The Benefits of Calendula

Particular flowers capture our attention due to their size, uniqueness, and pigment.  While the common marigold is recognizable at first sight, there is a similar flower, which looks like a daisy, yet it possesses an orange center and golden blooms, ranging on the yellow to red spectrum.  The common name is “pot marigold,” yet, calendula (pronounced Ka-len-jewel-la) has been a valued flower since Renaissance Times.  Today, the cheery edible flowers have a broader range of colors, including ivory, pink, and red shades.   They are a worthwhile addition to any garden for beautification, cosmetic, medicinal, or culinary purposes 

Shall we count the beneficial ways? 

An All-Natural Ingredient 

Plucking the blossom heads may sound horrifying to some gardeners.  Yet, please know, calendula is a fast-growing plant, rising quickly from seed and producing an astounding number of new blooms.  Undoubtedly, that’s the reason it’s one of the top herbs in orally consumed recipes, and included in more than 200 lotions, shampoos, salves, and other medicinal-based topical products.  Whether the flower is listed as an ingredient for teas, toothpaste, tinctures, or applied topically, its effects offer a powerful antioxidant and antiviral herb to promote healing. 

Calendula Tea 

Like calendula, Chamomile is another medicinal flower.  The solution for body pain, gut health, and relaxation, is a steeped cup of calendula or chamomile tea.  Whether purchased as bags or in bulk, calendula tea, in particular, is a specialty item that you won’t find in a grocery store.  Yet, the rewards, to name a few, such as boosting the immune system, easing fevers, disorders related to digestion, menstrual pain, promoting detoxification, and stimulating wound healing, are worthy of adding to your tea collection. In addition, it contains flavonoids and other antioxidants.  Drinking a cup of calendula tea can prevent the damage of free radicals to the skin, reducing wrinkles, age spots, and blemishes.  

To make your own: 

Take a bundle of freshly cut flowers, tie with a rubber band, and hang.  Remove the dried petals and store them in a sealable, glass container, or grind them into powder.  

A Solution for Wounds 

Children and adults get the occasional scrape, sore, and cut, which presents a possibility for infection.  Most of our injuries require a cleaning agent, a healing salve, and a band-aid.  If it is not touched, it takes time to see a scab recover; in fact, the timeline can last a month or longer.  One of the best ways to promote quick healing is to keep the skin hydrated.  Calendula oil, infused into a carrier oil, just as olive oil, sweet almond oil, or coconut oil, can result in a topical with anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and anti-bacterial properties.  Whether its application form is a roll-on bottle or dropper, a mere drop will advance the healing process.  Of course, you can apply the oil to soothe skin conditions as well, notably eczema, or to reduce red inflammations, like diaper rash and acne, among other possibilities.  Don’t worry about purchasing a small bottle; a little goes a long way! 

Calendula Oil Recipe 

Seeking to make your own homemade calendula-infused oil recipe? Then start now.  You’ll need about five minutes to prepare and four weeks until it’s ready to use.  Directions:  In a pint jar, add eight ounces of mashed calendula flowers, preferably organic; then, pour 16 ounces of a carrier oil. Shake.  After an hour, determine if the flowers are fully saturated.  Cap and place in a window with full-sun exposure.  Shake daily! After a month, check the infusion.  You should have a yellow oil that smells nutty. The last step is to strain, using a cheesecloth, and pour into a dark bottle, such as amber or blue.  Storing in a cool, dark location will result in longevity; start with one year.   Don’t forget to add a “use-by” date. 

Inflammation and Much More 

Calendula is a flowering magic, promoting cell repair and growth. The plant-based antioxidants are a potent remedy for all types of inflammations, especially skin conditions, like burns, dermatitis, chickenpox, cold sores, cuts, rashes, wounds, and much more.  

Making a Salve 

With only three ingredients—calendula-infused oil, beeswax, and a few drops of an essential oil—you can undoubtedly concoct your own topical.  There are plenty of recipes online.  Just remember, one cup of infused oil equals one ounce of beeswax.  Once melted on medium-low, add five to ten drops of essential oil, and pour into a small, sealable glass or tin container.  You’ll love applying the yellow silky sunflower salve on your wounds and watching them disappear! 

Of course, the benefits of calendula far exceed the few items mentioned; so, this spring, be ready to plant seeds in enriched soil, and wait for health to appear in bright blossoms! 

*Lisa is an N.C State Master Gardener volunteer and state-certified beekeeper.

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