Considered a first-aid all-star, Calendula (Calendula officinalis) bears the nickname “mother of the skin.”
HEALING PROPERTIES OF CALENDULA
It’s been used for health remedies and spiritual rituals dating back to ancient Egypt and early Christianity. Boasting antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, calendula is still used to help heal skin inflamed by chafing, blisters, bites, and burns, as well as in treatment for dermatitis, eczema, wounds, and diaper rash. Calendula is found in a variety of cosmetics, as well as medicinal lotions, creams, and ointments applied to the skin to help reduce pain and swelling and encourage new tissue growth.
Medicinal Calendula has fiery red and yellow petals and is from the Marigold Asteraceae family, not to be confused with common garden marigold from the Tagetes group. In addition to topical applications, calendula flowers and leaves are used in capsules, oils, teas, and tinctures. An integrative and functional medicine practitioner can help you determine which form of calendula is best to treat specific health concerns.
Precautions for Using Calendula
There are a few precautions for using calendula: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may use calendula topically, but should not take it by mouth. Calendula may interact with other medications, resulting in drowsiness. Since it’s part of the ragweed family, people sensitive to or allergic to marigold, daisy, or chrysanthemums should not use calendula products unless under a doctor’s care. Be sure to consult with a doctor of natural medicine if any of the above situations apply to you.
DIY CALENDULA SALVE RECIPE
Using calendula flowers, you can make your own healing salve with this easy recipe.
Beeswax acts as a preservative, giving this salve a shelf life of about six months. After that time, it will develop a rancid odor letting you know it’s shelf life has expired. Store the salve in an airtight container, in a cool dry place, away from heat or direct light, especially sunlight.
- 2 oz Calendula Flowers + 1 cup Olive Oil
- 1 oz shaved beeswax (or beeswax pastilles)
- Vitamin E Oil (Optional)
- Put the flowers and oil in a small stainless steel, glass, or ceramic pot and place a thermometer into the mixture.
- Heat to 120 degrees F and “cook” at this temp for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.
- Strain the oil.
- Put the fixed oil into a stainless steel, glass, or ceramic pot; add the shaved beeswax. Warm until wax melts.
- Test consistency with a metal spoon: Dip the spoon in mixture and place into freezer for 3-5 minutes. Add either more beeswax or oil if needed to reach desired consistency.
- Put into an airtight container; allow to cool and harden completely before moving into storage.
- Label and date the salve.
Adding a few drops of Vitamin E oil will help preserve the salve, increasing its shelf-life.
If, after being in the freezer, the salve is too hard to spread easily on the skin and be absorbed, add more oil. If the salve comes out softer or too liquidy, add more beeswax. Hardness or softness of the salve is both a personal preference and relevant to the purposes intended for the final product (e.g., on rough elbows you may want a harder salve. For diaper rash, you may want a softer product).
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MedlinePlus.gov “Calendula.” Accessed 3 June 2018: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/235.html
Herbal Resource. “Calendula: Health Benefits and Side Effects.” Accessed 3 June 2018: https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/calendula-herbs.html
Alnuqaydan, A.M., Lenehan, C.E., et al., “Extracts from Calendula officinalis Offer in Vitro Protection Against H2O2 Induced Oxidative Stress Cell Killing of Human Skin Cells.” Phytotherapy Res (30 Sept 2014) 29:1, https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.5236