Herb Profile: Calendula

P1000840

Beautiful, abundant Marigolds! Friend to gardeners & herbalists alike. I have been spending a lot of time with marigolds this summer, so it feels appropriate to add a profile about them:

Botanical Name: Calendula officinalis

Family: Asteraceae 

Common Names: Marigold, Pot Marigold, Golds, Ruddes, Oculus Christi, English Marigold, Marygold

Identification: small annuals growing to about 45cm high, with branching stems of simple, alternate leaves. They produce lots of large flowers in various shades of oranges and yellows, with silky looking petals.

Growing: Calendula is a hardy annual, which is very easy to grow in any soil. Sow in April, and once germinated they don’t require any other care than to thin them out if too close. One plant will produce many flowers and seeds, and can easily self-seed.

Parts Used: Mainly the flowers

 Medicinal Actions & Uses: Anti-inflammatory, anti-haemorrhagic, antiseptic, antifungal, emmenagogue, bitter, astringent, vulnerary

  • As a potent antibacterial & antifungal herb, despite being called the “sunshine herb”, acupuncturist Chris Hafner says that Marigolds are best suited to ‘places where the sun don’t shine’ i.e. armpits, glands under the breasts, the groin & vaginal infections, the soles of the feet etc.
  • It is a specific topical remedy for a large variety of skin complaints, such as wounds, weeping wounds, sores, bites, burns, infections, rashes.
  • It is thought to help damaged tissues regenerate 
  • Internally, it improves lymphatic drainage and so can be used for swollen glands and lymph nodes
  • Marigolds also have an emmenagogue quality, which means they can be used to bring on a delayed period. They have been known in Europe for centuries as a traditional remedy for painful periods

History and Folklore: An all-round useful plant, Marigold has been known to be a garden flower, a medicinal herb and a pot ingredient for centuries: In a 1578 herbal Dodoens-Lyte wrote,

It hath pleasant, bright and shining yellow flowers, the which do close at the setting down of the sunne, and do spread and open againe at the sunne rising”

The petals of Marigolds were grown in kitchen gardens to add the flowers to broth, said to comfort the heart and spirits.

Peasants in Europe used to drink soups with added Marigold flowers throughout the autumn and winter to protect against ‘wind and chill’, as an immune tonic.

Preparations & Dosages: 

Externally: use freely

Internally: dried herb infusion 3g to 12g per day, tincture – up to 100ml a week of 1:4 tincture

90% tincture is used for fungal infections, 25% for viral infections

Active Constituents: Saponins, alcohols, carotenoids, flavonoids including rutin, volatile oils

Contra-indications: none known

References:

Mrs Grieve’s Modern Herbal www.botanical.com

Wood, Matthew (2008) The Earthwise Herbal: A complete guide to old world medicinal plants, Berkley, California: North Atlantic Books

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *