The ancients called Calendula the "herb of the sun". Many Christians (especially Catholics) associate the flower with the Virgin Mary (Mary Gold).
Most human studies of the plant have taken place in eastern European and involve only small numbers of participants. The studies indicate that extracts of the herb may be of use in treating duodenal ulcers and may help surgical wounds heal more rapidly.
Calendula as an Herb for Medicinal Uses
Calendula salve is approved in Germany and other European countries for topical use on slow-to-heal wounds and for ulcerations on the leg. A gargle or tea is also used to reduce inflammation of the mouth or sore throat.
The calendula flowers have been applied to cuts and wounds, burns and bruises, and used as a tea for gastric ulcers and other stomach ailments, for jaundice and other conditions.
As recently as 70 years ago, American physicians used calendula to treat amenorrhea, conjunctivitis, fevers, cuts, scrapes, bruises, and burns, as well as minor infections of the skin.
Calendula creams and washes are still used to disinfect minor wounds and to treat skin infections. The antibacterial and immunostimulant properties of the plant make it useful in treating slow-healing cuts and cuts in people who have compromised immune systems. The herb stimulates the production of collagen at wound sites and minimizes scarring. The herb will not reduce swelling, but it will reduce pain.
An infusion of the fresh flowers has been used in combination with lemon balm to treat shingles.
An old remedy for toothache is to combine the juice of the petals with vinegar and rub on the teeth and gums.
In the bath, 5 to 10 drops of calendula oil can be been added for relieving anxiety and depression.
Combine 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh or dried flowers with 1/2 cup water just to boiling; steep 5 to 10 minutes and strain. 1 cup taken 3 times daily. Used as a compress this will soothe tired eyes and as a wash for wounds the amount of flowers is doubled to make a stronger concoction.
1 cup of warm, boiled water, juice of 1 lemon and 1 to 2 tsp of Calendula extract; combine; every few days, or occasionally, used as a preventative cleanser.
Home Made Calendula Cream
You can make your own calendula cream quickly with the use of a moisturizing cream. In the top of a double boiler place 4 ounces of a good scent free moisturizing cream; melt cream slightly, then whip in 1 tablespoon of Calendula infusion. This can be done with other skin herbs as well. A simple complexion lotion can be made by taking 1 cup fresh flowers simmered in 2 cups of milk.
Culinary Uses of Calendula
The calendula was originally used as food rather than as an herb. It adds flavor and color to cereals, rice, and soups. The petals can be added to salads. Flower petals are used fresh or dried, although they have little to no taste when fresh, but become savory when cooked. In Europe they have long been used in soups and broths.
Dried and powdered petals can be used as a substitute for saffron and to color butter, custards, and liqueurs. Fresh flower petals are sprinkled on salads and dried petals are used in soups, baked goods and tea.
Calendula oils are made by placing 1 cup sweet almond oil (or olive oil) and 1 ounce calendula petals in a jar, then placing the mixture in a sunny spot for 4 weeks. Then, heat oil until the petals are crisp; strain and bottle.
Calendula Preserve: Place whole leaves and petals in a crock or wide mouth jar; cover well with granulated sugar; either place in sun or heat over low flame until a syrup forms.
An ancient love ritual involved combining dried calendula petals, dried marjoram, thyme, and wormwood. The herbs were ground into a powder, then simmered in honey and white wine. A young woman, having difficulty choosing between two suitors, would rub the mixture over her body, lie down for the night, then say:
"St Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me, In dreams let me my true love see."
Calendula also used for protection and to induce prophetic dreams.
Generally no side effects or contraindications have been reported with use of Calendula. Persons allergic to pollen of other members of the aster family, such as ragweed, may also be allergic to calendula. One case of a severe allergic reaction to the tea was reported in Russia.
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