Calendula is one of the most well-known and versatile herbs in Western herbal medicine. The bright orange petals are an excellent remedy for inflamed and angry skin, their antiseptic and healing properties helping to prevent the spread of infection and speed up the rate of repair. Calendula is also a cleansing and detoxifying herb, and the infusion and tincture are used to treat chronic infections.
Habitat & Cultivation
Calendula, native to southern Europe, is cultivated in temperate regions around the world. Easily propagated from seed, it flourishes in almost all soils. The flowers are harvested as they open in early summer, and are dried in the shade.
C. arvense, a wild species, seems to have similar therapeutic properties to calendula.
- Bitter glycosides
- Volatile oil
- Relieves muscle spasms
- Prevents hemorrhaging
- Heals wounds
- Mildly estrogenic
Traditional & Current Uses
Therapeutic properties: Calendula is antiseptic. Some constituents are antifungal (particularly the resins), antibacterial, and antiviral, and have shown significant activity against Candida albicans. The herb also astringes the capillaries, an action that explains its effectiveness for cuts, wounds, varicose veins, and various inflammatory conditions.
Skin remedy: Calendula is above all a remedy for the skin, providing effective treatment for most minor skin problems. It is used for cuts, scrapes, and wounds; for red and inflamed skin, including minor burns and sunburn; for acne and many rashes; and for fungal conditions such as ringworm, athlete’s foot, and thrush. It is very helpful for diaper rash and cradle cap, and soothes nipples that are sore from breastfeeding.
Digestive disorders: Taken internally, calendula infusion or tincture helps inflammatory problems of the digestive system such as gastritis, peptic ulcers, regional ileitis, and colitis.
Detoxifying: Calendula has long been considered a detoxifying herb, and helps treat the toxicity that underlies many fevers and infections, and systemic skin disorders, such as eczema and acne. The herb is also considered cleansing for the liver and gallbladder and can be used to treat problems affecting these organs.
Gynecological uses: Calendula has a mild estrogenic action and is often used to help reduce pain during menstruation and to regulate menstrual bleeding. The infusion makes an effective douche for yeast infections.