Flowers often have herbal uses beyond being something beautiful to look at. This is certainly the case when it comes to calendula. Calendula is most commonly referred to as pot marigold; however, this is not the same annual marigold frequently found in gardens. Calendula is a native Mediterranean plant that belongs to the daisy plant family Asteraceae.
Natural healers have found uses for calendula oil for hundreds of years. In fact, ancient Egyptians believed calendula to have rejuvenating properties. Hindus used it to adorn statues of gods in their temples, in addition to using it to color their food, fabrics, and cosmetics. In the Soviet Union, it was used as a treatment for smallpox and measles. They grew so much of it that it became known in the region as “Russian penicillin.”
Today, the herb has a vast number of uses. Most commonly, the oil is used for skin care issues, as it is known to help heal, soothe and soften skin. It is considered helpful in reducing inflammation and promoting wound healing. Calendula herbal treatments are typically applied topically to help burns, cuts and bruises heal faster. It is also believed to help fight any minor infections that may occur from these types of injuries. It is often used by herbalists for first-degree burns and sunburns as well. Compresses have also been used to help treat varicose veins.
When you take a closer look at calendula, you probably wouldn’t be surprised at its health benefits. For instance, the combination of vitamins C and E found in calendula work together as a healing agent when applied topically to the skin. In addition, calendula has over 20 phytochemicals, natural antioxidant substances thought to prevent disease in humans, and is therefore considered a potent antioxidant. Calendula oil has been used by natural healers for hundreds of years for its reputed ability to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and as an antispasmodic.
According to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, preliminary studies suggest that calendula does indeed work as an anti-inflammatory but also has anti-viral, anti-parasitic, anti-HIV, anti-tumor, and antibacterial properties.
Internally, calendula has other health benefits as well. It has been used to treat gastrointestinal disorders such as upset stomachs and ulcers. In the book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” Phyllis Balch mentions that it is also useful for treating low-grade fevers, toothaches, and menstrual cramps.
This herb may just be a “do-it-all” skin healer – and more! It has been used for all types of issues including:
- minor burns including sunburns
- minor injuries such as sprains and wounds
- snake bites
- bed sores
- varicose veins
- skin ulcerations
- ear infections
You can find calendula in many forms. The fresh or dried petals can be found in liquid form, both as a calendula tincture extract and as an essential calendula oil, as well as in ointment and cream forms. While considered mostly side-effect free, people with sensitivities to the aster family of plants may have an allergic reaction. Also, it should not be used by pregnant or lactating women or women trying to conceive, as some studies indicate it may impact the uterus.