Calendula officinalis (pot marigold) is a beautiful brightly colored yellow and orange flower of the daisy family Asteraceae commonly called marigolds. Calendula has been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of ailments and is still used to this day in the cosmetics and skin care industry for it’s skin soothing properties. If you look at the ingredients in your lotion, sunscreen or deodorant odds are you will see calendula somewhere. We use calendula in our raw hemp balm for both it’s skin healing benefits as well as its anti-inflammatory properties.
In this blog we explore the history, science and beauty of calendula and how this colorful wildflower can be incorporated into your skin care routine today for healthier skin and a happier you.
The ancient Romans called the first day of the month calendar and because calendula flowered so abundantly it is believed that is why they named the plant calendula or “little calendar” or “little clock.” Calendula is native Canary Islands, Eurasia, and parts of North Africa and Iran, but now grows in almost all temperate regions of the world including North America. Calendula has been used over the centuries for culinary, medicinal and ceremonial purposes.
The intoxicating colors, buttery texture and mild flavor of calendula petals are perhaps the flowers most prized utility. The petals of the calendula flower are edible and have been used to make pudding, soup, wine and added to salad or mixed with steamed spinach. In16th century Europe, calendula was practically considered a vegetable and was tossed into nearly everything. An herbalist of that time John Gerard noted that no serious soup was without calendula petals and an 18th century British cookbook included recipes for calendula oatmeal.
I personally love putting calendula petals in my salad mix or steaming a few up with spinach or collard greens. There is something about edible flowers that feels sacred and ritualistic. It’s no wonder this flower has inspired potions, poetry, elixirs and ointments for centuries and will likely continue to delight future generations with its vibrant colorful blooms.
Calendula is a member of the daisy family with approximately 15-20 different species. Commonly called Marigold, calendula has historically been used for headaches, toothaches, red eyes and fevers, but has never caught on as a major medical herb. Tinctures of calendula have been used to treat amenorrhea, cramps, fever, flu, tuberculosis and syphilis. Calendula has been explored as a potential cure for cancer, but the evidence for this is limited.
Calendula flowers contain triterpene glycosides and aglycones, carotenoids, and essential oils. The presence of the carotenoids like beta-carotene, which gives calendula and carrots their orange color, is of particular interest to my own herbal formulations. These bright pigments are known as biologically active compounds with therapeutic properties. I personally believe that it is the presence of certain carotenoids in certain cultivars of calendula that may in fact have powerful anti-cancer properties that have only marginally been studied. When combined with hemp, which is diverse in its own range of flavonoids, terpenes and of course cannabinoids, calendula may finally have found its Batman to its Robin. In cannabis therapeutics we talk a lot about The Entourage Effect which says that the sum is greater than the individual part, so with that in mind combining hemp with the correct complementary herbs is essential to an effective formula. Calendula, I believe is one of those herbs and even if science has not yet “proven” this, it still looks beautiful in your garden and will always inspire joy and awe to all that behold it’s bountiful beauty.
Infusion of calendula in water has been used in magic potions dating back to the 16th century. Calendula was believed to reveal a woman's romantic destiny when ground into a powder and combined with other herbs and then rubbed all over your body. Its use in potions and possibly witchcraft has no doubt added to its lore. Poets have written about the marigold, named after the virgin Mary, and painters, photographers and gardens alike can attest to the intoxicating draw of calendula.
Calendula has adorned gardens from the ancient Roman times all the way to modern times with its beautiful colors, shapes and regular blooming schedule. It is perhaps its beauty that has drawn humans to it. The psychological effects of color and smell have been extensively studied, but often this is left out of the conversation of wellness and health. Walking through a garden bursting with flowering calendula can have a calming and grounding effect. Our companionship with nature is the backbone of our mental health. So next time you’re feeling blue, get a little yellow and orange in your life with nature's “little clock” the beautiful, magical, healing calendula flower.
Calendula for Your Skin Care and Beauty Routine
The true potential of calendula I believe is in it’s skin healing and beautifying abilities. Calendula is widely used for cuts, burns, bruises, and rashes. According to herbalist Jeanne Rose a calendula rinse can bring out the highlights of brunette and blonde hair. The use of this flower topically may also help with pain, and when combined with other medicinal herbs like whole flower hemp, the full potential of this plant may be in its ability to assist and aid the efficacy of the overall formula.
- Pain relief
Our Raw Hemp Balm combines whole flower hemp with calendula petals. Our calendula oil is made by infusing organic calendula petals from France into a mixture of sunflower, grapeseed and jojoba oil. This infused oil is a bright reddish orange color and smells of fragrant calendula flowers. Roughly 15% of our balm formula is made from calendula oil, so this is no insignificant part of our formula. In fact our original formula for our Raw Cannabis Balm that our Raw Hemp Balm is based off of was called “Cannabis & Calendula.”
If you want to try making your own calendula infusion at home you can simply crush dried calendula petals into a powder or infused in olive oil and make your own calendula infused body oils, hair and beard oils, face washes etc. If you’re not ready to make your own you can try our Raw Hemp Balm and experience the soothing and pain relieving properties of this magical plant for yourself.
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* Information in the blog post was collected primarily from Rodal’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs.