- Family Asteraceae (formerly Compositae)
- Calendula officinalis
- Marigold, Pot marigold, Holligold/Holigold, Goldbloom/Gold-bloom, Golds, Mary Bud/Marybud, Ruddes, Mary Gowles, Garden/English/African/American/Aztec Marigold
- Spanish: Caléndula, Mercadela, Coronilla, Virreyna Caléndula, Cempasúchil, Pericón, Flor de Muerto, Cincollagas
- Nahuatl: Cempoalxóchitl
- Maya: Ix-ti-pu
- Calendula should not be taken internally during pregnancy.
- When growing or picking calendula flowers, make sure the plants are Calendula officinalis and not Tagetes species, of which the French, African, and Mexican marigolds are common. They have different properties and must not be used for herbal teas. Instead, those plants are used for warts and also as insecticides or weedkillers.
Native to southern Europe and parts of Asia, calendula is now cultivated worldwide as a popular item in home gardens as it attracts bees for pollination and keeps harmful insects away from other plants. The herb is an annual, growing to about two feet in height with vivid orange to yellow flower heads similar in structure to the daisy. The Calendula genus is native to the Mediterranean. The native American marigold looks very similar and belongs to the Tagetes genus.
Calendula was named by the ancient Romans, who observed that the plant was in bloom on the first day (Latin: kalends) of every month. They looked upon the plants nonstop-blooming as a symbol of joy, and cultivated it in their gardens to spread happiness. The regular supply of fresh petals and young leaves contributed to its frequent use.
Ancient Egyptians valued it as a rejuvenating herb.
Hindus used it to decorate temple altars.
Persians and Greeks garnished and flavored food with the flower petals.
The Germans added handfuls of the flowers to their soups and broths to add body, color, and strength, and hence the nickname of “pot marigold”. Europeans have also long used it to flavor soups and stews and to color butter and cheese.
During the American Civil War, doctors on the battlefield used the flowers on a large scale to treat open wounds. It proved effective as an antiseptic, staunching the bleeding, preventing infection, and speeding the healing of wounds. The practice continued by doctors during WWI.
Medieval monks prescribed it for bowel problems, liver complaints, and insect or snake bites.
Aemilius Macer’s 12th century herbal, which was published throughout the 13th and 14th centuries, recommended simply looking at the plant to improve eyesight, clearing the head, and encouraging cheerfulness (not a bad idea!).
During the 17th century, Culpeper advocated it to “strengthen the heart” and for smallpox and measles.
The Aztec marigold was highly esteemed in pre-Hispanic Mexico for its ability to heal many infirmities and used the flowers in many of their rituals. One historical account describes armloads of them being carried in ceremonies honoring their gods. Mayan priests washed their hands and faces with a tea of the leaves and flowers before calling on the spirits. It is still used in celebrations of the Day of the Dead when they are strewn over graves and home altars. Today, this once-exalted plant has been reduced to feed for chickens, giving a bright yellow color to the yolks and to the skin of the chickens themselves.
- heals wounds
- mildly estrogenic
- menstrual regulator
- prevent hemorrhaging
- relieve muscle spasms
- stimulates bile production
- bitter glycosides
- essential oils
- volatile oil
- Flower heads and petals
- The more vivid the color, the higher is the level of active medicinal ingredients.
- A related wild species, C. arvense, seems to have similar therapeutic properties.
- many uses for infusions (see below)
- ointments to heal minor burns and sores
- creams for cuts and scrapes, as well as dry eczema and sunburn
- infused oil for inflamed, dry skin, chilblains, and hemorrhoids
- tinctures for eczema, or taken to stimulate the liver and digestion
- fresh petals added to bathwater to leave the skin soft, while healing minor irritants
- infused oil soothe inflammations, chilblains, and cracked nipples from breastfeeding
- compresses applied to slow-healing wounds
- poultices from the leaves for gouty swellings
- infused oil suppositories for vaginal yeast infections
- gargle for sore throats and to relieve the pressure in congested ears.
Calendula is one of the most well-known and versatile herbs in Western herbal medicine. Infusions are commonly used to treat such chronic fungal infections as ringworm or oral thrush, as an effective douche for vaginal yeast infections, to aid digestion, menopausal problems, menstrual pain, and esophogeal inflammations, and as a mouthwash, to heal gums after a tooth extraction, mouth ulcers, and gum inflammations.
This plant has a particular affinity for women. Taken regularly, marigold tea is helpful for painful periods, tender ovaries, blocked tubes, and in maintaining equilibrium during menopause. It has a mild estrogenic action often effective in reducing menstrual pain and regulating menstrual bleeding. When taken regularly, calendula will clear up cellulite, especially if used in conjunction with massage.
Taken internally, calendula helps inflammatory digestive system problems, including gastritis, peptic ulcers, regional ileitis, and colitis. It is also useful in expelling amoebas and intestinal worms and such fungal infections as candidiasis.
It is best known as an antiseptic, astringent, and an antimicrobial used on cuts, wounds, skin infections, varicose veins and hemorrhoids. It is especially helpful with fungal conditions, including athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, and cradle cap. It also helps sore nipples from breast feeding.
Calendula has long been used as a detoxifying herb and for helping to treat the cause of such conditions characterized by fever and infection. The herb is also effective for cleansing the liver and gallbladder.
If taken as a hot infusion, it promotes sweating, thereby helping to relieve fevers while improving blood and lymphatic circulation, thus enabling the body to expel toxins.