English herbalists called calendula herb-of-the-sun because the flowers close at sunset and open again at sunrise.
Known as pot marigold in old herbals, calendula is still widely used, much loved, and quite indispensable around the home. A twelfth century herbal suggests that simply looking at bright yellow and orange calendula blossoms will “clear the head, improve the eyesight, and encourage cheerfulness.”
A most wonderful herb for the skin, calendula blossoms are soothing to itches, irritations, wounds or burns, including sunburn. Spotty or greasy skin, pimples, impetigo, eczema, herpes sores, and fever blisters respond well to frequent applications of calendula oil or the dried flower infusion used as a wash.
Astringent, antiseptic, and antibacterial, calendula’s gentle healing action easily extracts in oil, making it just the thing to soothe diaper rash and children’s scrapes and cuts. Nursing mothers with sore or cracked nipples find great relief from frequent application of calendula ointment.
Calendula oil does wonders for the complexion and is commonly used as a moisturizer. It makes an excellent primary ingredient in any healing salve, hand cream, facial, or aftershave lotion, and bath or massage oil. Calendula oil helps stimulate circulation. To relieve varicose veins and phlebitis, I use the oil generously, or make a compress with the infusion or fresh calendula flowers.
The fungicidal properties of calendula blossoms deal successfully with athlete’s foot, jock itch, and other fungal infections. I grind dried calendula flowers into a powder, mix with clay, and dust over infected areas to keep them dry and help them heal. When dealing with vaginal yeast over-growth, wise women apply infused oil of calendula directly to the labia and also dust the surrounding area with calendula/clay powder. An infusion made of dried calendula blossoms is helpful as a mouthwash to relieve thrush. The infusion can also be used as a wash or compress for healing conjunctivitis (pink eye).
Maria Treben, a European herbalist and one of my favorites, uses calendula infusion for treating stomach ailments, ulcers, and inflammation of the intestines, as well as viral infections. She recommends drinking a cup of dried calendula flower infusion, or taking 20 drops of tincture, to help stimulate the flow of vile, ease digestive woes, and tone the liver. This is also a valuable remedy for those with gastritis, gastric or duodenal ulcers.
Will warts disappear with repeated application of calendula infused oil or the sap from the stem? My son Johnny had a cluster of warts on the side of his foot. We faithfully applied calendula oil to the warts and the surrounding area. Within a month the entire cluster disappeared. Nothing was left but beautiful pink skin!
Among calendula’s constituents are saponins, flavonoids, mucilage, essential oil, resin, steroidal compounds, caotenoids, and a bitter principle.
When I’m nervous, anxious, or depressed, I add 5-10 drops of essential oil of calendula to my bath. Ahhh!
I take calendula flower essence to encourage emotional warmth, compassion, healing, and receptivity in verbal communications. I also use it to cultivate the ability to truly listen to the inner meaning of the words of others and to bring greater consciousness into the healing power of my own words.
Calendula prefers rich garden soil and appreciates the addition of some compost. We gather the beautiful crescent-shaped seeds in fall for next year’s crop, but calendula is fond of reseeding itself, so you may have enough volunteers to make replanting unnecessary. Calendula starts easily from seed and can be planted as soon as the ground is workable in spring, alongside the peas and spinach. The quickly germinating seeds create beautiful beds of light, bright green leaves. Growing to a height of two feet, calendula plants branch out readily if given plenty of room and are soon covered with masses of briliant yellow and orange blossoms.
Calendulas will flower all summer long, continuing well into fall, if you keep gathering the blossoms. Picking calendula blossoms is such fun that all my kids want to do this job. I have fond memories of being in the garden during summer with my children, all of us picking flowers and filling our baskets, our hands sticky with the resinous healing energy of calendula, and our hearts glad, just like the old herbal said!
Calendula’s freshly picked, multi-petaled blossoms are delicious added to salads. Tincture the fresh blossoms in alcohol or vinegar or infuse them in oil or honey, Dry the whole blossoms on screens and place them carefully so they aren't touching each other. There is no need to pull the petals off.