Materia medica: Calendula officinalis


Freshly picked calendula from the hillside

Family: Asteraceae

Common Names:

(Gardner & McGuffin, 2013)

  • Calendula

  • Marigold

  • Golden Marigold

  • Pot Marigold

Parts Used: Flowers in full bloom

Botanical ID:

(Bancroft, 2018)

  • Native to Southern Europe/Mediterranean

  • Annual, vigorously self- seeds

  • Oblong, alternate leaves

  • Striated branching stems that are green and succulent

  • Yellow to orange flowers with resinous quality (ranges with species). Flowers are generally large, terminal, and solitary upon each branching stem.

  • Characteristic sickle-shaped seed pods that are numerous.

Commercial Sourcing:

  • If buying bulk, look for vibrant colored full blossom heads. Do not waste your money on just calendula petals.

  • Has 1+ year shelf life if dried and stored out of direct sunlight.

  • Often seen in commercial skin products and tinctures

Cultivation + Harvesting:

(Carpenter & Carpenter, 2015)

  • Easily started from seed. Sow directly in garden soils a few weeks before the last frost. May also be in seeded indoors in trays 6-8 weeks before last frost. Harden off transplants well before planting out. Germinates in 7-14 days Note: Very warm soils may slow germination.

  • If transplanting, plant out in rich soils, spacing starts 6" apart. Prefers full sun.

  • Begin harvesting as blossoms begin to flower. In the Northeast this is generally early-mid July.

  • Continually harvest blossoms every 3-4 days to encourage vigorous growth. Plants should continue to bloom into early October or when first hard frost occurs. Yields will decrease towards tail end of growing season.

  • Dry blossoms face up in dark, well-ventilated space. Drying may take up to a week depending on resin content. Make sure blossoms are well-dried to prevent mold in storage. Take care to not over dry- petals will simply flake away.

Early summer in the calendula bed

Taste + Energetics:

(Bancroft, 2018)

  • Taste: Mildly bitter

  • Energy: Neutral→ warm

Actions (*Indicates primary action):

(Bancroft, 2018)

  • Slight astringent

  • Anti-inflammatory*

  • Antiseptic*- bacterial and fungal

  • Diaphoretic

  • Cholagogue

  • Lymphatic*

  • Vulnerary*

Specific Indications:

(Bancroft, 2018)

  • Infected and/or inflamed skin/wounds. Can be used externally and internally

  • Boggy lymph

Traditional Uses:

(Bancroft, 2018)

  • Wounds

  • Ulcers

  • Injuries

  • Surgical incisions

  • Inflamed skin→ burns, sunburns, radiation, eczema, rashes, diaper rash, chronic dermatitis

  • Skin infections, including skin fungus

  • Poorly healing wounds/ulcerations/bed sores/gangrene→ whenever poor circulation is a root cause

  • Boils, pimples, acne

  • Cysts/eruptions

  • Dysplasia

  • Gum inflammation

  • Tonsillitis

  • Inflamed mucus membranes, including inflamed tonsils, throat, mouth sores etc.

  • Gastric ulcers & inflammatory bowel conditions

  • Leaky gut

  • Pink eye

  • Infections: local and internal for any skin and mucus membrane infections

  • Swollen lymph nodes- acute or chronic

  • Lingering infections in lymph, such as mono and Epstein-Barr

  • Lymph swelling/edema

  • Vaginal infections, especially swollen inguinal (groin) lymph

  • Labial/vaginal inflammation

  • Genital infections

Phytochemistry:

(Bancroft, 2018)

  • Triterpenes: Arnidiol (anti-inflammatory); Lupeol (anti-inflammatory); Calendulosides A, B, C, G, H (antiulcerogenic); Oleanolic acid (antibacterial); Taraxasterol (anti-inflammatory)

  • Carotenoids: Lutein (antioxidant); Lycopene (antioxidant); Flavoxanthin (antioxidant); Aurosanthin (antioxidant)

  • Flavonoids: Rutin (antioxidant); Narcissin (antioxidant)

Safety:

(Gardner & McGuffin, 2013)

  • Safety Class: 1

  • Interaction Class: A

  • Avoid in allergies to asteraceae (daisy) family, may cause sensitization or contact dermatitis (recommended to apply a test patch).

Preparations & Dose:

(Bancroft, 2018)

  • Tea: 3-6 grams per day, add a heaping 1-2 tsp/cup water. Take 3 cups daily for tonic use, or 1 cup every hour for acute situations.

  • Tincture: 60-70% alcohol (1:2 fresh, 1:5 dried)

  • Infused oils (see below for recipe)

  • Topical Applications: Poultice, wash, salve, cream/lotion, baths


Calendula featured in our Harvest Hands Salve

Sample Formulas:

Solar Infused Calendula Oil (Hillside Botanicals, 2020):

Ingredients + Tools:

  • Fresh* or dried calendula blossoms

  • Oil of choice (Examples: Sunflower, jojoba, hemp seed, olive, apricot kernel, castor etc)

  • Clean jar with lid

  • Wax paper or cheesecloth

  • *Note: If using fresh calendula blossoms, allow them to wilt overnight in a dark room or in a paper bag. This is to reduce the amount of water in your infusion (remember, oil and water don't mix!). You can also let them wilt in a jar with a small amount (0.5-1 oz) of grain alcohol or vodka (80 proof) - this will help start the extraction process of the resinous constituents. Press and strain out excess alcohol before starting oil infusion.

Steps:

  • Sort through calendula to ensure there is no excess soil or wayward insects.

  • Add calendula to jar leaving a couple inches at the top. Note: If you're into exact ratios, generally you can use 1 oz herb to 8-10oz oil. Now, this may work with fresh calendula, however 1 oz of dried calendula takes up a lot more space and you will need to adjust your oil ratio.

  • Cover calendula with oil(s) of choice. Oil(s) should fully cover plant material (this is to avoid molding).

  • Cover jar with clean cheesecloth or wax paper and then seal.

  • Shake jar and place in a warm sunny window. Allow to macerate for 2-4 weeks (or as long as desired)!

  • After your oil has macerated, strain out plant material.

  • If you'd like to add natural preservatives to your oil, try adding vitamin E oil (suggested 500IUs per 8 oz oil) or a few drops of Rosemary C02.

  • To use: apply directly as a wonderful massage or facial oil, or use in your favorite salve or cream recipe.

*Note: The information shared here is meant for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Please consult your physician or a trained herbalist before working herbs, especially if you currently take medications. If you would like to share this information in your own publications, please credit our work accordingly.


Cited Works:

Bancroft, Betzy. 2018. "Calendula officinalis". Presented at Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism. Montpelier, VT.


Carpenter, J. & Carpenter, M. 2015. The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer. White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing.


Gardner, Z. & McGuffin, M. ed. 2013. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.



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