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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • May 2018
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Calendula — Calendula officinalis

Contemplating a garden this year? Calendula will steal your heart with its gorgeous orange and yellow blossoms and its low maintenance growing status. No herb or vegetable garden, large or small, should be without calendula. Also known as pot marigold or garden marigold, calendula officinalis is native to Eurasia and is a self-seeding annual grown in many regions of the world. It displays the most beautiful, bright, daisy-like flowers and provides many benefits for medicinal use.

Calendula has a lengthy list of actions including: alterative, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent, diaphoretic, immune stimulant, and vulnerary, making it useful for numerous common ailments. It is a very gentle herb, with no known toxicity, making it especially appropriate for babies and the elderly. Individuals with known sensitivity to asteraceae family plants should be cautious with its use.

It is one of the best herbs for skin problems and is known to support cell repair and growth. It can be used for any skin inflammation or injury. Calendula is commonly found in many baby products as its antiseptic properties support skin irritations such as diaper rash and thrush. It’s further used externally for boils, bruises, burns, bunions, eczema, chapped skin, hemorrhoids, herpes, insect bites, sprains, sunburn and varicose veins. Calendula is also highly supportive to the body when used internally. According to “The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine,” herbalists commonly use calendula for “candida, cervical irritation, chicken pox, conjunctivitis, glandular swellings, hemorrhoids, herpes, infection, lymph inflammation, measles, mumps, smallpox, staph infection, stomach inflammation, thrush, and ulcers.”

The whole flowers or petals are used for herbal tea, tincture, compress, poultice, oil infusion, salve and body cream. The tincture can be diluted in distilled water and used as an eyewash, mouthwash or nasal wash. Used topically, infused calendula oil can be used to massage lymph tissue. Additionally, the brightly colored petals can be added to spruce up salads and omelets and have been substituted for saffron to color butter, rice, desserts and egg dishes. Any mundane meal can be sprinkled with the brightly colored petals to create a gourmet experience.

Classically infused into oil, calendula oil should be in every home herbalist’s apothecary. Calendula retains its moisture very well. Leave fresh blossoms to dry for a week or two before infusing into oil to reduce the chance of rancidity.

Calendula Infused Oil

  • Freshly dried calendula petals
  • Olive oil (or grapeseed, sunflower, etc.)

Loosely fill a half pint size mason jar with freshly dried calendula petals, leaving an inch of space at the top. Add oil to fill the jar, leaving 1 inch of headspace at the top of the jar. Let sit for 2-4 weeks in a dark space, and strain out the flower petals to discard. Use the oil topically as body oil for all ages or on any skin problem ranging from dry skin to cuts, scrapes and rashes.

Calendula is a fabulous herb to grow in the garden. It is a hardy herb, blooming early and all season long, providing beauty and attracting pollinators. It is a readily self-seeding annual that will only have to be planted once. The flowers are sticky with resin when ready to pick. This resin is antifungal and a good sign of a healthy plant. The more flowers you pick, the more they will continue to bloom. As one of the easiest and most beautiful flowers to grow, easy to harvest and exceedingly useful, it is a worthwhile addition to any garden type or size.

As always, please talk to your health care provider before adding herbs into your diet.

References: “The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.” Basic Health Publications. 2007. B. Mars.

“Holistic Herbal: A safe and practical guide to making and using herbal remedies.” Thorsons. 1990. D. Hoffman.

“Medical Herbalism.” Healing Arts Press. 2003. D. Hoffman.

“Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide.” Storey Publishing. 2012. R. Gladstar.

Dana Schlies

Dana is a Certified Women’s Herbal Educator and Community Herbalist. She is passionate about educating women about the many botanical and alternative methods to bring the body into balance and create vibrant, healthy living. She utilizes a comprehensive approach including environment, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and botanicals to bring support to the whole body. She is part of the team at Sweet Willow Naturals, and can be reached at 920-530-1188 or [email protected]

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