What is Calendula?
Photo Credit: Oberon Carter
Recently gaining wider recognition for its medicinal properties, calendula, in the Asteraceae/Compostitae family, is a plant with golden-orange flower heads long used traditionally to heal skin. The flowers are dried and infused into a carrier such as olive oil or jojoba. This oil is then applied straight to irritated skin, or it's incorporated into an oil blend or skin salve.
Sometimes known as pot marigold or Scotch marigold, calendula shouldn't be confused with the small, ornamental garden marigolds of Tagetes species. Tagetes don't hold the same skin-healing properties as calendula and can be toxic if ingested.
Thought to be native to southern Europe, Calendula officinalis is cultivated in warm temperate regions around the world, and has been naturalized in many parts of North America and Asia. Calendula is a self-seeding annual, so although each plant lives just one growing season, it readily gives up its seeds to return to the same location year after year. Versatile growth preferences for sunshine and soil make it easy to grow calendula in almost any garden as both an attractive flower and a medicinal herb.
What does Calendula Do?
Peer-reviewed studies have consistently recognized the healing properties of calendula. Most notable is the anti-inflammatory action it has on "hot", red, irritated, and inflamed skin. This well-known herbal remedy holds antibacterial and antiseptic properties as well as the ability to stimulate the production of granulation tissue (the "filler" tissue in a wound). Calendula is also thought of as an analgesic, but more clinical tests are needed to conclusively determine its ability to ease pain. Calendula infused oil and skin care products featuring calendula can be used to soothe a variety of skin ailments.
Calendula effectively cools hot skin conditions such as minor burns from heat or sun. It helps calm skin irritated by things like insect bites, rashes, and dermatitis, and it can be used for localized fungal infections such as athlete's foot. Calendula can be used on bruises and boils, and it's becoming known for its ability to reduce the appearance of cold sores. It speeds the healing of cuts, scrapes, and other minor wounds, and may help prevent infections.
Also useful for eczema and extremely chapped skin, calendula is a gentle alternative for individuals with sensitive skin. Calendula's soothing and healing nature makes it an excellent choice to ease diaper rash, and it's generally considered safe and gentle enough to use on sore nipples while nursing.
Calendula is widely understood to be a safe and gentle healing herb. Though most claim it has no side effects, it's important to note that one study reports that 2% of test subjects had an adverse reaction to calendula. It's a small number, but worth mentioning. Caution should be used by individuals who are allergic to ragweed, goldenrod, or any other plant in the Asteraceae/Compositae family.
When using calendula topically, be sure to follow general guidelines for first aid, e.g. don't apply it to gaping or oozing wounds.
Calendula Fun Facts
Sometimes referred to as "poor man's saffron," calendula's golden-orange petals are edible, and the flower heads can be used as a fabric dye.
Calendula Oil Products
While many companies offer only one or two specialized products with calendula, Wunder Budder formulates every single lip balm and salve with calendula in the base, plus offers a proprietary calendula oil blend for you to use straight up or add to your own creations:
- Tags: herbs for skin
- Lisa Dolloff