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Calendula - Calendula officinalis
Common names: Calendula, Garden Marigold, Gold-bloom, Marigold, Marybud, Marygold.

What is it?

The parts used in herbal medicines are the flower heads including the sticky green calyx and the beautiful yellowish-orange flowers of Calendula officinalis, best harvested in the late afternoon and used both fresh and dried.

Calendula is a hardy, vibrant herb that blooms for many months in the year (hence where it gets its name from the Latin Calends; throughout the months)

The medicinal Calendula is not to be confused with its somewhat similar looking cousins from the Tagetes family but it is not often found blooming in the wild anyway but rather it is easy to grow at home for beauty, medicine and food; the old custom of adding its flowers to salads or the 'pot' gives it one of its common names 'pot-marigold'.

How has it been used?

Some herbalists consider Calendula to be the single most useful herb for healing damaged or broken Skin and there is no doubt that is a profoundly helpful healer both inside and out.

'Calendula is a remedy that should follow all surgical operations' (Thomas Bartram)

'Full strength Calendula tincture may be briskly rubbed on the legs or torso to help shrink and heal spider veins and Varicose veins' (Richo Cech)

John Heinermann writes; British folk medicine records the saying 'Where there is calendula, there is no need of a surgeon.' Calendula is not a miracle herb that can prevent modern surgeries. The saying was coined when the most common surgery was amputation, and the most common cause of amputation was infected Wounds.

Dr. William J. Clary, of Monroeville, Ohio, writes in King's Dispensatory, 1898; 'as a local remedy after surgical operations, it has no equal in the Materia Medica. Its forte is its influence on lacerated Wounds, without regard to the general health of the patient or the weather. If applied constantly, Gangrene will not follow, and, I might say, there will be but little, if any, danger of Tetanus. When applied to a Wound it is seldom that any suppuration follows, the Wound healing by replacement or first intention. It has been tested by several practitioners, and by one, is used after every surgical operation with the happiest effect.You need not fear to use it in Wounds, and I would not be without it for a hundred times its cost. It is to be made into a saturated tincture with whiskey diluted with one-third its quantity of water; lint is saturated with this, applied to the parts, and renewed as often as it becomes dry.

Hoffmann writes that 'when taken internally, Calendula has Anti-inflammatory actions in the Digestive tract, and thus may be used in the treatment of gastric and duodenal Ulcers... it demonstrates marked Antifungal activity and may be used both internally and externally to combat Fungal Infections. As an Emmenagogue, it has a reputation for helping with delayed menstruation and easing Painful periods. In general, it is considered a normaliser of the Menstrual process'

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (BHP) describes Calendula's actions as spasmolytic (relieves spasm), Anti-inflammatory, Vulnerary (Wound-healing), Styptic (helping to staunch the flow of blood), antiSeptic, Emmenagogue (helping bring on or ease the period) and diaphoretic (inducing therapeutic sweating when taken hot). Hoffmann adds that is is a Lymphatic (helping activate the Lymphatic system) an anti-fungal, an Astringent (tissue binding) and a Cholagogue (stimulating the flow of bile)

Calendula has been used to cleanse Wound and promote healing since ancient times. The flowers contain constituents that kill Bacteria, Viruses, and moulds, and others that are powerfully Anti-inflammatory. Still more constituents promote cell growth in Wounds and Ulcers. It has great value in either salve or dilute tincture form for any kind of external Skin, Muscle or Blood vessel problems--Wounds, Sores, Varicose veins, pulled Muscles, Boils, Bruises, Sprains, Athlete's foot, Burns, frostBites, etc.

Calendula's ability to aid healing to our external Skin is matched by its ability to help heal the internal 'Skin' of our gut lining, something that in the modern world, is just as likely, or even more likely, to be exposed to harm as our external bodies.

Science on Calendula

~ The active components of calendula's Anti-inflammatory activity are thought to be the triterpenoids, particularly faradiol monoester. Free ester faradiol is the most active and exhibits the same effects as an equimolar dose of indomethacin (Della, Loggia R., Tubaro, A., Sosa, S., Becker, H., Saar, S., and Isaac, O. The role of triterpenoids in the topical Anti-inflammatory activity of Calendula officinalis flowers. Planta Med 1994;60(6):516-520)

~ Calendula gel applied for two weeks to patients with Burns or scalds provided very good results - the Calendula was compared against a proteolytic gel and had a similar level of efficacy but was better tolerated (Baranov AP: Dtsch Apoth Ztg 139;61-66, 1999)

~ Calendula officinalis extract can aid in Wound healing by promoting epithelial growth and by enhancing Immune responses. For leg Ulcers, research showed outcome measures that included the total surface of Ulcers and the number of participants who experienced complete epithelialization. Compared to the placebo group, participants treated with Calendula showed a significant decrease in the total ulcer surface (14.5% vs. 41.7% decrease, respectively). Also, more participants treated with Calendula experienced complete epithelialization compared to the placebo group. The reviewers concluded that treatment with Calendula significantly accelerated the healing of venous leg Ulcers (Duran, V., Matic, M., Jovanovc, M., Mimica, N., Gajinov, Z., Poljacki, M., and Boza, P. 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):101-106)

~ In Germany the Commission E supports Calendula to treat oral and pharyngeal mucosa internally and topically. Externally, Calendula is recommended for poorly healing Wounds and leg Ulcers (Blumenthal M et al, editors: Commission E monographs, Austin, 1998)

~ The authors, titles and the 'where-and-when' published of nearly 100 further studies and articles on Calendula are listed in a PDF found here

Safety of Calendula

Calendula is an extremely safe herb which can be used by all ages including the very young and old, likewise it is perfectly safe for Pregnant or breast-feeding mothers, says I and a great many others...

Unfortunately, I now have to note that it has been cited by some authors as being unsafe for Pregnancy due to 'suspected Spermatocide, antiblastocyst, and abortifacient effects'. However, when I have scoured the medical literature to find any reason for this or any evidence whatsoever, I could find nothing.

So then how do such opinions come about? It is a mystery, but it appears inevitable that the more popular a herb is, the more myths and misconceptions it seems to accumulate.

We, people on planet Earth, have used Calendula for many centuries, in fact millennia, for all ages, including during Pregnancy, with no-one ever becoming concerned that it might be toxic. Let's not throw away something that has been so well-tested by time, and can be of so much help when a healing herb is needed. Until any kind of evidence is provided, I consider the accusation of Calendula as being unsafe for Pregnancy as unfounded and untrue, not guilty!

However, as a member of the Compositae family there is a small risk (less than 1%) of an allergic reaction from being in contact with the fresh plant. That said, reports of sensitisation to Calendula are extremely rare (Reider N, Komericki P, Hausen BM et al: Contact Dermatitis 45:269-272, 2001)

Pancreas: Calendula or Pot Marigold, has been used as a healing herb for centuries. Due to its anti-viral, Anti-inflammatory properties as well as anti-genotoxic compounds, it is highly effective in fighting Cancer. Studies have shown that calendula could probably stop Tumor cells from increasing between 70-100%. This indicates that calendula has important cytotoxic Tumor properties and can activate Lymphocyte commencement.