A symbol of light, energy and freedom, the common marigold, or calendula officinalis, has always ignited people's imagination. Born from the tears of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, marigolds are also called the brides of the sun because they open their petals to welcome the warm sunlight and close the corolla in the evening, when the sun disappears on the horizon. And do you know what was the symbol chosen by Margherita d'Orléans to represent her? A marigold that went around the sun with the words, I do not want to follow anything but the sun, to indicate the freedom of actions and thoughts of her. And calendula is also the best ally for days spent free, in the open air, as it quickly comes to the aid in case of sunburn, skin irritated by atmospheric agents and insect bites! But let's try to better understand the properties of calendula and how to use it to benefit from it.
Calendula, or pot marigold and common marigold, scientific name calendula officinalis, contains antioxidants, such as saponins, flavonoids and carotenoids (Foroutankhah et al, Anim Nutr, 2019). Thanks to these characteristics, calendula flowers show anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, soothing and antibacterial properties, thanks to the presence of oleanolic acid, but it is also antifungal, cicatrizing and capable of stimulating the formation of connective tissue (Tresch et al, BMC Vet Res, 2019). Not only that, calendula was also found to be able to stimulate the production of hyaluronic acid in skin cells, which is a substance that retains water in the tissues allowing the skin to remain hydrated and elastic (Papakonstantinou et al, Dermatoendocrinol., 2012). Extracts of calendula applied to the skin have also helped to counteract irritation and contact dermatitis (Tresch et al, BMC Vet Res, 2019) and to protect the skin from UV-induced damage (Fonseca et al, J Pharm Sci, 2011). Finally, it has been observed that calendula is also useful in case of wounds in dogs (Tresch et al, BMC Vet Res, 2019).
Creams and ointments based on calendula can therefore be helpful and a quick first aid to always have with you in case of dry, flaky, irritated skin, with wounds, dermatitis, burns but also itchy due to insect bites. The famous herbalist Maria Treben recommends, in her book Health from the Lord's Pharmacy, to use calendula ointments to treat varicose veins, ulcers, foot mycosis and chilblains. It is sufficient to apply a little product on the affected area. You can make these products yourself. For example, the preparation of calendula oil is not difficult. Pour some dried calendula flowers into a glass jar, pour in as much vegetable oil as you need to completely cover the flowers. You can use sunflower or jojoba oil or even a mixture of the two. Close the jar and expose it to the sun or in a warm place for a month, taking care to shake it every day. After this time, filter the oil and pour it into a dark glass bottle, which must be closed and stored in a cool, dry place. There is also the ointment made, according to Maria Treben's ancient recipe, by chopping four handfuls of marigold leaves, stems and flowers and heating everything briefly in a pan together with 500 grams of lard or butter. Remove from the heat and let it rest overnight, the next day heat slightly, filter through a cloth and pour into clean jars. Alternatively, if you don't like DIY, you can easily find calendula-based products.