Calendula is best known for its beautiful flowers. Gardeners more often refer to it as marigold or pot marigold. While this natural beauty certainly adds a sunny yellow or orange burst of color to gardens and flowering baskets, it also offers much more for our health and wellbeing. It has been used medicinally since the twelfth century for wounds, insect bites, fungal conditions and many other skin conditions. Increasing amounts of research document the many medicinal properties of calendula:
BUG BITE RELIEVER
Calendula salves have a long history of use as a traditional reliever of itching and swelling linked to bug bites.
Calendula has also been traditionally recommended for relieving the pain and inflammation of bunions. Apply a calendula salve or tincture directly to the bunion two to three times daily for a week to determine whether it will work for you.
CANCER TREATMENT RELIEVER
In a study published in the Journal of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology of women who received radiotherapy for breast cancer, calendula ointment was more effective than the drug used for treating the painful skin conditions caused by the radiation treatment.
Calendula’s antibacterial and immune system-stimulating properties make it helpful in the treatment of gingivitis. This is a mild and common form of gum disease that manifests as irritation, swelling and inflammation of the gums. A study published in the Journal of the Indian Society of Periodontology assessed the traditional use of calendula mouthwash in the treatment of gingivitis. Over six months, one group of study participants used a mouthwash made from calendula tincture mixed with water, while the second group used a placebo mouthwash. The researchers found a significant reduction in dental plaque, gingivitis and gum bleeding in the group that used the calendula mouthwash.
In a study published in Phytotherapy Research, researchers found that a calendula extract worked on human skin cells as an antioxidant and boosted healing.
WOUND HEALER EXTRAORDINAIRE
Calendula has commonly been used in the form of a salve, ointment or tincture to promote wound healing. In another study published in Phytotherapy Research, researchers assessed the effectiveness of this traditional remedy in tincture form. They found that calendula increased the rate of wound healing by increasing the number of the body’s immune system cells that destroy harmful invaders like bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Make sure you choose Calendula officinalis as there are a variety of species known as marigold and they may not all be suitable for health purposes or offer the benefits indicated above.
Mix 30 drops (about one dropper full) of calendula tincture with 3 ounces of water to use as a mouthwash, 2 to 3 times daily.
Calendula ointment is available from most health food stores. Conduct a skin patch test on the inside of your wrist and wait 48 hours before applying elsewhere to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction. Apply the ointment on affected skin wounds twice daily or until some relief is felt.
When supplementing with calendula, follow package directions as there is a large variation in dosages and active ingredients between products.