Calendula (calendula officinalis) is an annual plant native to north western Mediterranean countries and south western Asia. However, now they can be found across the world as an ornamental plant. They are also known as pot marigold, holligold, and gold bloom.
It gets its name from its tendency to bloom with the calendar, once a month or with a new moon. Its nickname, marigold or ‘Mary’s Gold,’ refers to the Virgin Mary and the flowers are used to honor her. Even the Hindus used the flowers in beautifying their gods’ temples. The Egyptians, on the other hand, regarded the calendula for its supposed rejuvenating properties. Since the twelfth century, it has been used for medicinal purposes, but in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was used to color cheese. To prove that it’s more than versatile, calendula can also be used as colorant in food, fabrics, and cosmetics. The more popular products are the calendula cream, calendula gel, calendula lotion and calendula ointment.
Calendula is rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, and vitamin C. Antioxidants are substances that can prevent cell damage and lower the risk of getting certain diseases. Antioxidants are needed by the body to neutralise unstable molecules called ‘free radicals’ that have been linked to heart diseases, liver diseases, and cancer. Phytochemicals is an umbrella term for a variety of compounds all beneficial to the body. These compounds are responsible for healthier bones and eyes and a stronger immune system. Vitamin C is essential for the body to produce collagen. Lack of vitamin C in the body can lead to conditions like scurvy, where the person loses teeth, has weak bones, and bleeds easily.
Calendula is also used as a diuretic, or water pill, a substance to promote production of urine to help the body get rid of excess water and salt. It is often made into cleansing tea, too. Women use Calendula to alleviate the pains and discomfort from pre-menstrual syndrome or PMS and menopause. They also use it to cure breast tenderness.
Calendula also contains gamma linolenic acid or GLA, a fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, Calendula is used in treating disorders that are caused by swelling and inflammation. It can reduce joint pains and soreness people with arthritis.
Eating too much Calendula may slow down clotting of blood and increase risk of bruising and bleeding.
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