Calendula is also known by the names Marigold, Pot Marigold, Mary Bud, Mary Gowles, Holigold, and Golds. Calendula grows as a common garden plant throughout North America and Europe. The golden-orange or yellow flowers of Calendula have been used as medicine for centuries. The part of this plant used medicinally are the flowers. Calendula flowers were believed to be useful in reducing inflammation, wound healing, and as an antiseptic.
Calendula is an extremely effective herb for the treatment of skin problems and can be used wherever there is inflammation of the skin, whether due to infection or physical damage; for example, ulcerations, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, mastitis, cysts, impetigo or other inflamed lesions. It is also specifically indicated in enlarged or inflamed lymphatic nodes. It is believed that calendula may have some antispasmodic action, so it has also been used to relieve menstrual cramps. Calendula does have a high content of flavonoids, chemicals that act as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants are thought to protect body cells from damage caused by a chemical process called oxidation. Oxidation produces oxygen free radicals, natural chemicals that may suppress immune function. This effect may enhance immune function in general, but more studies are needed for all the possible oral uses of calendula.
Calendula contains chemicals, which have been shown in animal studies to speed up wound-healing by several actions that include increasing blood flow to the affected area and promoting the production of collagen proteins. Calendula also possesses antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects due to its flavonoid content. In mouthwashes and gargles, calendula soothes sore throat or mouth tissue; in solutions it treats hemorrhoids; in lotions and ointments it relieves acne, burns, diaper rash, insect bites, razor burns, scrapes and other relatively minor conditions of the skin or mucous membranes. Results from recent laboratory studies show that calendula may also have some anti-infective properties , particularly against fungal infections and against viruses, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The primary chemical constituents of this herb include saponins, carotenoids, flavonoids, mucilage, bitter principle, phytosterols, and polysaccharides resin. The flavonoids, found in high amounts in Calendula, account for much of its anti-inflammatory activity; triterpene saponins may also be important. Calendula also contains carotenoids. Investigations into anti-cancer and anti-viral actions of Calendula are continuing, but at this time there is insufficient evidence to recommend clinical use of Calendula for cancer. There is, however, evidence suggesting use of Calendula for some viral infections. The constituents responsible for these actions are not entirely clear. As a cholagogue, this herb helps relieve gallbladder problems and to aid digestion. As an emmenagogue, Calendula can be of benefit in the treatment of delayed menstruation. The hormonal influences are likely to stem from the sterol fraction. An infusion of the flowers can be used for such gastrointestinal problems as ulcers, stomach cramps, colitis, and diarrhea. It is also useful taken internally for fever, boils, abscesses, and to prevent recurrent vomiting. The fresh juice of the herb or flowers can substitute for the infusion. For external use, a good salve for wounds can be made from the dried flowers or leaves, or from the juice pressed out of the fresh flowers. There is an old saying: "Where Calendula is, no pus will form." The salve is also good for insect bites, bruises, sprains, pulled muscles, sores, and boils. An infusion of Calendula can be used to soothe watery, irritated eyes, and for relief in bronchial complaints. It is also used frequently in the treatment of liver disorders. Additionally, it is thought to induce perspiration in case of fever. Calendula has been shown to promote blood clotting and to reduce capillary effusion. Recent clinical studies have shown that Calendula flower extracts lower blood pressure and have sedative effects.