Calendula, Calendula officinalis
petals, flower head
triterpenes, carotenoids, flavonoids, volatile oil, chlorogenic acid, sterol, mucilage, saponins, bitter glycosides, resin, mild estrogenic
Anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, lymphatic, astringent, emmenagogue, cholagogue, antiseptic, anti-fungal, wound healing, detoxifying
Possible allergen for those sensitive to the Asteraceae family. There is some concern with calendula use during pregnancy due to it’s effects on the uterus. Some professionals say to avoid internal and external use, while others feel avoiding internal use only is sufficient.
When most people think of calendula they normally think of it’s external healing qualities. While it is used most commonly as an infused oil in lotions and healing balms, calendula is an amazing herb that has many internal uses as well. Historically it was used as a yellow dye for hair or wool. It is also used for essential oils, homeopathy, and as a flower essence.
The anti-inflammatory qualities of calendula can be used in the digestive system for gastritis, inflammation of the esophagus, and ulcers. It has generalized detoxifying qualities and is used internally to clear infections and skin disorders. Calendula can be beneficial for relief of indigestion as well as stimulate bile flow for liver and gallbladder health. It’s lymphatic properties have been used to help clear swollen glands, as well as for breast and uterine cancer. It’s mild estrogenic and emmenagogue qualities makes it useful for regulating menses and menopausal symptoms.
Flower petals are edible but the center should be removed as it is bitter. It has been used to color foods and add a floral bitter flavor. Calendula was used to replace the expensive herb saffron in dishes and thus received the nickname “poor man’s saffron”.
A cream, oil infusion, balm, poultice, or compress can be used externally any place an anti-inflammatory or anti-fungal would be of assistance, such as wounds, dry skin, sun burns, eczema, sore nipples, hemorrhoids, ringworm, athlete’s foot, bites, rashes, varicose veins, and acne. It is useful as a mouthwash for thrush, ulcers, or gum disease. It has been used vaginally as a douche for yeast infections and as a swab on the cervix for abnormal cervical changes.
Usual Preparation and Dosage:
Infusion: 1-2 teaspoons of dried calendula flowers infused in 8 ounces of water for 10-15 minutes 3 times a day.
Tincture: 1-4 ml of 1:5 60% alcohol tincture 3 times a day.
BHP: 1-4 g dried herb, .3-1.2 ml tincture, or .5-1 ml extract 3 times a day.
Commission E: 1-2 g dried herb per cup of water or 2-4 ml tincture daily.
Growing and Harvesting:
Calendula is an annual plant that grows 1-3 feet tall. The flowers are golden orange or yellow with a single or double row of petals. Calendula is native to Asia, Europe, and Israel. Most of the plants we now have in America are hybrids. It is a plant that is easily grown from seed and produces a beautiful edible and medicinal flower. It is found wild throughout California, Oregon, Northeastern U.S., and parts of Canada. It flowers from spring to fall and likes to grow in fields.
Harvest the flowers in the late morning when the dew has dried or in the heat of the day. Break off flower tops with fingers. Remove petals or allow the entire flower to completely dry. Dry immediately so the plant does not mold. The entire flower can take up to 10 days to dry.
Using Calendula in Healing Recipes:
Jasmine shared a wonderful calendula lotion recipe that she used for her daughter’s eczema and for dry skin. This lotion was made with a base oil of calendula as well as other herbs. Calendula infused oil is simple to make.
Folk Method Calendula Infused Oil
Wilted or dried calendula flowers to fill a pint jar approx. 3/4 full
1 pint olive, apricot, sunflower, or other oil
Gather fresh calendula petals and allow to wilt for 12 hours to eliminate water content and prevent spoiling. You can also use dried calendula petals. Fill a clean, dry pint jar 3/4 full and cover with oil so that there is at least an inch of oil above the herb. Seal tightly. Place in a warm window-seal for 4-6 weeks shaking daily. Strain, bottle, label and store in a cool place. I store my infused oils in the refrigerator for longer shelf life.
Medical Herbalism: David Hoffman 2003
Herbalpedia, Maureen Rogers 2006
Herbmentor: Calendula, Marilene Richardson 2012