Calendula – Sunshine Incarnate

An edible and medicinal flower


Published:

Calendula officinalis is one of the easiest-to-grow medicinal herbs and so versatile in its healing properties that it invariably finds its way into the hearts and gardens of all herb lovers. It is typically grown as an annual, but can be cultivated as a short-lived perennial in warmer climes (Zone 8-10). Calendula’s name derives from the Latin Calendae, referring to its long-blooming season – in certain locales it is said to bloom in nearly every month of the calendar. The species name, officinalis, refers to its historical use in apothecaries and pharmacopeias as the official medicinal species of the genus. Calendula is also called marigold and pot marigold; it is often confused with members of the genus Tagetes, which go by the same common name. Marigolds in the Tagetes genus are in the same family as Calendula – the Asteraceae (Sunflower family) – but they are not interchangeable with calendula.

The “flowers” of the Asteraceae, or Compositae family, are actually an aggregation of miniature flowers called florets. Look closely at the picture below, and you can see the individual flowers in the center, not yet open, still in their bud form. When you pick calendula, your fingers will be sticky from the resinous bracts, which form the green base of the flower head. The resin is an important part of calendula’s healing legacy, and is a good indicator of strength. If you are buying calendula, make sure it has a bright yellow or orange color, which is a good barometer of its freshness and medicinal quality.

Calendula officinalis is native to southern Europe, but is widely cultivated and naturalized throughout North America, Europe and North Africa. It has been used medicinally for centuries to heal wounds, burns and rashes, internally and externally. The flowers have also been used traditionally to support the immune system and lift the spirits.

Cultivation

Easy peasy, even for the brownest of thumb. Sow the bizarre-looking seeds directly in the ground in mid-spring; germination takes 10 to 14 days. Thin to 12 inches apart. Calendula will thrive in just about any soil, but like most plants, it prefers to have soil that is not overly dry or wet (non-draining). It will flower more profusely in full sun, but can tolerate a little shade. If you live in the subtropics or tropics, try planting it in part-shade, also try planting in the fall (it will thrive in the winter in many warm climates). Here in the southern Appalachians, I plant my calendula when I plant my salad and cooking greens. The greens grow quicker and fill in the bed, and by the time the calendula matures and begins to flower, the greens have been harvested, and calendula has more room to flourish.

There are countless varieties of calendula, with many shades of sunset: orange, yellow, and russet. There are multi-“petaled” varieties for extra garden bling (and edible “petals”), and varieties with increased resin, purported to be more medicinally active. The flowers need to be picked every two days in order to promote and prolong the flowering season. Dry on screens or airy baskets in a well-ventilated warm area. Schluffle the flowers often (my invented Yiddish-inspired term for gently tussling-about anything drying).

Edible Flowers

Soon after giving birth to my daughter I received a meal from an herbalist friend – a nourishing quiche crafted from homegrown veggies, speckled with the orange and yellow of calendula “petals”. Such a small touch made a large impression; I felt the warmth and sunshine of summer in every bite. The colorful “petals” of calendula are actually the ray florets (diminutive flowers, serving a similar function as petals). These ray florets are plucked from the more medicinal-tasting green flower base, and can be eaten raw or cooked. The florets may also be dried and rehydrated at a later date. My family enjoys them in salads, salsas, scrambled eggs, and frittatas; we also use them as a garnish on just about any dish.

Pictured below is a wild-greens saag paneer (garnished with calendula), scrambled eggs with nopalitos (fresh cactus pads) and calendula flowers, salad with edible flowers (daylily, calendula, and heartsease) and a cherry nopalitos salsa (recipe here).

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, physicall potions and for divers other purposes, in such quantity that in some Grocers or Spicesellers 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.”

Every winter I make a strong medicinal mineral-rich bone broth of calendula flowers, turkey tail, astragalus, seaweed, nettles, organic beef bones and shitake. I cook it in a big pot all day, concentrating the brew with evaporation by leaving the pot off. After straining and cooling, it is frozen into small portions, and subsequently added to soup, stew, marinara, and chili all throughout the winter months. This herbal broth is an excellent way to sneak in extra minerals into our diets, and also doubles as an immune tonic, helping to keep colds and flu at bay. My daughter has an exceptionally discerning palette (i.e. picky) and doesn’t notice the extra herbal additions to her meals.

Summer ideas for calendula flowers: Pictured below are ice cubes fashioned from calendula and wild bergamot flowers. The yellow flowers can be used to adorn iced teas, along with a sprig of mint for contrast. Click here for recipes on floral-adorned herbal ice cubes.

Materia Medica

Common Name: Calendula, Pot marigold, Marigold

Scientific name: Calendula officinalis

Family: Asteraceae

Part used: whole flowers

Preparation/Dosage:
1:2 95% 1-2 droppers full up to 4 times a day
1:5 70% 1-2 droppers full up to 4 times a day

Infusion: 1-2 grams in 8 ounces of water (about 1-3 Tablespoons dried flowers), up to three times a day

Topical preparations: poultice, compress, infused oil and salve. Dilute tincture with water (1 part tincture to 3 parts water) for topical use.

Actions:
Anti-inflammatory to skin and mucosa
Lymphagogue (moves lymph)
Vulnerary (promotes healing of damaged tissue)
Anti-fungal
Anti-bacterial
Emmenagogue (stimulates menstrual flow)
Cholagogue (stimulates bile)

Energetics: warming, drying

Indications/Usages

Gastro-intestinal anti-inflammatory: Calendula tea is commonly used to help heal peptic ulcers, esophageal irritation from GERD, and inflammatory bowel disease. Calendula helps heal inflammation from infection or irritation through its vulnerary, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial actions.

Lymphatic: Acute or chronically swollen lymph nodes: respiratory infection, localized infection, and tonsillitis. Also used for poor immunity, to help prevent infection through stimulating the lymphatic system.

Gums and mouth: Gargle for sore throat, aphthous ulcers (canker sores), periodontal disease, thrush, sore and bleeding gums.

Emmenagogue: Sluggish menses, amenorrhea.

Topical applications: Rashes, stings, wounds, burns, sunburns, abrasions, swellings, eczema, acne, surgical wounds, scrapes, chicken pox, cold sores, genital herpes sores, and as a douche for bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection and cervical dysplasia.

Personal Clinical Experience: Calendula is one of the primary herbs I recommend for GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), along with licorice, slippery elm and meadowsweet. I also find it helpful in healing peptic ulcers; it can be taken concurrently with antibiotic therapy, and then continued for two weeks after finishing treatment. Calendula is often combined with the aforementioned herbs to promote the healing of gastric and duodenal mucosa.

I think of calendula as a weaker, more tonic antifungal as compared to some of our more heroic herbal anti-fungals, such as bloodroot and black walnut.  It is often taken as a tonic tea for people who are prone to recurrent fungal skin infections, after a two-week regime of hard hitting internal and topical anti-fungal treatment.

Calendula is one of my favored personal wintertime teas, as I find it so uplifting, especially when I am feeling the long-dark-night-blahs. Interestingly, a strong cup of calendula tea has a flavor reminiscent of unsweetened cacao. Most modern herbalists don’t typically use it as one of their primary anti-depressant herb, but it is mentioned for that specific use in multiple historical texts. Calendula may be called upon for grief and sadness along with other cheering flowers: rose, mimosa and lavender. In addition, consider other helpful herbal companions, such as lemonbalm and lemon verbena.

I always keep calendula oil stocked in my fridge and will also combine it with plantain, chickweed, saint john’s wort, and violet in salve form. When my daughter had chicken pox I made a fresh poultice from calendula mixed with other herbs (recipe follows) and applied it daily. She had quite the outbreak and doesn’t even have one scar, thanks to this herbal poultice.

Chicken pox poultice recipe: Take a couple handfuls of fresh violet, plantain and yarrow leaves and add a handful of calendula flowers. Blend with a little warm water and calendula oil and then add slippery elm powder to desired consistency. In five minutes it will begin to soldifify as the powder absorbs water. It should be thick enough that it wont run, but soft enough that it is easily applied. If the fresh herbs are not in season, use the dried herbs softened with a bit of hot boiling water. The poultice may be refrigerated and used for three days.

Apply poultice to the pox, taking care to cover furniture with an old sheet first, as it’s quite messy. Allow the poultice to work it’s magic for a full hour, full-on distractions called for here.  To rinse the poultice off, add 3 cups oatmeal to a cotton bag and then run bath water over the bag.  Two drops of lavender essential oil can be added to the bath as well.  Use this nourishing water to bathe the child, employing the bag to gently clean the skin. Do not rinse off unless the skin is too oily, in which case you may need to use soap. You can also make a strong tea of the above herbs, strain, and add to the bath.

Regularly change clothes and use clean towels to prevent the occurrence of secondary infections.

Contra-indications/ Side effects: Pregnancy, potentially rare allergic reaction with individuals sensitive to the Asteraceae.

For calendula oil and lip balm recipes, check out the Mountain Rose blog.

Juliet Blankespoor started the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in 2007, after deciding to become a professional plant-human matchmaker. She lives with her partner Tom outside of Asheville, NC, in a wee handbuilt home where they nurture a medicinal herb garden and a delightfully hilarious daughter. Juliet has been sharing her passion for plants for over twenty-five years through teaching herbal medicine and botany. Despite a seemingly single-minded obsession for medicinal plants, she’s branched out in the last few years, exploring new territory and interests—namely photographing, videoing, and writing about: medicinal plants.

This article was republished from chestnutherbs.com.

See also:
10 Reasons You Should Start Foraging For Your Own Food
Urban Foraging: Weeds You Can Eat

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

August 18, 2018

Early morning apprehensions could be a response to the taut energies of the first quarter Moon in Scorpio. It isn’t easy being the center of attention while also craving solitude. By daybreak the Moon is approaching an engaging sextile with Mars…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

August 2018

A fantastic shopping and educational experience for the whole family! Vendors come from New England, across the US, and many foreign countries to exhibit minerals, fossils, gemstones, jewelry,...

Cost: $8 adults, under 13 free

Where:
Eastern States Exposition
1305 Memorial Ave.
West Springfield, MA  01089
View map »


Sponsor: LLD Productions, Inc.
Telephone: 505-867-0425
Contact Name: Regina Aumente
Website »

More information

Readings, healings, vendors, presentations.

Cost: Free

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn
85 Glastonbury Blvd.
South Glastonbury, CT  06066
View map »


Website »

More information

During the weekend of August 10-12, 2018 we will gather again at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts for the 44th Annual NOFA SC. This immersive annual gathering is an opportunity to come...

Cost: See website

Where:
Hampshire College
Amherst, MA


Sponsor: Northeast Organic Farming Association
Telephone: 774-262-7986
Contact Name: Marjorie Bailey
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

August 13 - 17, 9am - 1pm Instructor: Peyton Pugmire For student entering grades 6-8 iPhones are amazing, but you know what’s even more amazing? You! During this imaginative week...

Cost: $250

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Sponsor: Creative Spirit
Telephone: 781-797-0389
Website »

More information

August 13 - 16 Juan Li has been teaching Daoist energy practices for the last 27 years. He has created a sequence of practices based on the I Ching, adapted to the emotional and mental...

Cost: $950 single retreat; $1650 for both retreats (8/16)

Where:
Angels’ Rest Retreat
63 North County Road
Leyden, MA  01337
View map »


Sponsor: Tao Retreats
Telephone: 212-243-6771
Contact Name: Sharon Smith
Website »

More information

August 13 - 14 This fun and exciting healing workshop guarantees you valuable knowledge and powerful skills to keep you in a higher vibration of energy and flowing with infinite intelligence and...

Where:
Royal Plaza Best Western
Marlborough, MA


Sponsor: Geozuwa
Telephone: 646-606-9935
Website »

More information

August 13 - 21 With NLP training and master healer certification. This course is specifically designed for healers of every modality. For information call (646) 606-9935 or visit...

Where:
Marlboro, MA


Telephone: 646-606-9935
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

August 14 - 24 For millennia people have entered the wilderness to encounter Spirit and seek their direction, purpose, or medicine. If you are seeking guidance and renewal, or you’re...

Cost: $1295

Where:
Somerset Lake
P.O. Box 48
Putney, VT  05346
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Air and Stone
Telephone: 802-387-6624
Contact Name: Sparrow Hart
Website »

More information

What better way to end a busy day than with a little bliss. We'll support your body right where it is today and help you to open your spine to find more movement and flexibility. Begin and end...

Cost: $18

Where:
Body Love Wellness Center
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Sponsor: Bliss Through Yoga
Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Yoga is an ancient behavioral practice that allows for the development and enhancement of mind-body skills and behavioral factors including physical functioning, self-regulation of internal...

Cost: Free

Where:
CIC Cambridge
One Broadway
Charles Conference Room, 14th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02142
View map »


Sponsor: CIC Wellness
Telephone: 617-953-0674
Contact Name: Shakti Rowan
Website »

More information

Barbara Macias will present an information workshop on the benefits of essential oils. A demonstration of the oils will be included. Please RSVP at katboston@comcast.net

Cost: Free

Where:
NBA Business Center
145 Washington Street
Route 53
Norwell, MA  02061
View map »


Sponsor: Mind Balance Hypnosis
Telephone: 339-788-1193
Contact Name: Kathryn Caruso

More information

Relax and restore this summer with free outdoor yoga classes on historic Rogers Field! We’re packing the lawn with yogis of all levels for yoga led by experienced practitioners from Dragonfly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rogers Field
Devens, MA


Sponsor: Dragonfly Wellness Center
Telephone: 978-487-7181
Contact Name: Anne Ferguson
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

August 16 - 19 Magnetic-harmonic vibrational therapist, Jay Emmanuel, A.K., N.S.,V.M. shares powerful energy techniques that use the forces of sounds produced by the human voice in combination...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

August 16 - 19 Juan Li has been teaching Daoist energy practices for the last 27 years. He has created a sequence of practices based on the I Ching, adapted to the emotional and mental...

Cost: $950 single retreat; $1650 for both retreats (8/13)

Where:
Angels’ Rest Retreat
63 North County Road
Leyden, MA  01337
View map »


Sponsor: Tao Retreats
Telephone: 212-243-6771
Contact Name: Sharon Smith
Website »

More information

Daily practice for peace, healing, Christ mindedness, meditation, awakening.

Where:
Milton, MA


Telephone: 617-696-5685
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

With June Edward, “The Massachusette Medium” This is a mediumship gallery with June Edward, the “Massachusetts Medium!” Have you ever wanted to talk to someone on the...

Cost: $55 on Eventbrite, $60 at door

Where:
Plymouth Lodge AF & AM
116 S Meadow Rd
Plymouth, MA  02360
View map »


Sponsor: June Edward “The Massachusetts Medium”
Telephone: 508-259-1231
Contact Name: June Edward
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Guide: Peyton Pugmire Ages 16+ Like meditating with a paintbrush! Escape your stress and routine and re-connect with yourself, your heart and soul - one brushstroke at a time. This fun...

Cost: $85 (includes cost of all supplies)

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Telephone: 781-797-0389
Contact Name: Peyton Pugmire
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags