What is Calendula? Benefits & Uses
What is Calendula?
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a type of marigold and is an herbaceous plant of the small genus Calendula, in the Asteraceae family.
This herb was originally called calendula by the Romans in the 12th century, who realized the plant bloomed on the first day of each month. It was a symbol of happiness in gardens and was used regularly for cooking and medicine because it provided a continuous supply of flowers and tender leaves.
The flowers are used to adorn statues of deities and considered sacred in India, and used in religious ceremonies in Aztec and Mayan civilizations. They’re still used to celebrate the Day of the Dead in Mexico.
The Germans used it in soups and stews, as well as a saffron substitute in hearty large pot dishes, thus the nickname “pot marigold.”
Benefits of Calendula
1. Anti-Inflammatory Capabilities
Calendula contains flavonoids and linoleic acid which both have strong anti-inflammatory properties. These plant-based antioxidants protect cells from free radical damage and pro-inflammatory compounds like C-reactive protein and cytokines.
Its powerful anti-inflammatory properties make it a potent remedy for all kinds of inflammatory issues like diaper rash, dermatitis, ear infections, ulcers, sore throats and more. Ear drops containing calendula are sometimes recommended to treat ear infections in children as well.
2. Muscle Spasms
Calendula can help prevent and relax muscle spasms. Research has provided a scientific base for this herb’s traditional use in abdominal cramps, hemorrhoids, and constipation as well. When taken as a tea, it can also be helpful for internal duodenal and gastric ulcer symptoms.
3. Aids Menstruation
Drinking calendula tea may help induce the menstruation cycle and ease painful cramping. Calendula is full of flavonoids which helps relax muscles, increases blood flow, and reduces inflammation. Calendula can also be beneficial to alleviate hot flashes.
4. Antimicrobial & Antiviral Components
The acids held within the oils of this plant have powerful antimicrobial and antiviral effects, especially when fortified with sunflower oil. The oils and acids within the plant have shown to be effective in fighting pathogens, as well as candida symptoms and even antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria! This is a big reason why it’s commonly used in antiseptic topical products today.
5. Improves Oral Health
Calendula has become a popular additive in toothpastes and mouthwashes over the past years due to its powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Calendula helps reduce gum inflammation as well as fight against gingivitis, cavities, plaque and more. It’s also an astringent, which helps fight mouth bacteria and promote a healthy oral environment.
6. Discourages Cancer
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, calendula can help fight against cancer and irritation due to cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. Animal studies have shown that it not only fights carcinogenic activity within tumors, but it also activates the lymphocytes, which fight against foreign and infectious invaders.
According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, calendula appears more effective than typically recommended topical agents at reducing and preventing the incidence of dermatitis caused by radiation used for breast cancer treatment.
Calendula grows easily anywhere it’s planted, thriving even in pots. Plant seeds outside in full sunlight after the last frost or start them inside 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. Pick the flowers at the height of their bloom, in the heat of midday when all the dew has evaporated. Cutting the flowers stimulates the plant to produce more and will give you a big bushy plant and lots of flowers!
Calendula blooms every month so you can get a good supply of calendula from just one or two plants. The seeds are really easy to save too! One seed grows a huge plant, about 2 feet tall, and produces many flowers. They look a little bit like dried up worms, which makes them a fun seed to plant with the kids!
To preserve calendula, spread the freshly picked flowers out on paper or a tea towel to allow them to fully dry. Store the petals in an airtight container in a cool, dark location for future use!
How to Use Calendula
Calendula can be used as a food or fabric dye, to brighten summer salads (yes the petals are edible!), for spiritual and religious uses, and for medicinal and beauty products.
My favorite way to use calendula is to infuse it into oil and add it to my skincare routine. Check out my step by step guide to infusing your herbs and flowers here!
I frequently use calendula for:
- infused oil
- lotion bars
- healing salve
- tea (calendula is high in beta-carotene and flavonoids!)
- salad & salsa
- stretch marks
- diaper cream
- scrapes & bruises
- insect bites
- pain relief balms
My daughter helped make these oil rollers for handmade teacher appreciation and Mother's Day gifts and we used permanent marker on washi tape to label! For a long lasting label, paint a thin layer of mod podge over your washi tape.
To make one of my favorite daily perfume oil rollers, add essential oils and top with your infused calendula oil. Add a few petals to the roller to make it a little extra fancy!
5 drops bergamot
2 drops orange
2 drops tangerine
1 drop lemongrass
3 drops ylang ylang
1 drop jasmine
1 drop royal Hawaiian sandalwood
You shouldn’t use calendula if you’re allergic to plants in the asteraceae (daisy) family. Other plants in this family include ragweed, chamomile and echinacea.
Because of its promotion of menstruation, it’s advised for pregnant, breast-feeding and those seeking to get pregnant to discuss use with their healthcare practitioner.
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