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What’s that herb?

Calendula’s cheery flowers offer much more than just potted colour. They have potent healing properties and give a whole new meaning to ‘flower power’. 

Calendula’s cheery flowers offer much more than potted colour. They have potent healing properties and give a whole new meaning to ‘flower power.’  

You may already have marigolds, one popular variety of calendula, in your garden. But calendulas offer much more than potted colour. This fabulous flower is most famous as a skin soother, proving an effective treatment for eczema, psoriasis and itchiness, plus promoting the healing of cuts and grazes. Its yellow or orange petals can be distilled into ointment with antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and pain-relieving properties.

In clinical trials, calendula has been shown to aid healing from burns, ease nappy rash, soothe inflamed skin and protect skin from damage induced by sun exposure. It may even have anti-HIV properties. 

A study of 171 children with ear infections published in Pediatrics in 2003 discovered eardrops with calendula led to significant pain reduction. Pain relief was also a factor in a 2004 study of 254 women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Calendula ointment reduced skin irritation more than a popular commercial treatment, and the women using calendula cream reported less pain.

Another study found that calendula may protect against chemical damage to the liver and kidneys. This could be due to the high quantities of flavonoids that calendula contains – antioxidants that help prevent human body cells from being damaged by unstable, highly reactive chemical molecules known as free radicals.

Calendula is traditionally considered to aid the female reproductive system – which is why herbalists and naturopaths prescribe calendula tea to regulate menstrual cycles and relieve cramps. However, there is not yet any clinical evidence to show if calendula is effective.

In the 1500s, calendula was reportedly a crucial ingredient in love potions – but unfortunately we’re still waiting for proof of whether scattering calendula petals in your lover’s footsteps has the desired effect.

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