Genus & Name
Calendula is a genus of 15–20 herbaceous plants in the daisy family (genus Asteraceae) commonly known as marigolds. It is native to southwest Asia, western Europe, Macaronesia and the Mediterranean.
The Latin name of the genus Calendula means "little calendar", "little clock" or "little weather glass". The most commonly cultivated member of the genus is Calendula officinalis, the pot marigold. Popular herbal and cosmetic products called "Calendula" always come from Calendula officinalis.
The common name for Calendula officinalis in Britain is 'pot-marigold', so called because of its use in broths and soups.
Calendula was used in historical times for headaches, red eyes, fever and toothache.
The ancient Romans and Greeks used the golden Calendula in many traditions, sometimes wearing crowns or garlands made from this flower.
However, the most common use in historical times was cooking, and the plant was used for both its color and flavor. They were used for pasta, wine, porridge and puddings. In English cuisine, marigolds were often cooked in the same pot as spinach & used to flavor food. According to the 16th century Englishman John Gerard, any proper Dutch soup in his day would include calendula petals.
Also known as "poor man's saffron", the petals are edible and can be used fresh in salads or dried and used to color cheese or as a substitute for yolk. Calendulas have a mildly sweet taste that is slightly bitter and as it dries these flavors become more intense. It can be used to add color to soups, stews, meat dishes, creams and liqueurs.
The dye can be extracted from the flower and produce shades of honey, golden orange, light brown and vivid yellow.
Calendula officinalis flowers contain flavonol glycosides, triterpene oligoglycosides, oleanane-type triterpene glycosides, saponins and a sesquiterpene glycoside.
Calendula officinalis oil is still used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory and remedy for healing wounds & skin conditions. Calendula ointments are skin products available for use on minor cuts, burns, eczema and skin irritations
Plant pharmacological studies have suggested that Calendula extracts have antiviral, antigenotoxic and anti-inflammatory properties in vitro. In herbal medicine, calendula in suspension or tincture is used topically to treat acne, reduce inflammation, control bleeding, and soothe irritated tissue. Limited evidence shows that calendula cream or ointment is effective in treating radiation dermatitis. Topical application of Calendula officinalis ointment has helped prevent dermatitis and pain.
Calendula has been used traditionally for abdominal cramps and constipation. In experiments, the aqueous-ethanolic extract of Calendula officinalis flowers was shown to have both spasmolytic and spasmogenic effects, thus providing a scientific rationale for this traditional use. However, ingesting large amounts of the plant should be done with caution as it can potentially become toxic.
It should also be avoided during pregnancy since the necessary studies have not been done and allergic reactions have been observed.
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