Calendula ‘True Marigold’ Flower (Calendula officinalis)
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A number of studies have described the chemistry of calendula. The plant contains a number of oleanolic acid glycosides. Flavonol and triterpene glycosides have been isolated from C. officinalis via high pressure chromatography. Calendulin (also known as bassorin) has been identified in the plant as have sterols and fatty acids such as calendic acid. Additionally, the plant contains triterpenoid in free and ester forms, tocopherols, mucilage, and a volatile oil. Enzymatic activity of calendula extracts has been described. The carotenoid pigments have been used as coloring agents in cosmetics and the volatile oil has been used in perfumes.
The major chemical constituents of Calendula oil are a-cadinol, limonene, a-cadinene, p-cymene, 1, 8-cineol along with other flavonoids, terpenoids, coumarins, flavonol glycosides, carotenoids, sesquiterpene glucoside, amino acids, triterpene oligoglycosides, saponins, and oleanane-type triterpene glycosides.
Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-phlogistic, anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, anti-viral, aperient, astringent, cholagogue, detoxifier, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, estrogenic, hemostatic, immunostimulant, vulnerary.
Acne, athlete’s foot, blepharitis, candida, cold sores, conjunctivitis, coughs, cramps, eczema, fungal infections, gastritis, good digestion, hemorrhoids, HIV, menopausal symptoms, menstrual cramps, minor burns, phthiriasis (dry), relieving colitis, ringworm, sore throats, skin ulcerations, snake bites, sprains, sunburns, varicose veins, viral infections, warts, wounds.
Marigold or more commonly Calendula has been used medicinally for centuries. Traditionally, it has been used to treat conjunctivitis, blepharitis, eczema, gastritis, minor burns including sunburns, warts, and minor injuries such as sprains and wounds. It has also been used to treat cramps, coughs, and snake bites. Calendula has a high content of flavonoids, chemicals that act as anti-oxidants in the body. Anti-oxidants are thought to protect body cells from damage caused by a chemical process called oxidation. Oxidation produces oxygen free radicals, natural chemicals that may suppress immune function.
Calendula flower is used to prevent muscle spasms, start menstrual periods, and reduce fever. It is also used for treating sore throat and mouth, menstrual cramps, cancer, and stomach and duodenal ulcers.
Calendula is applied to the skin to reduce pain and swelling (inflammation) and to treat poorly healing wounds and leg ulcers. It is also applied to the skin (used topically) for nosebleeds, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, inflammation of the rectum (proctitis), and inflammation of the lining of the eyelid (conjunctivitis).
Don’t confuse calendula with ornamental marigolds of the Tagets genus, which are commonly grown in vegetable gardens.
Calendula officinalis is a short-lived aromatic herbaceous perennial, growing to 80 cm (31 in) tall, with sparsely branched lax or erect stems. The leaves are oblong-lanceolate, 5–17 cm (2–7 in) long, hairy on both sides, and with margins entire or occasionally waved or weakly toothed. The inflorescences are yellow, comprising a thick capitulum or flowerhead 4–7 cm diameter surrounded by two rows of hairy bracts; in the wild plant they have a single ring of ray florets surrounding the central disc florets. The disc florets are tubular and hermaphrodite, and generally of a more intense orange-yellow colour than the female, tridentate, peripheral ray florets. The flowers may appear all year long where conditions are suitable. The fruit is a thorny curved achene.
The whole flowers can also be dried, and added to soups and stews in the winter as an immune tonic. This traditional folk use heralds from medieval Europe, where the flowers were also added to bread, syrups and conserves. Culpepper wrote, “The flowers, either green or dried, are much used in possets, broths, and drink, as a comforter of the heart and spirits, and to expel any malignant or pestilential quality which might annoy them.”
Another account, written in 1699, states “The yellow leaves of the flowers are dried and kept throughout Dutchland against winter to put into broths, physical potions and for divers other purposes, in such quantity that in some Grocers or Spice sellers are to be found barrels filled with them and retailed by the penny or less, insomuch that no broths are well made without dried Marigold.”
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Don’t take calendula by mouth if you are pregnant. It is LIKELY UNSAFE. There is a concern that it might cause a miscarriage. It’s best to avoid topical use as well until more is known.
Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Calendula may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking calendula.
Surgery: Calendula might cause too much drowsiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery. Stop taking calendula at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Medicinal Uses and Indications
Today, calendula is not usually taken by mouth. The exception is when it is used in extremely small amounts in homeopathic preparations. Calendula is usually applied topically, to the skin.
Burns, cuts, and bruises
Calendula tinctures, ointments, and washes are often applied to the skin to help burns, bruises, and cuts heal faster, and to fight the minor infections they cause. Calendula cream is also used to treat hemorrhoids. Animal studies show that calendula helps wounds heal faster, maybe by increasing blood flow to the wounded area and by helping the body make new tissue. There are no scientific studies looking at whether calendula works in humans, but using it on your skin is considered safe. Professional homeopaths often recommend using ointments with calendula to heal first-degree burns and sunburns.
Early evidence suggests that calendula may help prevent dermatitis, skin inflammation, in people with breast cancer who are undergoing radiation therapy, however, other studies show no effect. Calendula is also a safe and effective remedy for diaper rash.
Ear infection (otitis media)
Ear drops containing calendula are sometimes used to treat ear infections in children. A few scientific studies have found no side effects. More research is needed to determine whether calendula helps treat ear infections.
There are also certain antibacterial properties of calendula that have made it very popular in recent years. You will often find it on the ingredients list of various herbal health and hygiene products, including toothpastes, mouthwashes, soaps, and shampoos. In terms of oral health, toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain calendula are very effective in killing bacteria that cause everything from gingivitis to cavities.
Aside from stimulating healing, calendula oil can significantly boost the appearance of your skin. It can affect blood flow to the skin cells, provide antioxidant protection that reduces the appearance of wrinkles and ages spots, and even the visibility of scars. If you want smooth, even-toned skin that glows with youthful vitality, consider adding some organic products that contain calendula or consume calendula in another form, such as tea.
Research has shown that calendula contains certain antioxidant compounds that directly impact your vision. Beta-carotene is essential for the health and functioning of your eyes, and it is a wonderful source of this compound. You can prevent macular degeneration and the development of cataracts in this way.
Regardless of where you inflammation is occurring, calendula can significantly reduce the discomfort. If you are suffering from a cough or congestion, calendula tea can be a wonderful remedy. If your joints are hurting from arthritis or gout, add some calendula oil to a skin balm and enjoy a rapid reduction in pain. Finally, if your stomach is upset, calendula can help normalize your gastrointestinal system and eliminate any inflammation that may be causing discomfort.
Calendula oil has certain anti-tumor properties that make it very valuable in new cancer research exploring natural solutions to this global epidemic. Cancer remains one of the great mysteries of our species in terms of collective health, and compounds like those found in calendula offer an interesting new angle on this critical issue. It certainly can’t hurt to try!
There are also some anti-spasmodic properties of calendula that are also taken advantage of by many people. If you suffer from a nervous system disorder, have painful cramping in relation to menstruation, or some other type of spasmodic condition, adding calendula to your diet may be a wise choice.
Fresh or dried calendula petals are available in tinctures, liquid extracts, infusions, ointments, and creams.
Calendula products should always be protected from light and moisture, and should not be used after 3 years of storage.
The plant has been grown in European gardens since the 12th century, and its folkloric uses are almost as old. Tinctures and extracts of the florets were used topically to promote wound healing and to reduce inflammation; systemically, they have been used to reduce fever, control dysmenorrhea, and treat cancer. The plant is listed in the German Commission E Monographs for wound healing and anti-inflammatory actions.
The dried petals have been used like saffron as a seasoning and have been used to adulterate saffron. 3 The pungent odor of the marigold has been used as an effective pesticide. Marigolds are often interspersed among vegetable plants to repel insects.
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- Alnuqaydan AM, Lenehan CE, Hughes RR, Sanderson BJ. Extracts from Calendula officinalis offer in vitro protection agains H2O2 induced oxidative stress cell killing of human skin cells. Phytother Res. 2015;29(1):120-4.
- Barajas-Farias LM et al. A dual and opposite effect of Calendula officinalis flower extract: chemoprotector and promoter in rat hepatocarcinogenesis model. PLanta Med. 2006;72(3):217-21.
- Basch E, Bent S, Foppa I, et al. Marigold (Calendula officinalis):An evidence-based systematic review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. J Herb Pharmacother. 2006;6(3-4):135-59.
- Duran V, Matic M, Jovanovc M, et al. Results of the clinical examination of an ointment with marigold (Calendula officinalis) extract in the treatment of venous leg ulcers. Int J Tissue React. 2005;27(3):101-6.
- Fronza M, Heinzmann B, Hamburger M, Laufer S, Merfort I. Determination of the wound healing effect of Calendula extracts using the scratch assay with 3T3 fibroblasts. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Dec 10;126(3):463-7.
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- Panahi Y, Sharif MR, Sharif A, et al. A randomized comparative trial on the therapeutic efficacy of topical aloe vera and Calendula officinalis on diaper dermatitis in children. Scientific World Journal. 2012;2012:810234.
- Pommier P, Gomez F, Sunyach MP, D’Hombres A, Carrie C, Montbarbon X. Phase III randomized trial of Calendula officinalis compared with trolamine for the prevention of acute dermatitis during irradiation for breast cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2004 Apr 15;22(8):1447-53.
- Saini P, Al-Shibani N, Sun J, et al. Effects of Calendula officinalis on human gingival fibroblasts. Homeopathy. 2012;101(2):92-8.
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- Sharp L, Finnila K, Hohansson H, Abrahamsson M, Hatschek T, Bergenmar M. No differences between Calendula cream and aqueous cream in the prevention of acute radiation skin reactions–results from a randomised blinded trial. Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2013; 17(4):429-35.
- Ullman D. The Consumer’s Guide to Homeopathy. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam; 1995:254-255;334.