Medicinal Herb Profile: Calendula

Updated: Oct 7, 2019

Latin Name: Calendula officinalis

Plant Family: Asteraceae

Parts Used: Flowers. Immerse cut stems in water to keep fresh longer, or pinch blossoms and lay on a cloth in a single layer to dry.

Safety: Safe for general use.

Properties: anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiviral, bitter tonic, demulcent, emollient, vulnerary, lymphatic

Uses: Calendula is an incredibly versatile edible and healing herb! It has long been respected as a medicinal herb for both internal and external use.

  • Culinary: Calendula flowers are edible and can be used any where you want a splash of bright orange or yellow. Add the petals to salads, healing soups and broths, baking projects, smoothies, or anything else. Flowers can also be boiled to make a bright orange coloring agent.

  • External: Author and herbalist Kami McBride writes, "When you think of calendula...think of wound healing and tissue regeneration throughout the entire body." Calendula flowers promote cell repair and growth and can be infused into oils or lotions or added to a bath. In addition to its skin repair capabilities, it is also antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, making it useful for soothing skin irritations; alleviating acne and cold sores; and healing cuts, bruises, rashes, burns, abrasions, sprains, psoriasis, eczema, hemorrhoids, and bug bites.

  • An herb for babies: Gentle enough for baby's skin, "it is one of the most popular herbs for treating cradle, diaper rash, and other skin irritations" (Rosemary Gladstar, "Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide).

  • Lymphatic System: Calendula encourages movement in the lymphatic system and promotes the removal of toxins from the body. The lymphatic system is an important part of the immune system which can be activated by through movement (exercise, stretching) and herbs such as calendula.

Calendula flowers drying on a screen on top of my washing machine.

How to Use:

  • Eat!

  • Dry the flowers and store to use in teas, baths, or to infuse into oils or lotions. Here is an easy recipe for making a calendula oil.

  • Make a tea with fresh or dried flowers. I love the idea of making a strong tea or infusion, and freezing it in ice cube trays to use as needed for both sipping or skin or topical applications. Of the tea, Rosemary Gladstar writes, "Although not entirely pleasant to drink, this is the best preparation for healing internal wounds and supporting the liver, immune system, and lymphatic circulation." Read Rosemary Gladstar's profile of calendula here. And, this website provides instruction for making tea as well as "14 Uses for Calendula Tea."

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