Calendula Calendula officinalis
Also called simply ‘marigold’ (do not confuse with Tagetes erecta, the African marigold), Calendula is another member of the Aster family, the Compositae. Its name derives from an old Latin word, calendae, or the ‘calends’ of the month, being the day of the New Moon or the first day of the month. This flower is said to bloom on each New Moon – but I can tell you it blooms a lot more often than that! We harvest the flowers, under the midday Sun, as soon as they start showing – late July if self-seeded, earlier if transplants were started indoors. It keeps blooming into the frosty months.
Elemental associations: Fire
Phytochemistry: Saponins, flavonoids, essential oils, sterols, mucilage (D. Hoffmann)
Actions: Vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, emmenagogue, lymphatic
Specific systems: Skin, abdominal area (digestive and uterine)
This bright sunny plant exudes a sticky medicinal resin throughout, which is excellent for any type of skin irritation, cuts and burns, but especially useful in cases of eczema that is just a bit moist, or ‘weeping’. In fact, external application is probably the best-known use for this herb, and Calendula, being a tried-and-true remedy, is used as a base for a variety of healing cosmetics, salves, and ointments.
In addition, the flowers taken internally are quite warming and tonifying to the digestive system, and where St.John’s Wort brings the power of the Sun to the nervous system, Calendula brings the same power to the digestion, helping to stimulate sluggish function and gently cleanse the system. It can be eaten directly in soups and salads for this purpose; for soup, even the greens are quite good.
It is a helpful aid in cases of painful menstruation, and will help initiate a missed period when combined with other appropriate ingredients.
Finally, it is excellent in cases of enlarged lymph glands or lingering infection, as it stimulates detoxification and elimination through the lymphatic channels in a great, warming way.
Indications: Skin irritation and eczema, lymphatic congestion, sluggish digestion, painful menstruation
Preparation/Dosage: The tea is quite good, prepared from the dry flowers (whole, if possible); use 4 TBS per quart of water for a hot infusion. The flowers can be eaten whole, fresh and quartered, in salad or soup; the greens are quite edible also, but are better stewed or steamed a bit. An excellent tincture can be prepared in 50% alcohol, 1:3 to 1:5. Take ½ tsp. 1-3 times daily.