~ Calendula ~
(Calendula Officinalis) aka Pot Marigold or Marigold
First named Calendula by the Ancient Romans, observing that the flowers were in bloom on the first day of calends, of every month. Calendula actually flowers all month, all year, bringing so much joy to any garden.
Believed to possess a powerful magic, a 16th century concoction was made with Calendula to assist one to see fairies.
The 17th Century herbalist & astrologer Nicholas Culpeper described Calendula as the ‘herb of the Sun, and under Leo’, pointing to it’s sunny disposition & bold orange flowers.
During the Middle Ages, a woman who could not choose between suitors would grind Calendula & other flowers to a powder, simmer with honey & wine, cover her body in it, lie down, and repeat 3 times 'St Luke, St Luke, be kind to me. In my dreams let me my true love see'.... And in her dreams she would see the man she was to marry...(I would love to know if anyone is still doing this!!??)
Calendula has incredible healing properties, both internal & external, particularly relating to the skin. Boasting antiseptic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, vulneraray & emmenagogue properties.
Touted as one of the best herbs for treating skin problems, especially where there is inflammation on the skin (through infection or physical damage), Calendula is used to treat all types of wounds & skin infections. With it’s antispectic properties, & strong vulnerary actions, it heals the body by promoting cell repair. It’s believed to promotes wound healing and skin cell regeneration by stimulating the growth of new blood vessels and skin tissue. Calendula works particularly well for slow healing wounds & has gentle skin soothing & healing properties. This is one of my favorite plants to use in my Botanical Skincare & you’ll find it in most of my healing balms & moisturisers!
Calendula has anti-inflammatory properties and is used externally to treat bruises, burns, sores and skin ulcers, along with cuts & scrapes. Calendula’s antifungal properties are useful both externally on the skin and to treat internal fungal infections.
Calendula can be used internally for fevers, gastrointestinal problems such as cramps, indigestion & diaarrhea, & can aid in the relief of gall bladder. A strong infusion of Calendula can be gargled to soothe sore gums.
As an emmengagogue Calendula can bring on delayed menstruation, normalise menstrual cycles & prevent painful periods.
There’s been a lot of research into the compounds called triterpenes in Calendula which have proven anti-inflammatory benefits.
How to use Calendula
The flowering heads of Calendula are used for their medicinal properties (although believe it or not the leaves are also edible!). Pick the fresh flowering heads & use fresh in herbal infusions or sprinkle petals onto salads & baking. The flowerheads can also be dried to infuse into oil for skincare or later use.
For all of the above herbal remedies Calendula can be made into a herbal infusion (a herbal tea with just boiled water poured on top of the flowers & left to steep for at least 10 mins), and either drink to take internally, or bathe the skin in this infusion (in a bath or as a compress).
Calendula makes a beautiful, colorful & useful addition to any garden, self seeding prolifically & flowering year round. Attracting beneficial insects it’s also believed to be an important companion plant promoting the good health & vitality of plants growing nearby.
Note that the true Calendula (Calendula Officinalis) is very different to the true Marigold (Tagetes). The confusion lies in the misuse of common names. Calendula has often been called 'Pot Marigold', however it is not a Marigold at all, but a totally different plant.