By Hwaa Irfan
Known as Zergul (Hindi), Butterblume (German), calendula officinalis is native to Egypt, but has been growing in European gardens since the 12th century. Not to be confused with African marigold, Tagetes patula, Calendula officinalis is a member of the Asteraceae/ Compositae family of the plant kingdom Scotch or pot marigold is used clinically, for the treatment of chilblains, chronic wounds (including slow healing wounds), and other inflammatory conditions of the skin. In some rural regions of Europe the species has been used externally for veterinary anti-inflammatory remedy by mixing the flowers heads with animal fat, heated for a short period in order to extract the active lipophilic constituents, and the resulting product is stored for usage. The flower heads which are in bloom every month (hence its botanical name calendula) have also been used to color butter and thicken soups.
The marigold has become a common garden flower with its fibrous annual roots. The stem grows to about a foot in height that produce many striated branches that are succulent. The oblong leaves alternate. Solitary rich golden yellow flowers head emanate from each branch opening at 9.00am and closing at 3.00pm. The florets at the center are tubular in shape, male and thus sterile. The florets at the edge are female, and is from where the fruits develop. The ovaries are cylindrical downy, and green.
The essential oil is rendered through a process of steam distillation or maceration. Macerated/infused Marigold/Calendula essential oil is superior therapeutically speaking as well as the cold extraction process Calendula CO2 .
Commercial production today takes mainly in Egypt as the climate allows for three crops annually, but it is also grown in South America, Hungary, France, Spain, and Britain.
Calendual officinalis contains:
- Calendulin (bassorin)
- Flavonol glycosides
- Triterpene glycosides
The carotenoid pigments have been used as coloring agents in cosmetics
Alpha-pinene provides the anti-rheumatic effect, and acts as a tonic for mucous membranes and the upper respiratory tract. Alpha-pinene acts as an anti-inflammatory, and is anti-microbial.
Limonene is the source of the smell of the oil. Limonene has anti-cancerous effects, and increases the enzymes of the liver concerned with detoxification. D-limonene has been used clinically to dissolve cholesterol-containing gallstones.
In a study carried out by the College of Pharmacy, Mahrashtra State, India, dichloromethane-methanol demonstrated anti-HIV activity.
Some of the therapeutic properties are as follows:
As an antibacterial, calendula is effective against bacterial causing gastrointestinal infections, especially the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni which causes diarrhea in children.
In a study carried out by the College of Pharmacy, Mahrashtra State, India the antifungal activity was very potent against Candida albicans, Candida dubliniensis , Candida parapsilosis, Candida, and Candida albicans.
As an anti-inflammatory, the oil of calendula officinalis is effective in the treatment of skin inflammations from bee stings – psoriasis.
As a cholagogue, calendula plays an active role in the protection of the liver and the gallbladder as it stimulates the release of bile from the gallbladder – bile is a natural laxative!
As an anti-sclerotic it prevents hardening of the bodily tissues as in the case of scleroderma, sclerosis, and varicose veins.
For glossary see It All Makes Good Scents!
Calendula officinalis has low toxicity, but as a spasmolytic it is ill advised for pregnant women as it stimulates the uterus.
The oil can only be used for external and internal, though some traditions have specific applications for internal use.).
Digestive – Acidity, cramps, indigestion, stomach upsets
Endocrine – Stimulates the kidneys, gallbladder, and liver, detoxifies the liver
Female – Yeast infections, stimulates the uterus
Mind – Soothes the central nervous system
Respiratory – Upper respiratory tract infections
Skin – Cuts, slow healing wounds, itchy, inflammation, burns, eczema, nappy rash, cracked/sore nipples, varicose veins, chemotherapy, radiation induced dermatitis, exfoliative cheilitis, tissue regeneration
Skeletal – Arthritis, rheumatism
Ingestion – A few drops can be taken as an antioxidant, and for enteric parasites.
Diffuser – For burns, rashes, cuts, bee stings, insect bites, facial toner, eczema.
Vapor therapy – For colds, decision-making, depression, fatigue, stress, lack of energy, low spirits, poor concentration, sluggish liver, upper respiratory tract infections, and voice loss. 30 drops added to a diffuser of spring water makes it an effective disinfectant.
Massage/bath oil 5–10 drops in bath water for anxiety and depression.
Suppository – 2- 5 drops with tea tree oil taken twice daily relieves vaginal yeast infections
Mouthwash – mouth ulcers, deodorant
Prance, G. “The Common History of Plants.” Routledge, U.K. 2005
King’s American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd
Mulley, B. P et al. Phytochemical Constituents and Pharmacological Activities of Calendula officinalis Linn (Asteraceae): A Review. http://www.ajol.info/index.php/tjpr/article/viewFile/48090/34455
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain