Celebrate Calendula Flowers

Calendula flowers have a sunny disposition in the garden. Use its golden petals in the kitchen and be sure to keep it well-stocked in the medicine cabinet for an array of medicinal uses, including soothing ointments and astringent tinctures.

| January/February 2008

Calendula bloom

Since antiquity, calendula flowers, or pot marigold, have been used in infusions for many maladies.

Photo By Susan Belsinger

This year we celebrate cheerful, colorful the calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis) as the Herb of the Year for 2008, as proclaimed by the International Herb Association. We honor this herbal plant for its sunny disposition in the garden, its golden petals in the kitchen and most of all for its medicinal virtue.

Calendula Recipes

In the Kitchen
Vegetable Broth with Calendula recipe

In the Apothecary
Calendula Oil recipe
Calendula Tincture recipe

A Long History of Calendula Uses

Since antiquity, calendula (also known as pot marigold) flowers have been used in infusions for many maladies. The Egyptians used the petals to heal wounds. In the Middle Ages, calendula was used for indigestion and healing bruises and burns. In World War I, the herb was used on the injured to prevent inflammation and infection. According to Annie Burnham Carter, author of In An Herb Garden (1947), “In England during that war, Miss Gertrude Jekyll gave a field on her estate for the exclusive cultivation of pot marigolds . . . the flowers which bloomed there were sent in great quantities to France to be used in dressings for the wounded.”

Historically, calendula was used as a restorative for the eyes; famed 17th-century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper claimed it strengthened the heart and spirit, and he used it as an expulsive to expel malignant and pestilential qualities. In 1606, Charles Stevens and John Liebault wrote in Maison Rustique, or The Countrey Farme, that marigolds were used as “a remedy for headache, toothache, jaundice, red eyes, and ague.” They also noted: “The yellow leaves (petals) of the flowers are dried and kept throughout Dutchland against winter to put into broths, physical potions and for divers other purposes, in such quantity that in some Grocers or spice sellers are to be found barrels filled with them and retailed by the penny or less, insomuch that no broths are well made without dried Marigold.”

Calendula Uses Today

Calendula is wonderfully soothing to the skin. Because it is anti-inflammatory, astringent and antimicrobial, it can be used to help heal wounds, cuts, scrapes, rashes, bee stings, burns and bruises. The plant contains large amounts of iodine and manganese, as well as carotene, and all of these attributes promote the regeneration of skin cells. Calendula is mild enough that it can be used in salves and ointments for diaper rash on babies, stretch marks on pregnant women, and in creams for nursing mothers. As always, there are individuals who are susceptible to an allergic reaction, so if you have allergies to ragweed or any daisy-like blooms, proceed with caution and consult your health practitioner before using the herb.

elderberry, echinacea, bee hive


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