calendula flowers

Photo courtesy of @catanne/Twenty20

This time of year the season blooms that hardy, bright flower that offers the promise of sunnier skies and longer days. Calendula (aka garden or pot marigold) may best be recognized as a filler flower in gas station bouquets or a staple of suburban plant pots and flowerbeds, but did you know that the yellow flower is a potent herb, revered for centuries for its healing properties?

Calendula has a great ability to work on the body overall, where there lies a state of imbalance, ranging from hormonal to digestive,” says New York-based acupuncturist and herbalist Walda Laurenceau (Opens in a new window). It has a such a great ability to clear out excess [in the body] while offering soothing benefits to the reproductive and immune systems, including skin and digestion.”

According to East Asian medicine, Calendula (Jin Zhan Ju) helps to regulate the flow of qi (energy) and tonify or replenish the blood, especially when looking to heal the skin and treat various health issues, from cramps to the symptoms of menopause. It has a direct effect on the energetic meridians of the spleen, liver, and heart, which are important in producing and regulating blood,” adds Laurenceau. It’s debated that calendula’s origins go back to southern Europe. Since it has such a sunny disposition, it helped protect the body against damp, winter and cold. It was often used in soups, stews, and herbal tisanes. In Egypt, calendula was used to beautify and care for the skin by rejuvenating [it].” Calendula’s lore also extends to spiritual gifts of protection and prosperity and used in wedding ceremonies. It was the Romans who claimed fame to naming the beautiful bright flower because it bloomed on the first day of the month (kalends in Latin), hence, calendula was revered as an herb of joy.” 

Indeed, the list of ailments calendula is touted to treat includes muscle spasms, irregular menstrual cycles, skin irritations (acne, eczema, burns, and bruises), varicose veins, and ulcers. It’s also known to be an excellent immune booster, candida treatment, and digestive tonic due to its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, and may help with insomnia. Basically, it’s up there with tea tree oil as a natural first aid kit essential.

Calendula’s Contraindications

While calendula is highly beneficial for menstruating and menopausal women, its use should be avoided during pregnancy and for moms who are breastfeeding,” advises Laurenceau. Also avoid if you have an allergic reaction to ragweed.

How to Use Calendula

This wonder herb can be used both topically and internally to reap its myriad benefits. Use it in balm, cream or oil form to soothe skin woes (a quick Google will divulge a bunch of easy DIY recipes). 

Laurenceau, who blends her own herbal teas, prescribes calendula tea to soothe an irritated stomach, whether patients have indigestion or an ulcer. Her simple recipe: Create an infusion by adding one tablespoon of dried organic calendula flowers to one cup of hot water. Brew for 10 to 20 minutes and then let cool. Strain, sweeten, and enjoy.

Articles from The Natural should not be considered medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please consult a medical professional.