Calendula officinalis is one of my favourite herbs. Sometimes known simply as calendula; other common names include English marigold, pot marigold or poor man’s saffron. You can’t help but smile when you look upon that stunning orange flower. Calendula has had a home in the herbal wyfe’s toolkit since she first started using plants as medicine. It was used as a food long before that.

The Romans noticed that Calendula bloomed on the first day of each month and named her for that. She was considered to be a symbol of happiness because she was always in bloom. It’s a flower which grows easily and deters aphids so is a very effective companion plant for tomatoes. It’s also considered to be great for adding nutrients to your garden. Good news if you are short on space as it grows just as happily in a pot.

Calendula officinalis

Calendula is the ultimate skin herb

Known mostly as an exceptional skin herb, calendula is the herb to reach for when you have any skin irritations. It’s also great for healing surfaces inside the body, particularly where digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome have left mucosal surfaces inflamed. Research strongly supports its use in healing skin surfaces which have been subject to irritation from radiotherapy.

Here’s a quick and easy skin soothing recipe

A bath with chamomile and calendula flowers with a drop of lavender essential oil is the perfect skin soother when you’ve caught a touch too much sun. It’s antibacterial and antifungal actions only add to its potency as a skin herb.

It reduces inflammation and spasm

A wonderful anti-inflammatory, calendula also reduces cramping. Research has shown that the flowers reduce the inflammatory cytokine, tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha), which is produced by macrophages to counter acute inflammation as well inhibiting a number of other inflammatory cytokines.

The lesser known detox herb

I love adding calendula to my detox mixes. It’s abundance of flavonoids add necessary antioxidants and it protects the liver and encourages gentle movement through the lympathic system. This wonderful balance of calming, soothing and healing of skin surfaces combined with its support of the liver helps to create a more gentle detox effect. The petals are edible and give greens a visual lift so they make a great addition to your summer salads.