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The calendula (Calendula officinalis L., 1753) is a plant of which flower heads, flowering tops and leaves are used.

Origins and History –
Calendula is a plant rich in history with which several health properties are associated.
Its scientific name derives from the Latin Kalendae, calende, first day of the month in the Roman calendar, in reference to the monthly flowering in the summer of this wonderful plant. Both the Latins and the Greeks used to call it Solsepium = follower of the sun precisely because the flowers open and close when the sun rises and falls.
Calendula is a very widespread plant in the regions of southern Europe, especially along the Mediterranean coasts but also in hilly areas, in meadows and uncultivated land.
Calendula has been revered and used since ancient times for its infinite properties and virtues and as you can imagine many ancient writers have praised its numerous privileges.
It is therefore a plant rich in history and symbolism and is mentioned in many Greek texts. Many ancient writers, however, more often than not, exchanged it for chrysanthemum (chrysanthemum) calling it a plant with golden flowers. For both the Greeks and the Latins, the fact that the flowers opened in the morning to close at sunset was considered a symbol of submission and pain for the disappearance of the sun, this belief meant that calendula was associated in the over the centuries to the feelings of pain, boredom and pain.
The association of calendula with the feeling of pain appears and is well explained also in Greek mythology, according to legend, in fact, calendula was born from the tears of the goddess Aphrodite (Venus for the Latins) desperate for the death of her lover, Adonis who was he was pierced by a boar sent against him by Ares (Mars for Latins), his most jealous husband.
However, this legend also has another Latin version, much more complete but which does not change the meaning of calendula. It is said that, Adonis son of Mirra and Tia, was raised by Venus (Aphrodite) because the mother (Mirra) had been transformed, by the Gods, into a tree, for punishment. Venus who saw the young man grow more and more enchanted by her beauty, so much so as to arouse the wrath of her husband, Mars, who decided to send a wild boar against the young man, so that he would mortally wound him.
Adonis was wounded, but Venus to protect him had him hidden inside a chest and entrusted him to the care of Proserpina, the queen of the Underworld. Proserpina, however, intrigued by the contents of the case, decided one day to open it and, at the sight of Adonis, she also fell in love with the handsome young man. Some time later Venus asked Proserpina to return the case, but this refused and Venus, irritated by the refusal, asked for help from all the Olympians. One day Zeus, tired of the dispute between the two Goddesses, decided that the young Adonis should spend part of the year with Venus, among the living, and the other with Proserpina, among the dead. At the moment of transition between death and life, however, Adonis’ blood began to flow from the wound, which touched the ground and caused a plant called Adonis to grow, while from the tears shed by Venus, when the young man returned to the underworld , a calendula plant was generated which, like Adonis, would have been destined for periods of life alternating with periods of death. For the belief that calendula was a symbol of displeasure, in ancient Greece, every depiction of pain was represented with a young man who carried with him a crown of marigolds.
The legends about the calendula are also present in the American continent.
Despite the distance between the European and the American continents, calendula has always been considered a symbol of pain in South America too, in particular for Mexicans it is the flower symbol of death, a legend tells that the marigolds, brought by the conquerors, they developed and spread in Mexican territory due to the blood shed by the natives, victims of the race to conquer gold by whites.
For the British marigolds represent, instead, the feeling of jealousy, according to popular belief they are spinsters who, having never been loved by anyone, at their death turn into yellow marigolds from anger.
In Germany it is called kuhblume and is traditionally used in the Pentecost period to adorn cattle during the Pfingst Procession.
In addition to its various meanings and the legends that surround it, Calenula was known to the ancients also for its therapeutic properties, as nowadays calendula extracts were used as emollients and to soothe the annoyances of inflammation and irritation. Still today most of the products on the market for body care are made by exploiting the properties of calendula.
In the Middle Ages the decorative use of calendula was also discovered, being adequately dried, in fact, it is one of the few flowers that does not undergo any color degradation remaining an intense yellow for many years, which is why since then it is one of the most used flowers for pot pourri.

Description –
Marigold is an annual herbaceous species with a taproot root and numerous lateral rootlets; the stem, variously branched, can sometimes reach 70-100 cm. The whole plant is covered with rough hairs and glands. The leaves are alternate with the stem, the margin is toothed. The flowers, inserted at the end of the twigs, are gathered in flower heads, surrounded by bracts covered with glandular hairs. The fruits are achenes of variable shape from arched to winged to simple, they are all wrinkled or have spines.
The drug is represented by flower heads, flowering tops and leaves.

Active principles –
Calendula is rich in active ingredients, essential oils and salts. It contains a resinous substance, calendulin, an essential oil, saponins, rubber, yellow coloring matter, an essence with traces of sesquiterpenes, salicylic acid, mucilage, vitamin C. From the plant without flowers a bitter substance is extracted which is calendene.
In detail, the composition is as follows: 0.02% ethereal oil, bitter substance of undefined chemical composition (about 19%), carotinoid coloring substance (calendulin) about 3%, rubber 2.5%, mucilage 1.5%, resin 3.4%, albumin 0.64% malic acid 6.84%, cholesterin esters of lauric, myristic, palmitic and margaric fatty acids, vitamin C 0.133-0.310% in dried flowers (2), a saponin (3), whose sapogenin has been identified with the triterpene oleanolic acid. Zimmermann isolated two other triterpene compounds from the flowers: arnidiol and faradiol. The carotinoid compounds of flowers, according to Goodwin, would be carotene, flavocromo, mutatochrome, aurocromo, flavo xantina, crisantemaxantina, xanthophyll and other unidentified pigments.
As mentioned, a bitter substance (calendene) of the brute formula C23H38O7 was extracted from the plant (without flowers).

Properties and Uses –
Since ancient times, calendula has been ascribed anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
These are properties confirmed by various studies, so much so that the plant is widely used for the treatment of inflammations of the oropharyngeal cavity and to promote the healing of wounds and burns.
The anti-inflammatory activity is attributable to the triterpenes (in particular, faradiol and its derivatives) contained in the plant itself.
The healing activity is, however, exercised by the calendula extract through an action mechanism that promotes the formation of granulation tissue and promotes the increase in the production of collagen and fibrin.
Furthermore, from some studies conducted, calendula has been shown to possess additional therapeutic activities.
In detail, the plant is also endowed with choleretic and antispasmodic properties at the level of the digestive tract, antiviral, antibacterial and even lipid-lowering. The latter activity is attributable to the saponosides contained in calendula, which have been shown to be able to reduce both high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Despite the results obtained, the above applications of this plant have not been officially approved.
In addition, as mentioned, thanks to the anti-inflammatory and healing properties exerted by the triterpene esters contained in the calendula and its extracts, this plant is widely used to counteract skin inflammations, inflammations of the mucous membranes of the oropharyngeal cavity and to promote healing and healing. wounds, burns and minor burns.
For the treatment of skin inflammations, wounds, burns and burns, calendula is used externally, generally, in the form of creams, ointments or topical solutions.
Marigold is also used by homeopathic medicine for the treatment of skin conditions such as eczema and acne, to promote the healing of wounds and burns, for the treatment of gingivitis, abscesses, eye irritations and as a remedy against oligomenorrhoea, mycoses. vaginal and to promote regularity of menstrual flow.
Generally, calendula homeopathic remedy can be found in the form of granules, drops, mother tincture or ointments.
As for the side effects and contraindications, calendula is normally well tolerated; however, sensitization reactions may occur following frequent contact of the plant or its preparations with the skin.
Furthermore, cross allergic reactions with other genera of the Compositae family are not uncommon.
In any case, therefore, the use of calendula or its preparations should be avoided in case of known hypersensitivity to one or more components.
Furthermore, the hydroalcoholic extracts of calendula increase the sleep time of barbiturates.
Regarding specifically the calendula oil, this is an oleolite obtained from the flowers of the plant.
This oil is widely used in the cosmetic and herbal fields, thanks to the numerous beneficial properties it is able to exert on the skin.
It has eudermic, emollient, soothing and calming properties, skin softeners, anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
These latter properties have been confirmed by several studies conducted on calendula and its different types of extracts. In particular, the healing action and anti-inflammatory activity, as mentioned, are attributed to the triterpene compounds and carotenoids contained in the plant.
The calendula oil – a wording that indicates the oleolith obtained from the same plant – must not be confused with the essential oil of calendula, obtained by steam distillation from both the flowers and the herbaceous parts of the same plant .
As for food use, the flowers are edible, dried and reduced to flour, called “Marigold”.

Preparations –
For the use of calendula, flowers and flowering tops are preferably harvested in April-June and in September-November. The flower heads are severed with the nails just below their insertion, the flowering tops are obtained by collecting the twigs when most of the flower heads are open. The leaves are harvested from March to November, peeling them off one by one with your hands.
For conservation, remember that all parts of the plant dry away from the sun by arranging them in thin layers and removing them often; they are kept in the dark in glass or porcelain containers.
With calendula you can get various preparations, both in the healing and food fields.
You can prepare a detoxifying herbal tea: in this case you need to pour a teaspoon of flowers in a tea cup of hot water. Cover and filter after 10 minutes. Berne, sweetening with honey, three cups a day.
A tonic can be obtained to purify the skin: it is necessary to macerate 30 g of flowers in half a liter of hot water, cover and filter after 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and use morning and evening. In addition to performing a tonic action on the tissues, the preparation cleans the pores, freeing them from blackheads.
The preparation of an infusion against rebel acne is interesting: in a coffee cup of hot water pour a teaspoon of flowers and cover; filter after 5 minutes. Drink one cup in the morning on an empty stomach and one in the evening before going to sleep.
With calendula you can obtain an anti-wrinkle and emollient oil for children: soak 20 g of marigold flowers in 250 g of olive oil for 10 days by keeping the bottle in the dark. Strain with a small cloth and squeeze very well. This oil is excellent for soothing children’s irritations.
Interesting is the marigold vinegar.
The ingredients are: calendula flowers and wine vinegar.
The procedure is as follows: carefully peel the calendula flowers, then leave them to dry in the sun for about ten days. After this time, place them in an airtight jar and pour the vinegar over them. Close the jar and let it rest for 40 days. Filtered and bottled. This vinegar, with a very particular taste, is excellent for dressing any kind of salad.
For the homemade preparation of Calendula Oil, the dried flowers of the plant must be macerated inside a vegetable oil, for a time that can vary from two to five weeks depending on the method used.
The oil used for maceration can be any vegetable oil capable of extracting the active substances contained within the calendula flowers. However, those most used are olive oil, sunflower oil and sweet almond oil.
For the procedure, inside a glass container, it is recommended to mix 50 grams of dried calendula flowers with 500 ml of extra virgin olive oil (the drug / solvent ratio should be 1:10).
Once all the flowers are immersed in the oil, close the container tightly and place it in a warm place. The flowers should be left to macerate for about 30 days, taking care to mix the contents of the container every two days or so. Of course, this operation must be performed by inverting the container several times, which must remain tightly closed and must NOT be opened before the end of the maceration period.
At the end of the maceration phase, the mixture must be filtered with the aid of gauze, in order to remove the solid residue from the liquid phase.
The oleolite thus obtained must be stored in dark glass containers, well closed and protected from light.

Guido Bissanti

Warning: The information shown is not medical advice and may not be accurate. The contents are for illustrative purposes only and do not replace medical advice.

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