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Ultimate Guide to Calendula Flower: Uses, Nutrition & More
A golden flower that packs a healthy punch, Calendula has a rich history and a sweet taste. Get to know its many benefits, history, uses, and side effects, and maybe even start growing your own calendula flower at home!
Don’t forget to check out our other ultimate ingredient guides for more of a peek inside our flavor-packed soda can:
What is Calendula?
Calendula flower is a bright orange flower used as a herbal remedy for a wide variety of ailments due to its healing properties and soothing effects. Also known as marigolds, the calendula flower belongs to the Asteraceae or daisy family. It is originally native to Europe and northern Africa, although today, it has spread far beyond those areas.
The medicinal part of the plant is its beautiful golden flower petals, which are edible and taste mildly sweet and peppery. The petals can be used as a natural dye, culinary garnish or be applied topically to the skin for wound healing and other ailments. The flower is also an ingredient in beauty products and perfumes.
History of Calendula
Although it’s unknown exactly where or when the flower originated, there's no doubt that calendula flowers are some of the oldest cultivated flowers. As far back as the ancient Romans, Aztec, Mayan, and other ancient civilizations, the plant was used for various reasons -- from a natural dye to culinary and medicinal purposes. The plant also played a role in Hindu culture as part of their food, fabrics, and beauty products and has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for many centuries as a way to promote healthy skin.
Calendula flower has been cultivated in England dating back to the 1200s. One folktale about the flower reveals that its name came from a young girl named Mary-Gold who spent her time watching the sun until she disappeared one day. A small golden flower appeared in the spot where she always used to sit, resulting in the flower receiving her name.
Other folk tales and traditions mention the plant offering magical qualities as a good luck charm or a symbol of protection. Marigolds might even be the original plant for the famous "he loves me, he loves me not" petal pulling rhyme.
When the European settlers landed in the New World, they brought calendula flowers, nicknamed “pot-marigold”, with them — and not just for settling the score on whether a crush loves you or not! In those early days of America, the petals of the flower were primarily used for culinary purposes as a flavoring or to add a golden yellow coloring. The flowers were often found in soups, broths, butter, cheese, puddings, and wine .
It wasn’t until the 1800s that doctors discovered the plant’s medicinal properties, using the dried petals to help stop bleeding and heal wounds during the Civil War and World War I.
Ways to Use Calendula
As mentioned, the calendula flower has a history of being utilized for various purposes. The flower has a natural golden dye and a sweet taste, making it a popular choice for coloring fabrics and cosmetics and flavoring food throughout history and into today.
However, the flower is primarily known for its medicinal properties, some more grounded in research than others. The flower of the plant is rich in lutein, beta-carotene, and flavonoids (or naturally occurring substances found in fruits and vegetables), nutrients that play a role in our eye health, brain health, and various other factors of our health.
The natural chemicals in the plant are thought to help support new tissue growth, which helps with healing wounds and decreasing inflammation.These natural chemicals and their healing properties are what made the calendula flower a go-to medicinal plant throughout history. Across the years, calendula flowers have been used in various ways, including :
- Healing wounds, burns, and ulcers
- Reducing swelling, inflammation, infection, and irritation
- Preventing muscle spasms
- Treating sore throat and mouth
- Alleviating menstrual cramps
- Treating vaginal yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis
- Aiding in treatment-related side effects of cancer
A study published in The Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care found that calendula ointment helped speed up the healing of cesarean scars for 72 women. In another study published in The Journal of Wound Care researchers found that calendula treatment resulted in greater healing for those with venous leg ulcers compared to a control group.
While there are a few human studies such as these, keep in mind that most of the above uses have only been thoroughly researched through in vitro or animal studies. This means we need more research on the calendula flower’s long-term effects on the human body to fully understand its health-boosting properties.
Regardless, the flower’s rich history and early human research show that there is something special about this golden plant, even if we haven’t fully grasped its capabilities. How to Grow Calendula Given all the amazing benefits of the calendula flower, it’s no surprise that these marigolds are frequently found in home gardens. Even if you have a brown thumb, you can grow your own calendula flower right at home without too much effort!
After purchasing the seeds from your local garden shop, plant them in a flower bed, garden, or small pot or container in the springtime. Aim for right after the last frost when the weather starts to warm up. Look for an area that gets plenty of sunlight throughout the day. Place the seeds about a foot apart, and cover them in about ½ inch of soil.
The flower’s name comes from the Latin word “kalendae” which means “little calendar” or “the first day of every month”. This is due to the flower’s timely blooming schedule. And in less than two weeks after planting the flower it should be right on schedule and starting to bloom. As an annual plant in most climates, they should continue to bloom and grow until the first frost starts in the fall or winter.
Once you have a mature calendula plant, clip the whole flower (not just the petals). Use the fresh petals as a garnish in your cooking or dry the whole flower to add to your tea or to make homemade oil infusions.
To dry the flower, wrap it in a paper towel and store it in an airtight container away from the sunlight in a dry, dark place. To make a homemade oil infusion, add your dried flowers to a carrier oil like olive oil or coconut oil.
Risks or Potential Side Effects of Calendula
Claims surrounding the use of Calendula flower are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, you should first clear any use of the product for medical purposes by a medical professional first. This is especially important if you are taking any kind of medication, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or are scheduled for surgery.
However, the plant is considered likely safe for most people to consume or apply directly to the skin. The only major side effects reported from plant use are results of allergic reactions. If you are someone who is allergic to daisies, ragweed, or any other plant in the Asteraceae family,consult your primary care doctor before consuming the flower to avoid a potential allergic reaction.
Products with Calendula
The beauty industry has picked up on the benefits of calendula flowers, resulting in many different beauty products and cosmetics that feature this ingredient. If you prefer not to make a homemade oil infusion, you can go out and buy calendula oil on its own or as an ingredient in any number of products including:
- Facial or foot creams
- Healing balms
- Floral scents or perfumes
- Oils (cuticles, hair, etc.)
The healing and soothing properties of the flower are not just topical but you can be consumed them directly as well. This is why calendula is also processed into tinctures, teas, and capsules. The healing and calming properties of the plant are, in these products, claimed in these products to help the skin resist signs of aging, calm irritated skin, and promote a “radiant or dewy-fresh” look.
Why is Calendula Flower in OLIPOP?
Our team has spent years searching for ingredients like calendula flowers that are backed by research and have historical evidence of working to fuel our healthiest selves. That’s why we use calendula flowers in our OLIPOP sparkling tonics.
They’re added for their sweet taste, vibrant coloring, soothing effects, and healing properties. The natural chemicals in the plant promote healthy skin and help to decrease inflammation. Plus we’re always learning more about the health benefits and the science behind this amazing golden flower.
Interested in exploring our other ingredients? Head to our blog for more research, uses, and benefits in our ultimate ingredient guides.
- United States Department of Agriculture. (2016, May). Weed Risk Assessment for Calendula arvensis L. (Asteraceae) – Field marigold. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/weeds/downloads/wra/Calendula-arvensis.pdf
- Cervoni, B. (2020, June 14). The Health Benefits of Calendula. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/health-benefits-of-calendula-4582641
- Calendula – A Little History and Some Growing Instructions. (2016, March 1). Harvesting History. https://harvesting-history.com/calendula/
- Rose, M. (2020, January 18). Calendula officinalis History and Uses. Dave’s Garden. https://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/calendula-officinalis-history-and-uses
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. (2020, August 25). Calendula. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/calendula
- Jahdi, F., Haghighi Khabbaz, A., Kashian, M., Taghizadeh, M., & Haghani, H. (2018). The impact of calendula ointment on cesarean wound healing: A randomized controlled clinical trial. The Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 7(5).
- Buzzi, M., de Freitas, F., & de Barros Winter, M. (2016). Therapeutic effectiveness of a Calendula officinalis extract in venous leg ulcer healing. Journal of Wound Care, 25(12), 732–739. https://doi.org/10.12968/jowc.2016.25.12.732
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