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Marigold

Calendula officinalis

Parts used medicinally: Flowers

Marigold is a kitchen garden staple that has been used as a medicine, food, dye and ingredient in cosmetics since the time of the Ancient Greeks. It has strong anti-inflammatory, & antimicrobial actions that are used both topically and internally in Western Herbal Medicine.

By Lily Canetty-Clarke - Medical Herbalist

Marigold - Calendula officinalis

What is Marigold?

Marigold has been used as a medicine, food, dye and ingredient for cosmetics since the time of the Ancient Greeks. Since the 13th century it has also been a kitchen garden plant and is now cultivated all over the world but more as an ornamental plant than as a plant for eating.

Modern science has confirmed its historic use as an antimicrobial agent and use as a first aid herb as it has antiseptic, anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is used both internally as a tea and decoction and topically for irritation, cuts, wounds and soothing the skin after stings, bites and burns.

Botany

Marigold is a hardy annual plant that is easily grown from seed and very low maintenance. It is the bright orange sunshine flowers that we use in herbal medicine that bloom from early summer to late autumn in northern climates and all year round in warmer climates. The Latin name Calendula comes from the Latin Calends, meaning the first day of the month, referring to the plants near-continual flowering habit.

Calendula essential oil

Medicinal Value

Anti-inflammatory:

Marigold has a high quantity of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals such as flavonoids, essential oils and plant sterols. This action underlies most of its therapeutic use and makes it specific for menstrual and digestive pain and arthritis.

Anti-bacterial, Anti-viral & Anti-fungal:

Marigold extract has been shown to have specific activity against fungi Candida albicans & Trichomonas vaginalis, viral infections such as Herpes simplex virus and Human immunodeficiency virus and bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. It is used both internally as a decoction and topically as a wash, pessary or sitz bath for vaginal thrush and mouthwash for oral thrush.

Lymphatic:

Internally it is a lymphatic herb, helping to clear the body of toxins and is particularly helpful in swollen glands and during infections. It is specific for conditions of the skin like acne, eczema and psoriasis and is generally brightening to the skin. It is actually a true hero herb for acne as its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, lymphatic and wound healing actions target many areas of this complex skin condition.

Wound Healing:

Historically marigold flowers were used to accelerate the healing of wounds and burns of the skin. Today its use is recommended by the European Scientific Commission of Phytotherapy (ESCOP) and the German Commission E for its treatment of minor inflammations of the skin and mucosa and to assist in the healing of minor wounds and burns. It is normally a popular ingredient in topical skin balms for irritations, cuts, wounds and ulcers and a soothing medicine for stings, bites and burns. It promotes tissue regeneration and promotes repair of the epithelial layer of the skin. It is also helpful for internal wounds like ulceration of the gut to reduce pain levels and indigestion and encourage healing of the ulcers.

Ways to Use Marigold at Home?

  • Marigold petals are used in salads and as a garnish.
  • Marigold is used as a dye in the food industry.
  • Marigold tea is drunk for internal wound healing and as an anti-inflammatory plant for menstrual cramp relief and arthritic pain.
  • An infusion of marigold is used externally to bathe eye infections, steam an acne prone face, wash out oral thrush and as a sitz bath for vaginal thrush.
  • A high alcohol (90%) tincture is used both internally and externally for the anti-inflammatory and lymphatic action.

Cautions

Use with caution if you have a known sensitivity to herbs or foods in the Compositae/Asteraceae family.

Did You Know?

Some people claim to be able to forecast the weather by observing marigolds, the flowers close when the wet weather is coming.

If you are pregnant/breastfeeding or on drug medication, be sure to consult with a professional before trying these remedies.

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