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The Benefits of Calendula

By Kim Robson:

Recently we’ve been getting these lovely hand soaps from Earth Dance Botanical Body Care, and one of the many delightful scents to choose from is Lemon Calendula. I’d heard of calendula before but didn’t really know much about it. As it turns out, calendula is a powerful medicinal plant with many varied benefits. Everyone should have some growing in their yard or planter box.

Calendula officinalis is a gorgeous plant with mainly yellow and orange flowers, but the flowers come in many other colors. It’s also called “pot marigold,” as it grows well in containers. Don’t confuse them with real marigolds, though, which are in the same family but are toxic. You can easily grow the annuals from seeds, and calendula will reseed itself, coming back year after year. The seeds have a fun curved shape, making them look like little worms.

Calendula’s edible flowers have a slightly peppery flavor and, like nasturtium or violet, make a stunningly beautiful garnish for salads, desserts or drinks.

Use them fresh, or preserve calendula flowers by drying them. Hang them upside down in loose bunches in a cool, dry place with plenty of ventilation. You also can use a dehydrator or an herb drying screen.

Too much trouble? You can also buy bulk dried calendula flowers, either whole or petals only, from any number of online retailers. They also may be found at your local natural grocery store or herb shop.

What Does Calendula Do?

Calendula’s main benefit is in healing skin: it promotes cell repair and growth. It has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Just like aloe, calendula can be used for scratches, scrapes, minor burns, dry or cracked skin, chapped lips, rashes, sores, minor wounds, and insect bites.

How Do I Apply It?

Most often, calendula is made into a healing salve or cream. For the base, infuse the flowers in a neutral carrier oil, like almond oil. Let it soak for between several days to a couple of weeks in a cool, dark spot.

To your herbal infused calendula oil, add virgin coconut oil, Vitamin E oil, and/or shea butter or cocoa butter to make your own soothing DIY Calendula Lotion. Or add beeswax for a delightful homemade lip balm. You can also make a lovely calendula soap with the oil, as I mentioned earlier.

Another option is to make a calendula infusion in hot water, kind of like a strong tea, but for the body. Use as a warm poultice or compress for minor skin ailments, or as a soak in a bath or tub. You can even use it as a gargle for a sore throat. The Nerdy Farm Wife has come up with fourteen uses for calendula tea, including diaper rash, itchy scalp and athlete’s foot.

(Note: Calendula can stimulate menstruation, so it should not be used internally by pregnant women or animals without consulting a doctor first.)

Another use for calendula flowers? A natural yellow dye, safe for both food and fabrics.

Do you have calendula growing in your yard? There are so many benefits to this gorgeous flower. I’m going to grow some this year!

About Kim Robson

Kim Robson lives and works with her husband in the Cuyamaca Mountains an hour east of San Diego. She enjoys reading, writing, hiking, cooking, and animals. She has written a blog since 2006 at kimkiminy.wordpress.com. Her interests include the environment, dark skies, astronomy and physics, geology and rock collecting, living simply and cleanly, wilderness and wildlife conservation, and eating locally.

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