

Notes on calendula

  • Calendula should not be used internally during pregnancy.
  • As an external soothing application it can be combined with slippery elm. A useful antiseptic lotion will be produced by combining it with golden seal and myrrh.
  • Do not confuse this plant with the French or African marigolds (Tagetes sp.).

Dosage

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonsful of the florets and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times per day.

Tincture: take 1-4 ml of the tincture three times per day.

Externally:

To make a compress take a clean cloth or towel and soak it in either a hot or cold herbal infusion.

A poultice is a soft damp mixture that is added to part of the body. You can use fresh or dried herbs as a poultice, placed between two pieces of gauze. Make the herbal mixture into a paste (crush the fresh herbs or add some water to the dry herbs) to spread over the gauze. Then bind the gauze poultice to the affected area using a light cotton bandage.

For the gardener

Calendula is a hardy annual that will grow from seeds sown in the spring and summer. They will grow in most soil conditions as long as they are well drained. They benefit from tip pruning to prevent the stems and flowers from becoming straggly.

References

Duke, J. A. 2000, Anti-aging Prescriptions. Rodale.

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, D. 2001, Healthy Bones and Joints. Newleaf.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

Woodward, P. 2003, Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies. Hyland House.

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