Calendula: The herb that does it all

Even though I’m in nutrition school and not herbal school, I still love learning about different herbs and their medicinal qualities. I’m not opposed to taking some over-the-counter meds for the little things that come up like headaches, constipation or skin rashes, but if I can treat it with herbs (or nutrition) successfully, it’s my preferred method. However, my home remedy knowledge is limited… I use things like peppermint tea and ginger root to ease an upset stomach; I put raw honey on cuts or bug bites; and I’ve experimented with a few herbs such as Oregon grape root, barberry root, fenugreek, and nettles. Oh, and for those that have an iPhone, there’s an app for herbs. I use it occasionally but I’d have to say I’ve been underwhelmed with the information the app provides so far.

Calendula is one herb I learned about recently that seems worth pursuing. As my teacher said, “it’s a great herb to just have around.” Calendula comes from the daisy family of plants. They bloom into brightly-colored flowers, and are edible so they are often used in salads or other recipes.

External Uses

One common use of the herb calendula is for healthy skin care. Topically, it can be applied to soothe eczema, yeast infections, herpes, gingivitis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, varicose veins, and other cuts, burns or wounds. It contains many important phytochemicals, which are known to accelerate skin cell repair. It is also effective in treating dry skin in very specific areas, such as hands or feet.

Carotenoids are a specific phytochemical found in calendula that make it so powerful for healthy skin cell production, whether that be in the case of someone who has to heal a wound or scar, or someone who just wants healthy aging of their skin. The essential oils and salicylic acid that are naturally found in calendula make it a great herb for someone treating acne or other skin infections.

Internal Uses

A tincture or tea of calendula can be very helpful for digestion problems, irritable bowel, yeast overgrowth, and inflammation. It promotes healthy digestion and stimulates bile production, which aids in fat digestion. The herb stimulates the gall bladder, liver and uterus, and also supports heart health. Calendula also helps with swollen glands and other types of inflammation found internally. The flavonoids that are so abundant in calendula are what help to reduce and treat inflammation.

Calendula has also been successfully used to treat abdominal cramping and constipation. Since it has the power to aid in digestion and promote healthy bacteria in the intestines, it makes sense that cramping and bloating would subside and regular bowel movements would be more easily obtained with the use of calendula.

Calendula for Babies

When babies get diaper rash, calendula can be a perfect herb to use. It is very safe and gentle, and will reduce the discomfort and heal the rash. Calendula cream is also good for babies with eczema and other skin sensitivities or rashes. Many companies make organic calendula creams, shampoos, and other products specifically designed for babies’ sensitive skin. I don't have kids so have never used calendula cream for babies, but if any of the mothers out there have, please share your experiences in the comments section!

How Do I Get It?

Calendula can be taken in many different forms – pills, powders, tinctures, oils, extracts, seeds and teas. You may find it at your local health food store or a specialty botanicals store. For those of you in Colorado, I recommend MoonDance Botanicals or Apothecary Tinctura. Mountain Rose Herbs is a great online source that I use, but there are many online stores that sell high quality herbs. Just do some research and make sure the herbs are organic and come from a reputable company.

So, like my teacher said, this is a great herb to keep around for just about anything that can come up! I love the idea of having one herb that can treat so many different issues, because it simplifies things and the herb can do many beneficial things at once. Plus, there are fewer negative side affects of using herbs than there are of other medications, so they are always a good thing to try.

1 comment:

  1. When my daughter was about 2 months old she scratched her face with a finger nail. The scratch wasn't terribly deep, but quickly got bright red and a bit pussy. I'm careful about everything I eat and put on her skin, and I don't like all the junk added to antibacterial creams, but didn't want to let her have an infected scratch either. I rubbed on some California Baby Calendula Cream that I just happened to have in a sample bag and within a few hours the pus and redness were gone. I kept treating it a few times a day for about 3 days and the scratch healed beautifully. Since then it has been what I reach for whenever anyone in our family of 5 has a scrape that looks like it needs a little extra attention.