Category: Medicines - plant based
Introduction and description
Calendula is a genus of about 15–20 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants in the daisy family Asteraceae. They are native to southwestern Asia, western Europe, Macaronesia, and the Mediterranean.
They are rather confusingly called Marigold, a name they share with the species Tagetes, but to avoid confusion I have kept to their botanical name, which is a modern Latin diminutive of calendae, meaning "little calendar" or "little clock". The Species includes:
- Calendula arvensis – field marigold, wild marigold
- Calendula denticulate
- Calendula eckerleinii
- Calendula incana
- Calendula lanzae Maire
- Calendula maritima - sea marigold
- Calendula maroccana
- Calendula meuselii
- Calendula officinalis – pot marigold, garden marigold, ruddles, Scottish marigold
- Calendula palaestina
- Calendula stellata
- Calendula suffruticosa
- Calendula tripterocarpa
The properties of each member of the species are not the same, thus you do need to know your plants. The most commonly cultivated and used member of the genus is Calendula officinalis. Many herbal and cosmetic products which name the ingredient as 'calendula' invariably derive from C. officinalis.
Calendula species can be used in medicine and in cooking.
“The flowers of C. officinalis contain flavonol glycosides, triterpene oligoglycosides, oleanane-type triterpene glycosides, saponins, and a sesquiterpene glucoside.”
C. officinalis extracts are used as an anti-inflammatory, an antitumor agent, and a remedy for healing wounds in a number of medical systems. Calendula in suspension or in tincture is used topically for treating acne, reducing inflammation, controlling bleeding, and soothing irritated tissue. “Limited evidence indicates Calendula cream or ointment is effective in treating radiation dermatitis.”
In some of the earliest medical writings, calendula was recommended for treating ailments of the digestive tract. It was used to ‘detoxify the liver and gall bladder’. The flowers were applied to cuts and wounds to stop bleeding, prevent infection and speed healing. Calendula was also used for various women's ailments, and to treat a number of skin conditions. During the American Civil War, calendula flowers were used on the battlefields in open wounds as antihemorrhagic and antiseptic, and they were used in dressing wounds to promote healing. Calendula was also used in this way during World War I.
BUT Calendula plants are known to cause allergic reactions, in some people, so care has to be exercised.
If you would like to use calendula as a food, it is worth knowing that Calendula species have been used in cooking for centuries. The flowers were a common ingredient in German soups and stews, which explains the nickname "pot marigold". The dried petals were also used to add colour to butter and cheese or as a replacement for saffron. The flowers are traditional ingredients in both Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, as well as in Calendula tea. The petals are edible raw and can be used fresh in salads.
How it workssee the observations
References and further reading
This site provides a great deal more useful information on Calendula and has some wonderful pictures of the plant.
- Calendula - anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anti-tumour activity 010862
- Calendula - liver and kidney disease 010864
- Calendula - skin diseases and ADRs 010865
- Calendula - wound healing and antibacterial action 010863
- Calendula and Rosemary - dermatological protective effects 010866
- Complementary strategies for the management of radiation therapy side effects 020861
- Dr Duke's list of Plants Containing QUERCETIN 021446
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing SALICYLIC ACID 020467
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (bladder) activity 018452
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (breast) activity 018453
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (cervix) activity 018454
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (prostate) activity 018465
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with AntiEBV activity 018295
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiedemic activity 018443
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Copper chelator activity 018387
- Dr Duke's list of plants with hemopoietic effects - 1 High activity 012484
- Dr Duke's list of plants with hemopoietic effects - 2 All plants with activity 012485
- Mrs Grieve on Calendula 010861
- Plants used to treat skin diseases 027515