13 October 2015
Calendula: Golden Drops of Sunshine
By Jessica Godino
Although we haven't had a frost yet, we have had several really cold nights. Many of the plants in the garden are turning yellow and dying back. But my Calendula patch looks happier than ever. In fact, the plants have put out a whole new set of blossoms since I last picked them just a few days ago. These Calendula plants will live well into the fall, surviving until the very deepest of frosts. And although I will miss them when they die, I know in spring babies from some of the flowers I wasn't quick enough to pick will sprout all over the garden, ensuring another years supply.
Calendula is native to Europe but because of its beauty and adaptability gardeners have spread it around the world. The flowers range in color from mild yellow to deep orange, and because of their intensity have been called "golden drops of sunshine."
Calendula has a wide range of wound healing uses, but where it shines brightest is as a "vulnerary," or wound healer. It is useful on all external skin problems and injuries, but especially ones that are red tender, and oozing. It will decrease swelling, clear infection, speed tissue regeneration, and prevent scarring. It can even heal old scar tissue! It will also help to heal burns, bruises, and sprains. I even use Calendula when I don’t have any injuries; it makes normal skin softer and healthier, and is delightful for massage!
As the season shifts from summer into chilly fall days, many people are susceptible to colds and flues. I think Calendula gives us an important hint by not only surviving, but also thriving through the shift in seasons. This is one of my favorite herbs for gently supporting the immune system, especially during transition times. Calendula raises immunity by stimulating lymphatic drainage. The lymph is an essential part of our immune system, filtering and eliminating waste products and bacteria as well as producing infection-fighting cells. Calendula is also mildly astringent, anti-microbial, and anti-viral. This herb clears out dampness, both internally and externally.
Calendula, used internally, can be used to treat swollen glands, low fevers, skin rashes, eczema, acne, cold sores, herpes, hepatitis, mastitis, colds, flues, yeast infections, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, ovarian cysts, jaundice, and much more.
Calendula is a very adaptable plant, and will offer up its healing abilities in almost any form you choose to use. My favorite preparation for external use is an oil or slave of the fresh flowers. Internally you can use Calendula flower tincture, tea, or event the juice pressed from the fresh plant. The dosage for the tincture is 25-75 drops, 1-4 times per day. The English used to add the dried flowers to soups throughout the winter months. You can also add the fresh petals to salads. This cheerful little flower deserves a place of honor in every medicine cabinet and in every garden.
Jessica Godino, L.Ac., brings us over two decades of experience as an herbalist. The owner of Four Flames Healing and senior instructor at The Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism, she co-founded Red Moon Herbs after apprenticing with Susun Weed. In her work as an acupuncturist and functional medicine practitioner, Jessica specializes in metabolic and endocrine issues.