In my days as a naturopathic medical student, oh so many years ago, one of my jobs on the Bastyr University campus was to manage the botanical medicine laboratory. This was a facility that we built right next to the botanical medicine gardens for the purposes of taking the plants from the gardens and turning them into medicines. One of my favorite annual projects was picking fresh Calendula flowers, drying them on racks, and then making an oil infusion that we would use as a base for all sorts of different topical skin care products like salves, creams, ointments, lotions, and lip balms. To this day, we still grow a Calendula patch every year with seeds that we collect from the last seasons harvest. This article by my team at UpWellness will help you get to know this beautiful and most useful medicinal plant.
You’ve probably seen calendula in the garden before and wrongly assumed it was nothing but a pretty (yet, ultimately useless) ornamental marigold. In reality, calendula, also known as pot marigold or calendula officinalis is a different plant entirely…one that is far from useless. It is one of the most potent medicinal herbs and can be used in several exciting ways for health and wellbeing. Read on to find out more.
How to use it
Calendula can be harvested straight from the garden and used to create your own salve, balm, tincture, or tea. You can also purchase pure calendula oil or toss the flowers into your favorite salad or soup. The possibilities are nearly endless with this gentle, yet effective plant. Since calendula is primarily used topically to relieve skin conditions, you will want to whip up a batch of this simple, moisturizing salve to help speed recovery of any skin ailment.
Calendula Coconut Salve
What you’ll need:
- Double boiler
- Long wooden spoon
- Measuring cup, for pouring
- Shallow tin or jar with lid
- ¾ cup calendula oil
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 1 oz beeswax, grated
- 15-18 drops lavender essential oil, or another scent of choice
- Pinch of dried turmeric powder (optional, for color)
What to do:
- Place about an inch of water in the bottom part of your double boiler and pour calendula oil into the top.
- Turn heat to low and add grated beeswax and coconut oil.
- Stir until all ingredients are melted together and smooth.
- Add essential oil of choice and a large pinch of turmeric, if desired and stir rapidly to incorporate into the mixture. Remove from heat.
- Dump salve into measuring cup to help ease of pouring and transfer salve to as many tins as you can fill.
- Allout the salve to sit out on the counter until hardened.
- Cover and store at room temperature and use as needed.
Relieve eczema – Use pure calendula oil or a salve or cream with calendula to help bring relief from dry and itchy eczema.
Reduce gum inflammation – Mouthwash with calendula could help prevent gum disease and decrease oral inflammation due to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. One 2 week study of mouthwash containing calendula, rosemary, and ginger showed that this combination could significantly decrease plaque, gum inflammation, and bleeding.
Eases muscle spasms – Calendula is often added to sports recovery creams because it is well-known for its ability to reduce tension in muscles and prevent cramping and spasms. This also makes it helpful to reduce diarrhea and the pain from sprained muscles.
Reduce menstruation discomforts – When you feel those PMS symptoms coming on strong, sip on a glass of calendula tea. The plant can help regulate your cycle, reduce menstrual cramping, and ease overall discomfort. You can also try drawing a warm bath with a few drops of calendula oil or fresh flowers.
Help promote skin healing – Not only is calendula an effective anti-inflammatory agent, but it can also help speed wound closure by stimulating collagen production and encouraging tissue growth. Apply it to any stings, bug bites, scrapes, burns, cuts, or bruises, to ease pain and promote healing.
Soothe diaper rash – Research has shown that calendula could be significantly more effective than aloe vera for diaper rash. Even better, combine a few drops of calendula oil with aloe vera and apply it to the affected area. You can also buy or make your own diaper rash cream with these and other nourishing ingredients.
Could discourage cancer – Though more studies are needed for definitive proof of calendula’s cancer prevention capabilities, preliminary animal research suggests that it may actually fight carcinogenic activity within tumors and ward off infectious invaders.
Note: Avoid using calendula orally or topically if pregnant or breastfeeding as it may cause a miscarriage, and not enough is known regarding its effects on a breastfeeding child. Also, stop taking calendula at least two weeks before any scheduled surgeries since it has a mild sedative effect and could cause drowsiness, especially when combined with other sedative drugs.
Anyone with an allergy to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, or other plants of the Asteraceae/Compositae should avoid using calendula as it could cause a reaction.
-The UpWellness Team