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Benefits of Calendula

Calendula is a first-aid kit essential for summer. Here's how to use it.

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Calendula officinalis, also called pot marigold, is often referred to as “herb of the sun,” as marigold flowers open in daylight and close at night. Shakespeare gets poetic about them in his 1623 play The Winter’s Tale: “The marigold … goes to bed wi’ the sun; And with him rises weeping.” The name calendula came about because marigold is said to bloom on the calends, the first day of the month.

For centuries, calendula flowers have been dried and used for soups and broths, and thought to comfort the heart and spirits. The flower is a native of southern Europe, but it thrives in the United States. It was well-known to the old herbalists as a garden flower and for use in cooking and medicine. Today, calendula is often used to treat cuts, scrapes, and other wounds, both internally and externally.

Antiseptic Alternative

In homeopathy, calendula is commonly recommended to treat open wounds, as it has antiseptic properties. Although calendula is not an antiseptic in the true meaning of the word, it inhibits germ growth.

Traditional antiseptics, which are potent enough to kill microorganisms, are also injurious to the living cells of the body, including the defending white blood cells sent out to kill off the attacking microbes. Antiseptics such as carbolic acid, mercurial salts, and iodine wreak havoc with the blood cells as well as with the deadly germs.

See Also Herbal First-Aid Kit

If wounds are already infected or have offensive discharges, calendula has been known to clear them up in a day or two. Calendula is soothing as an external application. It neither destroys nor irritates any new skin cells that are forming; rather, it stimulates their growth. It can also be taken internally in pellet form.

When to Use Calendula

While homeopathic Arnica montana, another natural first-aid kit must-have, is recommended for bruising, calendula is a top choice for open wounds. Calendula is useful when the skin is broken, burned, or lacerated. It helps to promote circulation and healthy skin growth, which may help to reduce scar formation.

Additionally, look for the following indications:

  • Parts around the wound become red
  • The wound stings
  • Pain is excessive and out of proportion to injury
  • The wound is raw and inflamed, as if beaten
  • Motion aggravates the pain of the wound
  • The patient is extremely nervous
  • Infection
  • Any type of wound with broken skin, including burns, cuts, punctures, abrasions
  • Diaper rash
  • Post-surgical wounds
  • Feeling easily frightened, fretful and anxious, or morose
  • An overwhelming sense of an imminent calamity
  • Sleepiness
  • Feeling faint
  • Feeling better with warmth
  • Feeling better either by walking or lying perfectly still
  • Aggravated when moving parts of body that are injured
  • Aggravated by damp or cloudy weather or a chill
  • Feeling worse in the evening

Homeopathy 101

Homeopathy is a system of natural medicine founded in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann. The word homeopathy comes from the Greek roots homeo (similar) and pathos (suffering). This is in contrast to allopathy, from the roots allo (opposite) and pathos (suffering), a word coined by Hahnemann to describe conventional medical treatment of symptoms. Allopathic treatment of disease uses substances or techniques to oppose or suppress symptoms.

Homeopathy, on the other hand, is based on the principle “like cures like,” meaning a remedy that induces symptoms similar to what the person is experiencing will activate the body’s own healing response. These remedies are given in minute quantities.

Think of a common onion. What happens to you when you cut an onion? You may experience watery eyes with a burning sensation. A clear, watery discharge may come from your nose, and as it drops out of your nose the fluid burns the end of it. There can be an itchy and burning sensation in the throat. Allium cepa is a homeopathic remedy made from the red onion. A homeopath would suggest this remedy if a person has similar symptoms to those described above, such as from allergies. 

War Story

British physician Petrie Hoyle used calendula extensively during World War I at Neuilly Hospital in France, where he treated injured soldiers. Homeopathy was widely practiced during the war because orthodox management of disease often made illness worse as a result of the toxic effects of the drugs that were commonly prescribed, and were not particularly effective in any case. A visiting French surgeon complimented Hoyle on the cleanliness and sweetness of the air in his wards. ‘’There were no sickly smells of antiseptics about,’’ he recalled. Moreover, he remarked and complimented Hoyle on the low mortality and the quick recovery rates of the wounded.