Power Plants: Calendula

via Bryce Wylde

Biohacks, Remedies

Power Plants

CALENDULA (Calendula officinalis)
This sunny yellow-orange flower—also called pot marigold or English marigold— is found in gardens all over the world. Calendula should not be confused with other marigolds of the Tagetes genus: these ornamental varieties have no medicinal value and won’t do anything for you but look good. Calendula belongs to the same family (Asteraceae) as daisies, chrysanthemums, and ragweed.
The plant’s name is related to Latin word calens, meaning the first day of the month. The flower has been known since Roman times, and was rumoured to bloom on the first of each month. Christians called it “marygold” or “marybud” because it bloomed at festivals celebrating the Virgin Mary.
Calendula officinalis is one of the most important plants in your medicinal garden. The dried petals make a miracle anti-inflammatory agent and wound healer. It can be used for leg ulcers and has been shown to help wounds heal faster and suppress minor infections.
It is speculated that calendula works by increasing blood flow to the affected area, which helps new tissue grow faster. In fact, it is such a powerful healing agent that you should avoid putting calendula cream on a deep wound, since it may induce the top skin layer to heal before the deeper layer has a chance to close, causing a pocket to form.
There is some evidence that calendula can reduce or prevent dermatitis and skin inflammation in breast cancer patients while they undergo radiation therapy. It is also effectively used for chronic nosebleeds, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and even in dilute solution for conjunctivitis (inflammation of whites of the eye).
One of the many important ingredients in calendula may be its high concentration of flavonoids, a class of antioxidants.* + Calendula is also a natural weapon against harmful bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
Difficulty: Easy
Hardiness: Annual
Time to Plant: Mid-spring after frost warnings
Time to Harvest: Summer (in bloom)
Location: Full sun
Soil Type: Well-drained, rich in organic matter
Pot marigolds are a tried-and-true annual flower that has been grown for centuries in both the herb and flower gardens. With bright yellow or orange blooms this plant is colourful as it is easy to grow! It’s so easy, in fact, that even beginners can grow it from seed. Calendula can be enjoyed as an ornamental and harvested as a cut flower, and its blooms can be used in salads or medicinally.
Common Varieties: Be sure you look for Calendula officinalis—other types of marigold do not have medicinal value. There are many varieties, but for best performance I recommend Calypso Orange.
Calendula can be grown from seed or purchased as transplant. Fast to germinate, the seeds can be sown directly in the garden in mid-spring after the risk of hard frost. For best results plant in full sun. Calendula will grow in almost any soil type, but it will be most vigorous in soils that are well drained and rich in organic matter. For small spaces, calendula does great in containers.
In addition to its medicinal properties, calendula flowers are edible and will brighten any salad!
Calendula enjoys warm days, cooler nights and adequate moisture. During the growing season it may lag during lengthy periods of hot weather, but it will rebound in late summer and fall when evening temperatures cool. Keep calendula free of weeds and water regularly, not allowing the plants to dry out.
The leaves may be vulnerable to white powdery mildew. Improve the air circulation by allowing adequate space, and if you spot any badly infected plants remove them immediately to prevent spread. Pick flowers early and often, removing any spent flowers, as this too will reduce the risk of powdery mildew.
Calendula is a repeat bloomer, so you can harvest often, picking the flowers in the morning. The flowers are so easy to remove that some commercial varieties of calendula are harvested with combs! For optimum plant health, remove both the flower and stem.
Use the flowers when they’re fresh. Although calendula flowers can be dried, this is difficult to do without artificial heat, as the flowers have many folds where moisture can hide and cause rotting.
Eye problems? Serve them tea!
If you have conjunctivitis or dry, irritated, red eyes you can make a simple calendula infusion eye bath to help. Don’t be scared off—this is just like making a tea! It is highly recommended that you invest in a glass eye bath (it is inexpensive and can be found at your local pharmacy). Note that absolute sterility must be maintained in this practice.
Put 2 tbsp of fresh whole flower tops in a cup. Boil 8 oz of water and pour over the herb. Cover with a saucer, allow to steep for 30 minutes, then strain using a coffee filter. Pour the calendula infusion into a sterile eye bath and use only when liquid is cool enough. If you intend to use the formula for both eyes, discard the infusion and sterilize the eye bath by boiling in fresh water for five minutes before repeating in opposite eye. Discard any remaining infusion: do not store.
Boo-boo or ouchie? Petal plasters to the rescue!
The painful wail of a hurt child is heartbreaking. Once you’ve hugged your child and assessed the scratch, scrape, or abrasion, it is time to offer a novel type of Band-Aid. Distraction is half of this successful treatment: the other half comes from the true healing power of calendula’s petals.
Pick 4 or 5 petals from your calendula flower and have your child help by applying them over the affected area, keeping them in place using a conventional Band-Aid. Change the petals every 3 to 4 hours. If any small pieces stick to the wound, don’t worry, they will easily come off in with a water rinse or with the scab.
Stinky feet? Soak them in a calendula foot bath!
Funky feet are usually signs a fungal infection (whether you see one or not). Calendula flowers have anti-fungal properties that make a good foot soak. Fungus is relentless and difficult to eradicate, so you will need to soak your feet daily for at least six weeks to make sure the infection is fully cleared and healed.
Start by making a calendula infusion. Put ¾ cup of calendula flowers in a jar that will hold about a litre of water. Fill the jar with boiling water and let it sit for about an hour. Strain it directly into the foot bath container. Add enough hot water to the infusion to make the foot bath deep enough. Soak feet for about 20 minutes.
Here’s a tip: line the bottom of your child’s gym, soccer, or hockey bag with a handful of dried calendula petals. Not only will they impart a mild and pleasant scent, they can help to ward off looming fungus that causes a stench.
Got a dash of a rash? Apply this!
This simple calendula ointment can be used topically to provide relief from eczema, psoriasis, healing abrasions, bedsores, cracked heels, chapped hands, superficial cuts and other surface wounds.
Pick about 20 fresh flowers and chop them in to pieces roughly 1 cm by 1 cm. Place about 50 g (10 tsp) of petroleum jelly in a glass or ceramic bowl over a pan of boiling water, and heat until it is liquid. Cover and simmer very gently for up to 3 hours (check occasionally to ensure there is enough water in the double boiler, and that the formula isn’t burning). After 3 hours, the petroleum jelly will have turned the yellow-orange colour of the flowers.
Pour the mixture through a sieve and collect the liquid in a sterilised, dark-coloured glass jar. (The dark glass will prevent the damaging effects of light.) Cover loosely with the lid and allow the cream to cool. Apply sparingly to affected areas two to three times a day.
The cream should be stored in a cool, dark place and should not be used after three months.
Fast forward to the health food store to purchase the St. Francis Calendula Vitamin E cream or equivalent. Follow the instructions on the label.
Avoid using calendula if you have an allergy to plants in the Asteraceae family, including ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies. Allergic reactions to calendula creams are rare and there are no any severe reactions worth noting in the scientific literature.
As with most herbs or supplements, it is not clear whether calendula is entirely safe for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so it is best to avoid it during those times.
Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 344
Yoshikawa, M., et al Medicinal flowers. III. Marigold. (1): hypoglycemic, gastric emptying inhibitory, and gastroprotective principles and new oleanane-type triterpene oligoglycosides, calendasaponins A, B, C, and D, from Egyptian Calendula officinalis. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2001;49(7):863-870.
Amirghofran, Z., Azadbakht, M., and Karimi, M. H. Evaluation of the immunomodulatory effects of five herbal plants. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;72(1-2):167-172
Basch, E., Bent, S., Foppa, I., Haskmi, S., Kroll, D., Mele, M., Szapary, P., Ulbricht, C., Vora, M., and Yong, S. Marigold (Calendula officinalis L.): an evidence-based systematic review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. J Herb Pharmacother 2006;6(3-4):135-159.
Bogdanova NS, Nikolaeva IS, Shcherbakova LI, et al. Study of antiviral properties of Calendula officinalis. Farmskolto Ksikol 1970;33:349–55 [in Russian].

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