I began making herbal tinctures out of pure curiosity. One of the first ones I made was a Marigold (Calendula) tincture and it has been a welcome addition to our household first-aid kit, providing many beneficial activities such as being an antispectic and antibacterial, therefore fabulous for treating skin conditions, wounds, burns and infections.
A 2009 study discussed the rapid healing benefits of Calendula officinalis which showed a significant increase in wound healing followed over 17 days. The percentage of wound closure was 90.0% in the extract-treated group, whereas the control group showed only 51.1%, so this appears to be a very good result.
Further information on its benefits can be obtained from the Natural Medicines Database where it’s mentioned the herb can also be taken orally as an antispasmodic, to initiate menstrual periods, to reduce fever, for treating cancer, and for inflammation of oral and pharyngeal mucosa and aids in gastric and duodenal ulcers.
Harvesting, Part used, Habitat, Botanical features
The Organic Dried Calendula officinalis was purchased from Avicenna Herbs in Wales. Their website suggests that the company strives to find organic suppliers where possible and also constantly search for ways to use better environmental practices during hervesting and distributing herbs. Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) information from them was unfortunately unobtainable in time for completion of this assignment, (email attached).
Calendula officinalis should be harvested between June-September when the flowers open, and dried with care, as to prevent discolouration.
Using high quality herbs, picked at their prime time, dried quickly and stored correcty, preserve many of the plants benefits.
Calendula officinalis was originally from southern Europe, is easily grown in warm, dry climates and likes a sunny position.
The Compositae Family get their name because the flower head is composed of many single flower which form the centre.
Therapeutic uses of Phytochemicals
Some of Calendula’s constituents are; Saponins, carotenoids, bitter principle, essential oil, sterols, flavonoids, mucilage. The solvency of some of these plant consitituents need a high percentage of alcohol. He states that bitter compounds are best extracted using 30-60% alcohol, essential oils, aswell as flavonoids are soluble in alcohol but mucilages are insoluble in alcohol.
A review article by the Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, suggests that the variety of phytochemicals in Calendula off such as terpenoids, flavonoids, coumarins, quinones, volatile oil, carotenoids have shown therapeutic activities such anti- HIV, anti-cancer, anti- inflammatory, hepatoprotective, spasmolytic and spasmogenic, amongst others when tested in mice and rats. Also, a cream containing calendula extract has been reported to be effective in burn oedemas as well as in acute lymphoedema in rats. Based on this review, Calendula appears to be very beneficial for both a cream and a tincture.
These form colloidal solution in water, which produce a lather upon shaking, and bubbles will accumulate on top of the maceration. Because of their hydrophilic end of the molecule (water loving) the molecule, it gives them the ability to act as a detergent on membranes of the skin. Herbs containing saponins provide us with a bitter-taste which stimulates gastric juices to promote digestion and absorption of nutrients through the cell wall of the small intestine. Some have a beneficial effect to decrease blood coagulation. They are either, triterpenoid (30 carbon) and steroidal (27 carbon) glycosides, which means they can alter the surface tension of water, which is what gives the herb a soap-like texture (Ganora L., 2009). Saponins also act as an emulsifier and therefore make calendula a suitable herb to form a base when making cosmetic creams.
Carotenoids are what give plants their orange and yellow colours. The carotenoid pigments have been used as colouring agents in cosmetics and the volatile oil has been used in perfumes.
Bitters stimulate appetite by stimulating the gastric juices which enable us to digest our food better and also slow down the heart rate. They increase bile flow, regulate blood sugar levels and counteract food sensitivities and allergies. They are also regarded as a cooling remedient, so useful for fevers and inflammation.
Through photosynthesis flavonoids give the flower the yellow, orange and red colour and are a major part of our diet, providing us with antioxidant actions which in turn are beneficial for the heart and circulation, strengthening and healing blood vessel walls and enhancing resilience to stress. They act synergistically with ascorbic acid to help the body metabolise it.
The Natural Medicines Database shows the following information on the safety of Calendula off.
- Likely safe when the flower preparations are used orally or topically and appropriately.
- Pregnancy: Likely unsafe when used orally; contraindicated due to spermatocide, antiblastocyst, and abortifacient effects. There is insufficient reliable information available about the safety of the topical use of calendula during pregnancy.
- Lactation: Insufficient reliable information available; avoid using.
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Stay well, with herbs.
Chevallier, A. (2006). Herbal Remedies (Eyewitness Companions), London. Dorling Kindersley.
Ganora, L., (2009). Herbal Constituents, Foundations of Phytochemistry, Colorado; Herbalchem Press Publishers
Gladstar, R. (2012). Medicinal Herbs, Massachusetts A Beginner’s Guide: Storey Publishing
Hoffman, D. (1990). Holistic Herbalist, London: Element Books
McIntyre, A. (2010). The Complete Herbal Tutor, London; Octopus Publishing Group Ltd
Muley BP et al (2009). Phytochemical Constituents and Pharmacological Activities of Calendula officinalis. Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research (Online). Available at: http://www.tjpr.org/vol8_no5/2009_8_5_11_Muley.pdf.
Pengelly, A. (2004). The Constituents of Medicinal Plants, 2nd Edition, London: CAB International,
Preethi KC, Kuttan R. (2009). Wound healing activity of flower extract of Calendula officinalis. 73-9 Pubmed.gov (Online). Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19601397
McIntyre, A. (2010). The Complete Herbal Tutor, London; Octopus Publishing Group Ltd.