Caring Calendula: The health and wellbeing benefits of Calendula
From the bright orange ‘Indian Prince,’ to the softer apricot ‘Sunset Buff’ and mellow yellow ‘Lemon Zest’, Calendula officinalis are immediately recognisable for their vibrant, daisylike petals. More commonly known as pot marigolds, they’re among the easiest flowers to grow and – though native to Southern Europe – their cheerful and hardy nature has seen them gain favour across the globe. Best sown between March and April, marigolds will return year after year, come rain, snow or shine.
They’re much loved by our precious pollinators and bring a welcome splash of colour to any garden. A word of warning for those looking to grow C.officinalis, however. They’re very efficient self-seeders, so be careful to weed occasionally to prevent a marigold mutiny.
Not blessed with green fingers? Not to worry, the mighty marigold is far from just a pretty face. In fact, this bright botanical has a number of wellbeing benefits we can all enjoy.
Gingivitis is a common condition caused by an excessive build-up of plaque. In fact, with symptoms including sore, swollen gums that bleed when they are brushed, the NHS advises that most adults in the UK are afflicted by this condition to some degree. A 2013 study, however, has shown that rinsing the mouth with diluted calendula tincture twice daily can help to combat the all-too-common ailment. When compared with a plain-water placebo, the use of calendula mouthwash resulted in a statistically significant improvement in oral hygiene, including a marked reduction in plaque and gum inflammation.
Try this: To replicate the calendula mouthwash used in the study, simply dilute one part calendula tincture with three parts water.
Since Ancient Greece, calendula has been used to treat skin ailments as varied as healing wounds (marigolds were famously used as an antiseptic during World War One) to soothing nappy rash. In fact, studies have shown marigolds have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties to rival that of aloe vera. As warmer weather approaches, we can rely upon C.officinalis to soothe sunburnt skin and calm furiously itchy insect bites.
Try this: For an anti-inflammatory skin booster, add a couple of drops of calendula oil to your favourite body cream.
A floral feast
Pot marigold petals are edible and are an easy and colourful garnish for livening up salads and soups. Particularly suited to sweeter dishes, these flowers have a peppery and somewhat bitter flavour. The bright pigment in the petals can also be used to add a golden hue to rice dishes in lieu of the considerably more expensive saffron. In fact, the name ‘pot’ marigold is derived from a German tradition of adding the orange petals into stews and casseroles to improve the colour.
Try this: For those with hens at home, adding handfuls of petals to chicken feed can result in more vibrant yolks.
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