The Herb of the Sun
Marigold, or Pot Marigold, is a herbaceous plant well-known to many herbalists and cottage gardeners. Sporting orange, and sometimes yellow, colored flowers, Marigold belongs to the Compositae family – otherwise known as the 'daisy' family.
Related to the sunflower, dahlia, chrysanthemum, zinnia and dandelion, Marigold has been propagated since the times of ancient Rome, and is native to areas in and around the Mediterranean.
Nicknamed the 'herb of the sun' by Nicholas Culpeper, Marigold (Calendula officinalis) thrives in full sunlight and warm, well-draining soils. It is an ideal companion plant for vegetable gardens, naturally deterring insect pests from homegrown crops.
Like English Lavender, Marigold has many applications in herbal medicine. Bright and purposeful, it is used to treat a variety of medical issues, from indigestion to irregular menstruation, fungal infections to wounds and minor skin complaints. The healthful attributes of this herb are derived from its florets (or petals). Marigold flowerheads are generally harvested during the summer months and "only the common deep orange-flowered variety is of medicinal value." (Grieve, p. 518)
Calendula officinalis is commercially grown in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and is incorporated into a number of natural cosmetic products, eg herbal toothpaste, cleansers, moisturizers and shampoo.
The active constituents of Marigold include "carotenoids (pro-Vitamin A), resin, essential oil, sterols, flavonoids and bitter principle." (Mills, p. 145).
Health conditions that may benefit from Marigold are:
• skin inflammation
• eczema and psoriasis
• external wounds
• minor burns
• stomach ulcers
• gall-bladder complaints
• fungal infections, and
• irregular menstruation.
For the home herbalist or professional practitioner, Marigold (Calendula officinalis) offers invaluable therapeutic actions. Anti-inflammatory, vulnerary and astringent, it has the ability to soothe and heal skin tissue – internally and externally. "Internally, it acts as a valuable herb for digestive inflammations or ulcers. Thus it may be used in the treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers." (Hoffmann, p. 213)
On the external level, Marigold helps to nourish the body, and promote natural healing of minor cuts and sores. Applied to face or body, by way of a cream or lotion, it can improve areas that may be showing signs of dryness, irritation or bruising – even fungal infection. "Marigold has marked anti-fungal activity and may be used both internally and externally to combat such infections." (Hoffmann, p. 213)
As an emmenagogue, Marigold (Calendula officinalis) effectively supports the female reproductive system. It gently regulates the menstrual cycle, and eases feelings of pain, tension and discomfort. "It has an oestrogenic effect which helps relieve menopausal symptoms and reduces breast tenderness and mastitis." (McIntyre, p. 77)
To restore personal health simply and easily, Marigold (Calendula officinalis) can be taken internally as a tea (or 'infusion'). Recommended preparation, dose and frequency for Marigold tea are, as follows, "pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoons of the florets and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day." (Hoffmann, p. 213)
A highly versatile herb, Marigold is suitable for use as a gargle or mouthwash. Its antiseptic qualities are excellent in relieving gum disease and infections of the throat, and it is also known to aid conditions that affect the eyes. Using Marigold as an eyebath helps to assuage conjunctivitis, and inflamed and sore eyes.
Depending on the situation, Marigold can also be applied on the skin as a poultice or herbal compress. "Compresses applied to bruises, sprains and strains will reduce swelling and pain. A crushed flower can be rubbed on to insect bites, wasp or bee stings." (McIntyre. p. 78) Useful on its own or combined with other healing herbs, Marigold is a remarkable remedy in herbal medicine.
Another area of holistic medicine in which Calendula officinalis has practical uses is in homeopathy. Abbreviated as Calen., it promotes quick healing of wounds and is "useful for open wounds, parts that won't heal, ulcers, etc. Promotes healthy granulations and rapid healing by first intention." (Boericke, p. 139)
Calen. (Marigold) can be used for all wounds, and according to Boericke, is 'the greatest healing agent'. Helpful in alleviating injury pain, Calen. is an ideal choice of remedy for use in situations where a person is experiencing excessive pain, far beyond what would normally be expected with that particular affliction.
From the viewpoint of homeopathy, a person with a Marigold constitution (or 'symptom picture'), is noticeably cold and uncomfortable. Made worse by damp surroundings and cloudy weather, their mental state is highly nervous and frightful. There is deafness, as well as hoarse coughing, heartburn and headache. Sensitivity to open air is also apparent.
As an essence, and ancient flower, Marigold represents the cycle and flow of eternal life. Part of the range of FES Quintessentials Flower Essences, it "is related to the Word, the source of all creation, the womb of all life" and ". . . extends into the creative force of the written or spoken word and can be used to enhance communication through this medium." (McIntyre, p. 78)
Whether spoken by mouth, or written by hand, words are an essential part of human expression. How we speak and what we say (or write) to others is significant as we go about our daily lives. In this context, Calendula is an important remedy for those who dishonor and disrespect the feelings and needs of others. With an abrasive communication style, their speech is often inconsiderate and hurtful.
As an 'antidote' of sorts, Calendula nurtures the desire to understand and relate well with others, so warmth and caring can permeate our words instead. We are then free to expand into a sense of compassion, so our communication can be both active and receptive (a 'balancing' of the masculine and feminine aspects of our nature).
Letting go of argument and respecting the inner feelings of others is all part of living the spiritual journey we call Life. Marigold gifts us with this possibility – one step at a time, one word at a time.
- While Marigold (Calendula officinalis) is safe and non-toxic to use under most circumstances, avoid using this herb during pregnancy.
Next article: Facts About Dandelion