By Hwaa Irfan
Calendula essential oil comes from the florets of the common marigold (in Italian – Fiore d’ogni mese , ) flower which belongs to the daisy family, the Compositae. Believed to be native to Egypt, (is still grown there organically) before spreading to the Levant, and other temperate climates, the common marigold is a flower that opens with the rise of the sun, and closes with the setting of the sun.
The calendula oil is not really an essential oil, but an infusion, because of the delicate sweet petals of the yellow-orange florets, which have been used for medicinal purposes as far as Ancient Egypt, and to color cheese yellow in Europe. In Scandanavia, the dried flowers were considered a protection against winter, and was added to broths, and given to divers.
The florets which arise from a singular stem, are male, sterile, and bloom from May – October. The seeds are sown in April, and require little care other than weeding. The roots of the plant are fibrous, and replenish annually. Left to germinate, the crop will increase making an effective pesticide. Delicate once picked, the florets after picking need to be dried quickly in the shade with a good current of warm air otherwise they will lose their colour and some valuable medicinal properties. They are so delicate that when put to dry, they should not touch each other as they will become discoloured.
Calendula oil has been most commonly produced from the French and African variety of marigold, tagetes erecta, and tagetes patula respectively. As an infusion, the flowers are soaked for some time in a Carrier Oil such as extra virgin Olive Oil allowing for the Carrier Oil to become infused with the medicinal properties of the florets. Pure Calendula oil is achievable through SCO2 (supercritical carbon dioxide) distillation. After which, the petals are removed, and SCO2 is released leaving only the essential oil.
Calendula contains many properties all of which have not been identified, and they include:
- Oleanolic acids
Scopoletin regulates blood pressure when high, and raises it when too low. As an antibacterial, scopoletin has been found to be effective against various bacteria like Escherichia coli, staphylococcus aureus, and klebsiella pnumoniae. As an anti-inflammatory, scopoletin has been used in the treatment of bronchial illnesses including asthma. It also regulates the hormone serotonin, helping to reduce anxiety and depression.
Quercetin is a flavanoid, and like all flavanoids, they are strong antioxidants preventing cell deterioration. Quercetin also helps to improve cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of heart disease, and helps to protect against osteoporosis. It is also an anti-inflammatory, an anti-allergen, an anti-toxin, and in medicine has helped to reduce the blood glucose level in diabetic patients.
Kaempferol is also a flavanoid which works synergistically with Quercetin in the prevention of cancer cell proliferation.
The invigorating aroma helps to relieve the feeling of tiredness, is energizing, yet calms the nerves. It refreshes the mind, and works well as in vapor therapy as a room freshener.
- Mild Diaphoretic
- Mild Stimulant
For glossary see It All Makes Good Scents
Calendula oil as an infusion of extra virgin olive oil makes a great salve for the treatment of serious burns, bruises and cuts. As a cicatrizant, calendula oil helps in the formation of scar tissue, hence closing wounds, and as a styptic, it helps to stop the bleeding of external wounds.
In the medical world, calendula oil has been found to be useful in cases of suppressed menses, spasms, and cancer as an infusion or as an extract. It is a stimulant to the veins and the capillaries, and relieves the capillaries of engorged mucous tissues of the skin, of the nasal membrane, and the vagina. It has been found affective in the healing of radiation burns, in fact more effective than aloe vera.
As an antioxidant it prevents cell deterioration due to suppression of the immune system, and as a hepatic, acts as a tonic to the liver, as well as the kidneys.
- Acne – eczema (inflammation)
- High/Low blood pressure
- Bronchial infections
- Burns – Infected bites/wounds
- Greasy/tired/ageing skin – Superficial skin infections
- Varicose veins
Calendula oil in general is non-toxic, non-irritant, and non-sensitizing. As a spasmolytic it should be avoided by those who suffer from epilepsy and pregnant women.
Calendula, though strong in smell, can be used by people of all ages including children though concentrations will vary according to age group.
Can be used in the form of vapor therapy in the form of an oil burner, diffuser, or pillow/cushion or a in a relaxing bath as a relaxant and as an aphrodisiac by adding one drop of oil (before adding water the act of which increases dispersion and invigorates the properties.
Calendula oil can also be applied directly to the skin, or the affected area including ulcers or used in a therapeutic bath.
1-3 drops can be ingested daily to allow for the strengthening of the liver and the kidneys.
Used in the form of an infusion for medicinal purposes, calendula oil should be taken 3 or 4 times a day.
For skin care, calendula oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to natural creams to increase the benefit (14 drops per ounce of carrier/base oil or cream.
“Calendula.” British Pharmaceutical Codex: An Imperial Dispensatory Medical Practitioners and Pharmacists 1911. http://british-pharmaceutical-codex.agilityhoster.com/084.htm
Felter, H. and Lloyd, J. U. “King’s American Dispensatory.”
Wolters Kluwer Health. “Calendula.” http://www.drugs.com/npc/calendula.html