Calendula or pot marigold, is a genus of about 15–20 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants in the daisy family Asteraceae. They are native to southwestern Asia, western Europe, Macaronesia, and the Mediterranean. Other plants are also known as marigolds, such as corn marigold, desert marigold, marsh marigold, and plants of the genus Tagetes. The name calendula is a modern Latin diminutive of calendae, meaning “little calendar”, “little clock” or possibly “little weather-glass”. The common name “marigold” refers to the Virgin Mary. The most commonly cultivated and used member of the genus is the pot marigold (Calendula officinalis). Popular herbal and cosmetic products named ‘calendula’ invariably derive from C. officinalis.
Calendula officinalis (pot marigold, ruddles, common marigold, garden marigold, English marigold, or Scottish marigold) is a plant in the genus Calendula of the family Asteraceae. It is probably native to southern Europe, though its long history of cultivation makes its precise origin unknown, and it may possibly be of garden origin. It is also widely naturalized further north in Europe (north to southern England) and elsewhere in warm temperate regions of the world.
Calendula officinalis is a short-lived aromatic herbaceous perennial, growing to 80 cm (31 in) tall, with sparsely branched lax or erect stems. The leaves are oblong-lanceolate, 5–17 cm (2–7 in) long, hairy on both sides, and with margins entire or occasionally waved or weakly toothed. The inflorescences are yellow, comprising a thick capitulum or flowerhead 4–7 cm diameter surrounded by two rows of hairy bracts; in the wild plant they have a single ring of ray florets surrounding the central disc florets. The disc florets are tubular and hermaphrodite, and generally of a more intense orange-yellow colour than the female, tridentate, peripheral ray florets. The flowers may appear all year long where conditions are suitable. The fruit is a thorny curved achene.
Calendula officinalis or marigold is widely cultivated and can be grown easily in sunny locations in most kinds of soils. Although perennial, it is commonly treated as an annual, particularly in colder regions where its winter survival is poor and in hot summer locations where it also does not survive.
Calendulas are considered by many gardening experts as among the easiest and most versatile flowers to grow in a garden, especially because they tolerate most soils. In temperate climates, seeds are sown in spring for blooms that last throughout the summer and well into the fall. In areas of little winter freezing (USDA zones 8–11), seeds are sown in autumn for winter color. Plants will wither in subtropical summer. Seeds will germinate freely in sunny or half-sunny locations, but plants do best if planted in sunny locations with rich, well-drained soil. Pot marigolds typically bloom quickly from seed (in under two months) in bright yellows, golds, and oranges.
Leaves are spirally arranged, 5–18 cm long, simple, and slightly hairy. The flower heads range from pastel yellow to deep orange, and are 3–7 cm across, with both ray florets and disc florets. Most cultivars have a spicy aroma. It is recommended to deadhead (removal of dying flower heads) the plants regularly to maintain even blossom production.
Numerous cultivars have been selected for variation in the flowers, from pale yellow to orange-red, and with ‘double’ flowerheads with ray florets replacing some or all of the disc florets. Examples include ‘Alpha’ (deep orange), ‘Jane Harmony’, ‘Sun Glow’ (bright yellow), ‘Lemon’ (pale yellow), ‘Orange Prince’ (orange), ‘Indian Prince’ (dark orange-red), ‘Pink Surprise’ (double, with inner florets darker than outer florets) and ‘Chrysantha’ (yellow, double). ‘Variegata’ is a cultivar with yellow variegated leaves.
Calendulas are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Cabbage Moth, The Gothic, Large Yellow Underwing, and Setaceous Hebrew Character.
What is Calendula Essential Oil?
Marigold is a genus of about 15 to 20 species of plants in the Asteraceae family. This flower is native to Southwestern Asia, as well as Western Europe and the Mediterranean. The common name “marigold” refers to the Virgin Mary, to which it is associated in the 17th century.
Apart from being used to honor the Virgin Mary during Catholic events, marigold was also considered by ancient Egyptians to have rejuvenating properties. Hindis used the flowers to adorn status of gods in their temples, as well as to color their food, fabrics, and cosmetics.
Pot marigold or C. officinalis is the most commonly cultivated and used species, and is the source of the herbal oil. “Calendula” comes from the Latin word “calendae,” meaning “little calendar,” because the flower blooms on the calends or the first of most months. It should not be confused with ornamental marigolds of the Tagets genus, commonly grown in vegetable gardens.
Calendula, with fiery red and yellow petals, is full of flavonoids, which are found naturally in vegetables and fruits and are substances that give plants their lovely bright colors.
Calendula essential oil is distilled from the flower tops and is quite sticky and viscous. With the maceration extraction method, the flowers are soaked in hot oil to have their cell membranes ruptured and the hot oil then absorbs the essence. The oil is then cleared of the botanical and decanted. It has a very strange smell described as musky, woody, and even rotten – like the marigold flowers themselves. This smell does not readily appeal to many individuals, even in when used in a remedy.
There is almost no way to get 100% pure marigold calendula essential oil. This makes calendula essential oil an infusion and not a pure extract. Nonetheless, the warm golden oil is said to be completely non-toxic and highly effective in treating nearly every sort of skin disorder. Oil distilled from various breeds of calendula may vary in efficiency, but in general marigold calendula is recognized to be the most therapeutic kind.
Calendula essential oil is used in various products, oftentimes as a great base for lotions, salves, creams, several natural cosmetics and personal care products, and herbal ointments. It also very commonly works as a base oil in aromatherapy. Furthermore, you can use calendula essential oil in an all-natural herbal hair color recipe.
You can create an infused oil by filling a jar with the dried flowers, which you cover with a carrier oil. You can get more out of these flowers by macerating the mixture in a blender. Leave it infused for two weeks or more to extract the flowers’ beneficial properties. When ready to use, filter the oil through cheesecloth, and use it directly in a balm or as part of a homemade cream or lotion.
Chemical Constituents of Calendula Essential Oil
In a study, calendula essential oil was obtained in low yield (0.3 percent) by steam distillation with cohobation from flowers and whole plants. Identified by the researchers were 66 components, mainly sesquiterpene alcohols. α-cadinol was the main constituent, about 25 percent. The essential oil from the whole plant was found different from that of the flowers through the presence of monoterpenes hydrocarbons aside from the alcohols.
The principal constitutes of calendula essential oil are flavonoids, saponosene, triterpenic alcohol, and a bitter principle. The useful components of calendula itself include a volatile oil, carotenoids, flavonoids, mucilage, resin, polysaccharides, aromatic plant acids, saponins, glycosides, and sterols.
Uses and Benefits of Calendula Essential Oil
The antiseptic properties of calendula make this oil a top choice for every first aid kit. Use this herb to prevent infection from bug bites, scratches and minor cuts and burns. Oil should not be used on deep tissue burns and cuts. Discontinue use if allergic reactions to calendula are noticed.
2. Healing Properties
One of the best reasons to keep calendula handy is due to its healing abilities. If you apply calendula essential oil to your cuts, scrapes, bruises, and insect bites, you can quickly speed the healing process, partially due to the anti-inflammatory properties of the oil, in addition to the unique antioxidant compounds found in this miraculous plant. By protecting against infections, calendula essential oil keeps wounds and scrapes safe, allowing them to rapidly heal. Nutritional consultant Phyllis A. Bach, states in her book “Prescription for Herbal Healing” that external treatment with this herb will “kill Staphylococcus aureus, a common germ that infects abrasions, burns, and cuts.” This translates into extra healing power for skin that gets battered by abrasive work such as landscaping and woodworking.
3. Oral Health
There are also certain antibacterial properties of calendula that have made it very popular in recent years. You will often find calendula on the ingredients list of various herbal health and hygiene products, including toothpastes, mouthwashes, soaps, and shampoos. In terms of oral health, toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain calendula are very effective in killing bacteria that cause everything from gingivitis to cavities.
4. Skin Health
Aside from stimulating healing, calendula essential oil can significantly boost the appearance of your skin. It can affect blood flow to the skin cells, provide antioxidant protection that reduces the appearance of wrinkles and ages spots, and even the visibility of scars. If you want smooth, even-toned skin that glows with youthful vitality, consider adding some organic products that contain calendula or consume calendula in another form, such as tea. Calendula essential oil could ease the inflammation of the lesions and slow the spread of psoriasis. Psoriasis is an extremely difficult skin disease to treat. It is a dermal infection characterized by inflamed lesions on the skin covered by a silvery white scale. Psoriasis may be noncontagious, but it could also be deadly, especially if left untreated. Studies show that an estimated four hundred people die of psoriasis-related diseases every year in the United States alone. Occurrences of psoriasis are most common among Caucasian females, and rare among those with darker skin. Often, psoriasis strikes at an advanced age, and there are indications that it may be a genetic disease.
5. Vision Health
Research has shown that calendula contains certain antioxidant compounds that directly impact your vision. Beta-carotene is essential for the health and functioning of your eyes, and calendula is a wonderful source of this compound. You can prevent macular degeneration and the development of cataracts in this way.
Swollen, inflamed tissue is the ideal place to apply the healing properties of calendula essential oil. Dry skin, eczema and hemorrhoids respond to calendula’s high triterpenoid content. Reducing inflammation is also key to reducing pain. Parents can rely on calendula essential oil to ease the pain and irritation of diaper rash. Regardless of where you inflammation is occurring, calendula can significantly reduce the discomfort. If you are suffering from a cough or congestion, calendula tea can be a wonderful remedy. If your joints are hurting from arthritis or gout, add some calendula essential oil to a skin balm and enjoy a rapid reduction in pain. Finally, if your stomach is upset, calendula can help normalize your gastrointestinal system and eliminate any inflammation that may be causing discomfort.
7. Cancer Prevention
Calendula essential oil has certain anti-tumor properties that make it very valuable in new cancer research exploring natural solutions to this global epidemic. Cancer remains one of the great mysteries of our species in terms of collective health, and compounds like those found in calendula offer an interesting new angle on this critical issue. It certainly can’t hurt to try!
There are also some anti-spasmodic properties of calendula that are also taken advantage of by many people. If you suffer from a nervous system disorder, have painful cramping in relation to menstruation, or some other type of spasmodic condition, adding calendula to your diet may be a wise choice.
Precautions for Calendula Essential Oil
Calendula essential oil is generally safe for use, but I advise you to heed the following safety guidelines and considerations:
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should generally avoid using calendula essential oil. Do not take calendula by mouth, as there is a concern that it might cause a miscarriage. Avoid topical use as well.
An allergic reaction may occur in individuals who are sensitivity to ragweed and related plants, such as marigolds, chrysanthemums, and daisies. Before using calendula essential oil, check with your doctor if you have allergies.
Combined with medications used during and after surgery, calendula use might cause too much drowsiness and should be stopped at least two weeks before surgery.
If you are not pregnant, nursing, allergic, or about to undergo surgery, you can use calendula essential oil with likely no side effect. It is best, however, to consult your healthcare provider, especially for therapeutic use.
Remember, though, that sedative medications or CNS depressants interact with calendula. The plant extract might cause sleepiness and drowsiness, and taking it with sedative drugs might result in excess sleepiness. Some sedative drugs include clonazepam, (Klonopin), phenobarbital (Donnatal), and zolpidem (Ambien). I advise you to also explore safe, natural ways to get a good night’s sleep.