Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Calendula, or Pot Marigold, is probably one of the most useful medicinal herbs. It comes from the daisy, or Asteraceae family. The name Calendula comes from the Latin kalendae, meaning "first day of the month", presumably because the calendula flowers are present during the first days of it's blooming calender months, normally from May to November. Other folk names include "Bride of the Sun", "Marybud", and "Summer's Bride". Although a native to the Mediterranean, the bright and cheerful calendula is now cultivated throughout the world for its beauty, garden virtues, and valuable medicinal qualities. Calendula officinalis is edible and was in fact first cultivated for food use. It adds color and flavor to soups, stews, cereals and rice dishes and the petals are pleasant on salads.

Medicinal preparations are usually made from the fresh wilted or dried flower petals or the entire flower head and may include Tea, Wound Dressings, Mouth/Throat Gargle, Tinctures, Compresses, Washes, Infused Oils, Essential Oils, and Ointments, Creams and Salves.

WARNING ~ Calendula preparations should not be used over an existing infection as it may stimulate tissue growth and heal over the infected site.

Externally, calendula's strong antibiotic action and immunostimulant properties painlessly promote healing of minor wounds by reducing inflammation and pus formation. Calendula is also a strong Antifungal, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antioxidant, Antiseptic, and Astringent, among others. The flowers have reportedly shown slight anti-tumor activity. Its medicinal uses are legendary and includes but are not limited to:

Externally: Abscesses, Boils, Bruises, Burns/Scalds, Cold Sores, Cuts, Diaper Rash, Hemorrhoids, Inflamed Eyes, Scar Tissue, Sores, Sprains, Stings, Sties, Varicose Veins, Warts, Wounds.

Internally: (Do not use calendula internally without professional medical supervision): Bronchial Troubles, Crohn’s Disease, Diarrhea, Endometriosis, Fevers, Fibroids, Gastritis, Indigestion, Liver Congestion, Menstrual Irregularity, Mouth Ulcers, Nausea, Pelvic Inflammation, Stomach Cramps, Ulcers (gastric/duodenal).

In The Garden

Calendula is an easy to grow, somewhat hardy annual that prefers full sun in rich, well-drained soil but will tolerate most average or slightly poor soils in zones 3-10. Most will bloom reliably all summer.

Calendula is deer resistant but attractive to bees, butterflies and some birds.

Transplant with plenty of organic compost and add a general purpose organic fertilizer once a month. Mulch for moisture retention and weed control.

Sow seeds in the spring but once established calendula will generally self-sow.
Seeds need dark to germinate so take care to cover.

Grows up to 2 feet in height. Water once or twice weekly during dry spells. Once your plants bloom, deadhead or snip dead blooms off to keep them attractive and encourage new blooms.

Calendula is light frost tolerant but will not survive heavy frosts or freezes.

Folklore Uses

-Pick Marigolds at noon when the sun is high and hot to strengthen and comfort the heart.

-Marigold garlands strewn under your bed will protect you while you sleep and make your dreams come true.

Make Your Own Calendula Infused Oil for a soothing skin treatment.

1/4 c. dried Calendula flowers
1/2 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Put flowers into a pint-sized canning jar. Add the olive oil and stir well. Cover the jar with a lid and place it in a sunny window. When the oil turns deep, golden yellow (1-2 weeks), strain the oil through several layers of cheesecloth into a container to remove all the flowers. Place into a container with a tight fitting lid. Store in a cool, dark place. Will stay fresh for approximately one year.

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