Calendula officinalis is an orange flowered plant that is commonly known as Marigold. It is very easy to grow and one of the oldest of all cultivated flowers. Calendulas came to North America with the first European settlers. Today, the herb is found in many gardens all over the world.
Both leaves and flower petals are edible and used in salads and soups but taste rather bitter. The dried petals of the Calendula officinalis flower were used for their edible yellow dye and as a saffron substitute. But the cheery flowers also have a long history of medicinal use.
Calendula has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb for wound healing and inflammations. It helps to soothe irritated skin, such as itches, rashes, bug bites or burns, but also to heal inflammation internally. This makes the herb very useful for wounds both internally and externally.
Calendula tea is a traditional remedy to support overall digestive function. In herbal and homeopathic medicine, Calendula officinalis is used as a stimulant for the immune and lymphatic system.
For its skin conditioning qualities, Calendula extract is widely found in cosmetics and skincare. Research suggests that Calendula flower extract can increase collagen production and hence skin firmness. This helps to slow down skin aging.
Calendula officinalis L. is a member of the Asteraceae or daisy family. These hardy annuals have possibly originated in parts of Europe and Asia but can survive in most temperate places. They have many common names such as Marigold, Pot Marigold, Garden Marigold, Ruddles, Scotch Marigold or Poor Man’s Saffron.
Numerous Calendula varieties are found within the Calendula officinalis species. These varieties bloom in many different beautiful colors.
Another common Calendula species is Calendula arvensis or Field marigold. These adaptable plants are native to Southern and Central Europe. They have a single flower head with bright yellow to orange petals.
Calendula officinalis is most often used in herbal medicine. The calendula oil from these plants specifically has been used in healing and herbal medicine for generations.
Calendula flowers should not be confused with ornamental marigolds. Tagetes are ornamental garden flowers that are also known in English as Marigold.
What does the plant look like?
Calendula officinalis is an annual or short-lived perennial growing to about 60 cm of height. Its oblong leaves have hair on both the upper and inner surfaces.
Like other members of the daisy family, Marigold has very small flowers collected into a flower head. These bright yellow or orange flower heads bloom from early summer until frost.
Each flower head produces numerous seeds. Calendula officinalis seeds are brown and crescent shaped.
The flowers are edible and taste slightly bitter and peppery. They can be used to add colour to salads and other dishes. To make an herbal extract, the cut flowers are either used fresh or dried.
Where does the name come from?
The name Calendula is derived from the Latin word ‘calendae’ meaning ‘first day of the month’. It refers to the almost year-round blooming season of the flowers. The species name officinalisis derived from the Latin word for 'medicinal' or 'of the shops'.
The common name Marigold is said to come from ‘Mary’s gold’. The bright flowers were often used to honor the Virgin Mary.
Calendula officinalis has been traditionally used as a wound healing remedy. Creams and ointments with Calendula extract are mainly used for burns, cuts, rashes, bruises, and swellings. They are also used to treat inflammation of the skin, such as eczema and others.
Calendula officinalis benefits for wound healing have been backed up by current research. Especially acute wound healing showed faster improvement after topical treatment with Calendula flower extract. The existing inflammations were reduced, and more new tissue was formed.
An animal study showed that a cream with Calendula extract was effective in acute lymphedema. Lymphedema is a swelling caused by excess lymphatic fluid. Calendula is a so-called lymphagogue herb. It promotes the flow of the lymphatic fluid.
A few studies with Calendula officinals were done in breast cancer patients. Some reported that it was beneficial for prevention of acute dermatitis during radiation therapy.
Its anti-inflammatory properties make Calendula also a popular ingredient for skincare and other cosmetic products. Moreover, a small study in healthy volunteers showed benefits of Calendula for skin hydration and firmness. The hydration effect may prevent skin alteration and early ageing.
Still, more clinical studies are needed to further support Calendula officinalis medicinal uses.
Medicinal Properties of Calendula officinalis
The plant has been used in herbal medicine for its
- wound healing
activity. Also, spasmolytic and antioxidant properties have been described for different plant extracts. Calendula essential oil is effective against certain bacteria and fungi. Test tube studies showed potential antiviral and anti-tumour activities of the herb.
How and what is it used for?
Calendula can be found in many different preparations. The flower extract can be prepared as a tincture to be taken internally or as mouthwash.
Calendula ointment, oil, or cream can be used to promote wound healing on the skin. It is used for swelling, scrapes, burns, diaper rashes, bug bites and more.
Calendula tea is a gentle way to soothe the tissues of the digestive tract while also calming the body down. This can also help to relax the muscles, especially in digestive or period cramping.
In skincare, the herb helps to soothe and condition the skin.
Health Canada approves the use of Calendula officinalis in herbal medicine:
- to help relieve inflammatory conditions of the digestive system.
- to help relieve skin inflammations and irritations.
What can Calendula Help with
- healing wounds topically
- stomach and mouth ulcers
- inflammatory stomach conditions
- scrapes and burns
- skin rashes and skin conditions of all kinds such as eczema and psoriasis
- diaper rashes
- leaky gut
- bleeding gums
- relieving stagnation in the body
- chapped nipples from breast-feeding
- PMS, period pain, or cramps
Medicinal Properties of Calendula Officinalis
- antispasmodic or spasmolytic
- circulatory stimulant
- possible anti-tumour action
- possible anti-viral action
The active compounds are mainly found in the flowers of the plant. Calendula flowers are rich in many different biologically active substances. They all contribute to the medicinal benefits of the herb.
The main compounds within Calendula are the triterpenoids. These compounds seem to be the most important anti-inflammatory principles. They also seem to reduce or prevent edema.
Other substances identified in Calendula may also be responsible for the anti-inflammatory and wound healing effects of the plant. These substances include saponins, flavonoids, carotenoids, and polysaccharides.
Flavonoids also show antioxidant activity. Antioxidants help protect against oxidative stress by scavenging free radicals. Oxidative stress plays a large role in the aging process and the development of chronic diseases. The antioxidants help reduce inflammation and keep skin healthy.
Calendula also helps forming new connective tissue and blood vessels on wound surfaces. This promotes a speedy wound healing.
Calendula is well-known as a vulnerary, a remedy used in healing wounds. This is one of the traditional Calendula officinalis homeopathy uses. It both helps to soothe and heal the skin. These actions make it an incredible tool for healing tissues internally as well.
Overall, this herb works on the body from an internal and external place.
Calendula is generally considered safe for most people and side effects are rare.
However, the herb is not suitable for people with allergies to members of the daisy family, including ragweed, chrysanthemums, and daisies. In rare cases, it may cause an allergic reaction. Stop use if allergic reactions occur.
Oral use of Calendula should be avoided during pregnancy.
Remember to talk to your doctor before starting any new health product, especially if you are on medication, pregnant or breastfeeding.
Pascoe Canada does not offer health or medical advice as we are not a healthcare practitioner. Please speak with your healthcare practitioner before beginning any program related to nutrition, diet, exercise, fitness, medical, and/or wellness. All content published by Pascoe Canada is developed through collaborating with licensed medical professionals and contributors. This includes text, graphics, images, and other material on the website, newsletter, and products (“Content”). This content is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The content does not substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always do your own research on whether this is for you along with your healthcare practitioner advice. Always consult your healthcare practitioner prior to use specific herbs because you might have underlined conditions needs professional care. The content is general in nature and are subject to change. It is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects.