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Calendula

Medicinal

Calendula flower are powerful, healing and edible.  At one time, calendula was frequently used as an ingredient in winter stews and soups (and the plants have an extended blooming season making them more accessible). Calendula may be the most rewarding flower you grow. It starts blooming early in the season and is often still bravely blooming as the first snow falls, besides, it’s real pretty 🙂 . It heals the body by promoting cell repair, and acts as an antiseptic, keeping infections at bay. Calendula may be used externally in salves and ointments for bruises, burns, sores and rashes. It can also be used internally for fevers, and gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers, cramps, indigestion and diarrhea. This is a wonderful herb for babies because it is potent, yet soothing and gentle. It is one of the most popular herbs for treating diaper rash. Calendula tea is also a useful remedy for thrush, a yeast-overgrowth common in infants.

The tea or tincture placed in water can be swished and swallowed in order to help heal oral lesions, sore throat, or gastric ulcers. Calendula has a good history of external use in the treatment of varicose veins (there’s hope, ladies)!

Nutrition

Calendula has a high amount of flavonoids, plant-based antioxidants, which protect cells from being damaged by free radicals.

Gardening

Not only is Calendula a wonderful healing and medicinal herb, but it is also a lovely and useful plant in the garden! Calendula repels many common garden pests including aphids, eelworms, asparagus beetles, and tomato hornworms, and is a companion plant for potatoes, beans, and lettuce. Plus, it grows quickly and is easy to cultivate from seed. The fresh vibrant petals can be used to color butter, sauces, or sprinkled on top of salads and sandwiches (plus chickens love them!)

Uses and Preparations

  • Dried flower: Tincture, infused oil, tea or salve
  • Fresh flower: Tincture or tea
  • Fresh flowers are edible (great in salads)
  • Fresh flower can simply be masticated and packed on a wound
  • Freeze or dry for poultices

The best and least expensive option is to grow it yourself during the summer, but if that isn’t an option, you can find calendula here .

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History and Folklore

“In medieval Europe calendula was widely available and was known as “poor man’s saffron” as it was used to color and spice various foods, soup in particular. It was used not only to color foods, but also as a dye to color hair and to make butter look more yellow (it is interesting to note that calendula’s use as a food coloring in butter lead to it being used as a topical ointment for burns). Believed to be first cultivated by St. Hildegard of Bingen, an herbalist and nun practicing herbalism in the 11th century in present day Germany, calendula is a mainstay in a variety of European historical herbal texts.

Nicholas Culpepper, a 17th century botanist, herbalist and astrologist, mentioned using calendula juice mixed with vinegar as a rinse for the skin and scalp and that a tea of the flowers comforts the heart. Astrologically associated with the sun and the fire element, calendula was believed to imbue magical powers of protection and clairvoyance, and even to assist in legal matters. Flowers strung above doorposts were said to keep evil out and to protect one while sleeping if put under the bed. It was said that picking the flowers under the noonday sun will strengthen and comfort the heart.

Calendula was used in ancient times in India as well, and according to Ayurvedic healing principles is energetically cooling and has a bitter and pungent taste. It was employed as vulnerary, antispasmodic, alterative and used on minor wounds, as an eyewash, to soothe bee stings, and for digestive disturbances.

And, in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), calendula (called Jin Zhan Ju) is considered energetically neutral and drying and is used to support healthy skin. Calendula is employed to move stagnant blood therefore increasing circulation to the skin.

Traditionally, in Native American cultures, it has been employed to assuage ailments including occasional upset stomach. Traditional use mirrors many of our contemporary applications of this medicinal plant. Modern studies confirm its efficacy.  According to herbalist Paul Bergner, calendula is an herb used for minor wounds that helps by bringing circulation to the area in distress. It can be used similarly to Arnica, yet it is a much more mild plant that can be used on open wounds.” (Source).

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