The humble marigold Calendula officinalis is a wonderful and powerful herb to get to know. In the words of herbalist David Hoffman, “The value of this exceptional herb cannot be exaggerated when it comes to treating skin problems like wounds, bruises, or burns.”
In addition to its remarkable effects on the skin, Calendula is also a powerful lymphatic cleanser, diaphoretic, circulatory and immune stimulant, hormone balancer, and digestive purgative. It heals tissue, soothes inflammation, dispels dampness, and gently clears congestion away.
If you bend down to touch a Calendula officinalis marigold, you will feel the incredible softness of the petals as well as a cooling sensation. The skin-soothing and tissue-healing properties are evident right away.
Calendula is invaluable as a first-aid herb for wounds because it is antiseptic, pain-killing, and healing to the tissue, all in one. It stops bleeding and draws infections and fluids out of wounds while soothing pain and inflammation. It is a preferred first-aid treatment for burns, along with lavender oil and aloe. Calendula oil is particularly wonderful for relieving and healing skin rashes and irritations of all kinds, including diaper rash and cradle cap. It combines beautifully with arnica oil and plaintain for bruises and abrasions.
Calendula is wonderful medicine for the skin in general, not just as a first-aid herb. When used as a cosmetic, calendula oils and infusions tone, smooth, and nourish the skin and bring brightness to the complexion. The petals are used in all kinds of body washes, scrubs, creams, lotions, and salves. It makes a wonderful scalp rinse for reducing dandruff and itching, encouraging healthy hair growth, and bringing out gold and red highlights in lighter-colored hair.
Calendula’s anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and tissue-healing properties apply when taken internally as well. Calendula is excellent for soothing and healing gastric and duodenal ulcers and digestive inflammation. It clears the lungs and stimulates the immune system against respiratory infections. As a mouthwash and gargle, it’s great for sore throats, oral ulcers, bleeding gums, and respiratory congestion. It inhibits the growth of pathogens and certain parasites, and it clears toxins and inflammation from the digestive tract while encouraging strong, healthy intestinal walls.
Calendula has a deeply cleansing action on the lymphatic system, and it is an important ingredient in our Lymph Symphony tea. As a tea, calendula moves the lymphatic fluid and cleanses the lymphatic system as a whole. It is especially helpful for clearing out the mucky remnants of old infections, generalized congestion, and accumulated metabolic waste. It is specific for swollen glands. For this, it can be taken internally as a tea and also applied externally as a compress.
When infections linger, wounds won’t heal, or when someone is suffering from weariness and general “low immunity”, calendula performs a gentle but deeply thorough cleansing of the system and stimulates the immune system to allow for a rebirth of energy and verve. For respiratory infections or lymph congestion, a warm calendula compress may be placed across the chest or affected area.
Calendula is hardy and grows happily in almost any kind of soil. It likes full sun and moderate watering. It is an annual herb, but it will reseed itself if left alone, and your calendula patch will grow larger with each passing year. You can encourage abundant blooms by pinching off the dead flowers to make room for the new. You can also save the seeds when the ripen and re-sow them yourself, either in the ground or in pots. Either way, this beautiful flower is a powerful medicinal ally to have in your garden or home.
Dried calendula petals are a lovely range of yellows and oranges and can be used to dye rice or as an ingredient in soups, stews, cheeses, and baked goods. In some parts of Europe, it was common for calendula to be grown alongside spinach as a food herb and eaten regularly. The petals can also be used to dye fabric.
Thanks to Alec and Joe, we now have a growing calendula patch in Smile’s garden, and it should be blooming soon. Be sure to stop by and meet this humble, healing flower in person!
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