Calendula is the name given to the marigold family of flowers. For thousands of years, the flower, and the oils and creams made from it have been used as a herbal remedy.
Historical texts record the use of calendula to detoxify the liver, to speed healing and to provide relief from gynaecological problems. Calendula flowers were used on the battlefield in the American Civil War to help stem bleeding and to prevent infection. Calendula is known to have antihaemorraghic and antiseptic properties.
Chemically speaking, calendula is rich in antioxidants, glycosides, saponins and anti-inflammatory compounds. Today it is commonly used in ointment or cream form to treat minor skin conditions, bites, stings and grazes. Its antibacterial properties make it a popular ingredient in natural toothpastes as well.
The antioxidant properties in calendula have made it a regular ingredient in natural skincare, where it is thought to help prevent wrinkles and skin ageing. Calendula is being investigated for its potential in treating dermatitis and eczema.
Antispasmodic properties in the plant also make it potentially useful for treating menstrual cramps and digestive disorders. Taken internally, calendula is also thought to help bring down a fever.