Herb of the Month – Calendula officinalis

🌿This month’s herb of the month is Calendula, or Calendula officinalis.

🌿 Botanical name and description:
Calendula officinalis – ‘Calendula’ (Asteraceae/Compostitae) A drought and frost resistant annual (or short live perennial) between 15-50 cm tall, Calendula is native to the Mediterranean and Europe, yet is dispersed worldwide.
Calendula’s flowers are bright orange/yellow and are gathered when fully opened. In some regions, Calendula flowers all year, however, the main seasons for flowering are late Spring or late Autumn; Calendula should not be mistaken for Tagetes Patula (French Marigold).
The whole plant can be utilized to create medicines with the entire flower heads or the individual florets being well-known as medicinal plant components, containing many of the plant’s active constituents.
The major constituents of Calendula include triterpenes, tripenoids, carotenoids, essential oils & flavonoid derivatives, phenolic acids, sterols, tannins, and saponins, plus minerals phosphorus, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese.

Calendula was renowned as magical, utilized by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans alike as medicine and as a culinary garnish.
Weddings, ceremonies, and religious rituals included Calendula; it was even placed under the bed to ward off evil spirits. In legal matters, carrying some Calendula in your pocket was thought to ensure positive outcomes.

🌿Traditional Use:
Traditionally, Calendula was touted as a most remarkable healing agent, applied locally, useful for open wounds and the parts that just won’t heal. Also, as a local application to promote granulation, to advance the healing of contused wounds, and to prevent mortification of lacerated wounds and ulcers.

Major actions include

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Antiviral
  • Antibacterial,
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antiseptic
  • Antiparasitic
  • Antifungal
  • Vulnerary
  • Spasmolytic
  • Emmenagogue
  • Immunomodulation
  • Hepatoprotective
  • mild diaphoretic
  • Circulatory stimulant
  • Sedative

🌿Modern Use:
Calendula preparations are acknowledged topical treatments of the integumentary system, treating skin ailments, especially inflammations and wounds.
Calendula also assists the immune system through its immune-modulating actions in healing the skin and indirectly affecting the nervous system, treating numerous conditions including wounds, cuts, bruises, acne, sunburn, boils, insect bites, nappy rash, eczema, inflamed skin caused by mastitis or haemorrhoids and fungal infections.
Other external uses of Calendula’s antibacterial and vulnerary actions include treatment of conjunctivitis using a wash.
Further, Calendula’s anti-inflammatory properties have an internal soothing effect on inflamed mucosal tissue lining the mouth, throat and GIT.
Note that in rare circumstances, sensitive individuals may suffer allergic reactions, in the form of dermatitis due to contact sensitisation, when using plants of the Asteraceae family including Calendula. Science & clinical trials: Numerous studies have been conducted on Calendula, spanning decades, including countless systematic reviews.
In a recent randomised double-blinded controlled clinical trial, the use of Calendula in the prevention and treatment of radio dermatitis was revealed. Other RCTs propose creams/ointments containing Calendula as effective in the treatment of vaginal candidiasis and caesarean wound healing.