Calendula is a flower with an annual life cycle that grows in the countries of the northern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It also designates a genus from the Asteraceae family that includes between 15 and 20 related plant species.
The flower's name comes from its tendency to bloom once per month or with every new moon, with a regular frequency linked to the calendar. It is also known as the "marigold", since it has been associated since the 14th century with Virgin Mary.
The flower has been used since ancient times, for example the Egyptians were aware of its rejuvenating effects. It had religious importance in Hindu areas, being used in temples to decorate the statues of the gods. It was also used by the Hindus as a colorant for cosmetics, food and fabrics and even cheese, until the 18th and 19th century. The flower is edible and provides color and flavour to numerous dishes, such as rice, soups or recipes based on cereals. The petals have a very attractive color and can be added to salads to improve their aspect. It was also known and used in America, where doctors were aware of its medical properties until about 70 years ago. It was employed to treat many conditions, such as cuts, scrapes, bruises, burns, other skin infections, amenorrhea, conjunctivitis and fever.
C. officinalis is the most useful of all Calendula species and it is cultivated in order to serve as raw material for the extraction of essential oil.
The flower has petals with vivid red and yellow color. These show the high content of flavonoids, the compounds that make plants so colourful. These are natural compounds found as pigments in fruits and vegetables as well.
The essential oil can't be extracted through pressing and is only produced by steam distillation. The flower petals are harvested and then steeped in olive oil or an equivalent product and then the mixture is infused. At the end of distillation, the remaining product is calendula oil. If extracted correctly, the oil has a very interesting color, between orange and golden.
The oil preserves the very strange smell of the flowers. Some people consider it very unpleasant and it has been described as rotten, woody or musky. Calendula oil has a viscous texture and can be very sticky.
Calendula oil provides many benefits but is especially used to treat sensitive skin. Its soothing properties make it extremely popular for people with such a skin type. Calendula oil is extremely effective in the treatment of skin that is cracked or extremely dry. It is also able to cure skin rashes, open wounds, inflammation or burns. The oil is a great natural counter for various skin infections, due to its effects as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-fungal.
These properties make calendula oil a useful ingredient in many types of products. It can be the base of natural cosmetic products, herbal ointments as well as commercial creams, salves and lotions. It is often found in aromatherapy as the base oil of choice.
The skin of every person is unique, with its own characteristics. Dry and oily skin are not the only possibilities, since some people can actually have a mix of both. For example, your skin can be oily only in the summer but turn dry during the cold winter months. This is where calendula oil is the most effective, since it is an excellent moisturizer for dry skin. Its natural hydrating properties are very valuable even if your skin is not too dry.
Dry skin is a problem for many people and can lead to cracks and splits on its surface. This can be very painful and cause serious psychological stress due to the way skin looks. Calendula oil is one of the most effective natural remedies for cracked skin, since it can reduce the pain and speed up regeneration in the area.
The oil also has strong effects, when applied externally. It quickly treats swollen muscles and bruises and is a great choice for various injuries that lead to inflammation and redness.
Infants are very vulnerable to various skin problems because they are very sensitive and don't have all the normal defence mechanisms in place yet. One of the most common types of irritation is the so-called diaper rash. Calendula oil is one of the best options to cure this skin issue.
Calendula oil is able to kill most types of pathogens and at the same time allow open wound and cuts to heal up faster than normal. This is true for all types of skin problems, such as acne, insect stings or even bed sores. The oil is also an excellent remedy for a wide range of skin diseases like psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis and some auto-immune conditions. These disorders cause severe inflammation at skin level, which is effectively countered by some compounds found in the oil. Calendula oil is also known for its anti-fungal effect so it can treat ringworm, athlete's foot, jock itch and similar problems.
The oil's anti-inflammatory action is also valuable against other diseases, for example varicose veins, chilblains, spider veins or leg ulcers. Chilblains is a condition triggered by exposure to severe cold and moisture. It causes serious pain and makes hands and feet swell up considerably as the body struggles to cope with the conditions.
Calendula oils also increase the production of collagen in the skin. This is one of its main building blocks and an increased supply of collagen reduces the risk that scar tissue will form. As a purely natural product with no known side effects, calendula oil is considered one of the best treatment options for a wide range of skin problems. Including it in your daily care habits can maintain the skin healthy for a longer time.