Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a cheery orange, sometimes yellow, member of the Asteraceae family that is used for healing burns and wounds, moving lymph, and stimulating bile production. This annual is native to the Mediterranean region yet widely cultivated for its medicinal properties. Its uplifting color makes a great addition to your windowsill or flower garden. The flower petals are a bright and tasty addition to salads. The leaves are also edible, albeit resinous and slightly bitter in taste. In days past it was used as ‘the poor man’s saffron’ as a way to impart color and flavor to some foods, such as soups and rice.
Calendula flowers are used in salves, lotions, and cosmetics for their anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and toning qualities. The flowers are also infused (tea) and tinctured (alcohol extract) to be used internally and topically. Calendula is a key addition to your herbal first-aid kit as it has an affinity for quickly healing burns, cuts and scrapes. It stimulates cell regeneration and inhibits infection and scarring in surface wounds including acne and rashes. It has been used traditionally for stomach ulcers, conjunctivitis, and liver complaints.
Calendula has no known drug interactions or contraindications. Rare allergic reactions are possible in those with a sensitivity to chamomile, feverfew, ragweed, or dandelion pollen. Avoid internal use during early pregnancy due to traditional use as an emmenagogue (uterine stimulant).
Our resident redhead recommends using Calendula for those who have had too much fun in the sun. Combine equal parts rose water, witch hazel extract, aloe vera gel, and strong Calendula infusion (let it cool before combining). Add ~20-30 drops lavender essential oil for each ounce of fluid. Store in a spritzer bottle in the fridge and spray generously and frequently on the skin after excessive sun exposure. This will help cool, tone and rehydrate the skin.
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