If you're anything like me, you see the word "anti-inflammatory" everywhere. It's become quite trendy. Everything is anti-inflammatory this and anti-inflammatory that. And I have found lately that trendy in nutrition isn't quite the same as say trendy in something like fashion (and I don't mean that in a negative way). Simply, meaning that in health and wellness trends happen for a reason that is bigger than just a trend. See, in nutrition school, I learned quickly that most health issues can be traced back to inflammation. Of course, this is a longer blog post in itself. But for now, this week herb is one of THE anti-inflammatory plants: Calendula
Botanical Latin Name: Calendula officinalis
Botanical Family: Asteraeace (pepper) family
Parts used: Flowers
Method: Tea, tincture, food
Actions: Antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, lymphatic, astringent, vulnerary, emmenagogue
Taste: bitter, salty, slightly sweet
Dosage:Tea, infuse 1-2 tsp dried herb to 8 oz of water, steep for 10-15 minutes, drink 1-3 cups daily. Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (5-60 drops) 1-3 times daily.
Contraindications: Don't use if you have an allergy to the aster family; if taking sedatives or anti-inflammatory drugs; or possibly harmful if pregnancy or lactating
Calendula, also known as Marigold, is not just beautiful and cheery in the garden, it's also great for us as well. The Egyptians even believed they had rejuvenating properties. Calendula helps in repairing cells and is antiseptic, helping to keep infections away. It is most commonly used externally on the skin for burns, scrapes or for soothing skin irritations like acne or eczema, due to its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Calendula is also great internally for the immune system and for those with swollen glands or congested lymph nodes. It is wonderful for our digestion and can help soothe cramps, gas or diarrhea. Those that feel worse in damp, cold, heavy, cloudy weather, or tend to cold easily will benefit from this herb. It can be used as a tea and tincture form, as well as, in soups, bone broths or in salads (see recipe below).
Helpful uses for calendula:
- Externally on wounds and burns
- Soothing acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes
- GI issues like ulcers, stomach cramps, indigestion and diarrhea
- Digestive inflammation
- Relieve gallbladder issues
- Helps with delayed menstruation (meaning it can aid in starting it)
- Ease painful periods
- Normalize menstruation
- Herpes sores
- Bruises and black eyes
- Insect stings
- Athlete’s Foot
- Sore nipples
- Lymph-node congestion
- Chronic infections
I love to use calendula oil topically since it's antibacterial and soothes acne and eczema or for calming and healing burns, cuts and scrapes. Making it yourself is super simple!
Cold-Infused Calendula Oil*
1 ounce dried calendula flowers
16 ounces olive oil (other options almond or avocado, or jojoba, but note jojoba should not be used as a salad dressing, the others are all fine to be ingested)
Fill a quart mason jar about ¾ full (should be about 1 ounce of calendula flowers give or take). Then fill to the top with olive oil (about 16 ounces maybe slightly less). Cover with the lid and put in a sunny place to infuse for 4-6 weeks. You can shake it every now and then when you remember, but you don’t have to. When you are ready, drain the petals from the oil and keep in a new container for up to a year.
For a quicker method, you can grind the calendula up in a blender to make a powder and infuse it with the oil for 2 weeks or more for a stronger oil. Then strain with a cheese cloth.
When it’s done, it should be a golden orange color. You can use this on your skin, in a salve for chapped skin or lips, as a hair rinse, or even on salads! Enjoy!
You can also buy calendula in an essential oil. However, while I was doing some research for this post I came across this Dr. Mercola’s blog post, “Calendula oil is extracted by steam distillation. There is almost no way to obtain 100 percent pure calendula essential oil, so this makes calendula essential oil an infusion and not a pure extract.” Now, I do have the essential oil too, but I find I use the infused oil I make more and it's more economical.
Other uses for the oil:
- Moisturize dry or itchy skin
- Heal cracked hands and feet
- Massage into areas to help with varicose veins
- Heal wounds, cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites
- Sooth sunburns
- Calming diaper rash for babies
- Oil pulling
- Oil cleanser/moisturizer for trouble skin
- Massage to abdomen then add heat pack for healing menstrual cramps
Calendula is also fantastic as a calming herbal facial steam. If anyone is interested in that drop me a line and I will send it over to ya!
*Organic is best, where possible