Calendula species have been used traditionally as culinary and medicinal herbs. The petals are edible and can be used fresh in salads or dried and used to colour cheese or as a replacement for saffron. Romans and Greeks used the golden calendula in many rituals and ceremonies, sometimes wearing crowns or garlands made from the flowers. One of its nicknames is "Mary's Gold," referring to the flowers' use in early Catholic events in some countries. Calendula flowers are sacred flowers in India and have been used to decorate the statues of Hindu deities since early times.
Ancient cultures recognized and used the healing properties of calendula. In some of the earliest medical writings, calendula was recommended for treating ailments of the digestive tract. It was used to detoxify the liver and gall bladder. The flowers were applied to cuts and wounds to stop bleeding, prevent infection and speed healing. Calendula was also used for various women's ailments, and to treat a number of skin conditions.
The useful components of calendula include a volatile oil, carotenoids, flavonoids, mucilage, resin, polysachharides, aromatic plant acids as well as saponins, glycosides and sterols.
The extracts of calendula can be found in infused oil, alcohol tincture, water soluble tea, or distilled and used as essential oil or watery distillate (hydrosols).
These benefits can be reaped by using calendula as a tea to drink or to use as a skin wash. A poultice of calendula flower can be applied to a wound to help stop bleeding and promote healing. Calendula is probably best used for chapped and otherwise irritated skin. Calendula ointment has also been used to decrease dermatitis following skin irradiation for breast cancer.
The petals are antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and immune stimulating. These properties are useful for treating various types of dermatitis such as eczema.
Much of the healing properties of calendula are because of its high levels of carotenoids (vitamin A like compounds). Because these compounds are oil soluble, an infused oil is a good way to go. Calendula also contains oil soluble sterols that help plump the skin and keep it thick.
If you want to get an infused oil is easily made by filling a jar with dried calendula flowers and covering the flowers with a carrier oil of some type; almond oil, olive oil, etc. Let this oil set (infuse) for two weeks or more shaking it periodically to help extract the properties from the flowers. When ready to use, filter the oil through a cheesecloth. You can use this oil directly in a balm or as part of the oil portion of a cream or lotion. This infused oil can help with skin regeneration, diaper rash, sunburn, bed sores and various inflammatory conditions. Do make sure that your calendula is dry and that the oil completely covers the plant material to prevent mould growth.
Although rare, there are cases of people having allergy to calendula when used in skin care. Always be aware that a person can have an allergy or sensitivity to anything and usage should be stopped immediately if any reaction occurs.
Calendula species have been used in cooking for centuries. The flowers were a common ingredient in German soups and stews, which explains the nickname "pot marigold". The lovely golden petals were also used to add colour to butter and cheese. The flowers are traditional ingredients in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. And Calendula tea provides health benefits, as well as being delicious.
Wishing you a magical day xx