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Medicinal Herbs & Therapeutic Botanicals
Botanicals: Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula grows as a common garden plant throughout North America and Europe. The golden-orange or yellow flowers of calendula have been used as medicine for centuries. Calendula is an annual garden plant with an anular, branched, hairy stem 1 to 2 feet high.
The leaves are alternate, sessile, spatulate or oblanceolate, dentate with widely spaced teeth, and hairy. From June to October, the plant bears large, yellow or orange, terminal flower heads.
Botanicals: Calendula officinalis
Biological Name: Calendula officinalis
Other Names: Marigold, garden marigold, holigold, Mary bud, pot marigold, Calendula
Parts Used: flowers, leaves
The flavonoids, found in high amounts in calendula, account for much of its anti-inflammatory activity; triterpene saponins may also be important. Calendula also contains carotenoids. Investigations into anticancer and antiviral actions of calendula are continuing. At this time, there is insufficient evidence to recommend clinical use of calendula for cancer. There is evidence suggesting use of calendula for some viral infections. The constituents responsible for these actions are not entirely clear.
Traditional Uses in Herbal Medicine:
Calendula flowers were believed to be useful in reducing inflammation, wound healing, and as an antiseptic. Calendula was used to treat various skin diseases, ranging from skin ulcerations to eczema. Internally, the soothing effects of calendula have been used for stomach ulcers and inflammation. A sterile tea has also been applied in cases of conjunctivitis. Historically, calendula is found to be antispasmodic, aperient, cholagogue, diaphoretic, vulnerary. An infusion of the flowers can be used for such gastrointestinal problems as ulcers, stomach cramps, colitis, and diarrhea. It is also useful taken internally for fever, boils, abscesses, and to prevent recurrent vomiting. The fresh juice of the herb or flowers can substitute for the infusion. For external use, a good salve for wounds can be made from dried flowers or leaves, from the juice pressed out of the fresh flowers, or from the tincture. The salve or dilute tincture is good for bruises, sprains, pulled muscles, sores, and boils. The tincture is used internally for gastritis and for menstrual difficulties.
Calendula may be useful in the treatment of:
Applied locally as a tincture, oil, or lotion, marigold is considered a natural antiseptic by homeopaths. The crushed petals may be combined with olive oil to form an ointment for external application to cuts, bruises, sores and burns.
The infusion is used to soothe watery, irritated eyes, and for relief in bronchial complaints. It is also used frequently in the treatment of liver disorders. It is thought to induce perspiration in case of fever. Recent clinical studies have shown that marigold flower extracts lower blood pressure and have sedative effects. Marigold is a common adulterant to saffron.
In 1955, an Australian patent was issued for the use of marigold extracts in the treatment of burns in humans.
Other indications include:
Antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, healing, amd soothing.
Infusion of the petals used as lotion for skin cleansing and softening.
Taken internally for poor circulation, varicose veins, ulcers, colitis, stomach cramps; also, headaches, toothache, ague, and skin problems.
Said to strengthen and comfort the heart and aid in digestion.
For external use, an oil is made from the flowers for skin problems and sunburn; used in ointment form to heal acne and fade old scars and for external sores, cuts, bruises, burns and rashes.
Usually combined with chamomile and comfrey for a soothing ointment in cases of skin problems, burns, cuts, insect bites, stings and bruises.
An infusion from the leaves is used for tired swollen feet.
Flowers used in infusion form as a wash for red eye.
A tea of calendula can be made by pouring 200 ml of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of the flowers, which is steeped, covered for ten to fifteen minutes, strained, and then drunk. At least 3 cups of tea are generally drunk per day.
Tincture is similarly used three times a day, taking 1-2 ml each time. The tincture can be taken in water or tea.
Prepared ointments are often useful for skin problems, although wet dressings made by dipping cloth into the tea (after it has cooled) are also effective. Home treatment for eye conditions is not recommended, as absolute sterility must be maintained.
Juice: Take 1 tsp. At a time, always freshly pressed.
Tincture: To make, soak a handful of flowers in 0.5 quart rectified alcohol or whiskey for 5 to 6 weeks. A dose is 5 to 20 drops.
Salve: Boil 1 oz dried flowers or leaves, or 1tsp fresh juice, with 1 oz of lard.
Except for the very rare person who is allergic to calendula and therefore should not use it, there are no known side effects or interactions.
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