Calendula, which is also known as a marigold, has been utilized for medicine for several hundreds years. Since the 12th century, physicians have been studying the medicinal value of this plant, and throughout this time calendula has been used to treat a wide variety of ailments; however, what exactly is this plant, and does it actually help relieve certain health problems?
To understand this plant, you must first realize where it comes from and what compounds are found within it. Calendula is originally from the Mediterranean region; however, it is commonly found growing throughout the world in modern times. Used as an ornamental plant, this plant may even be found within your home.
The calendula is a annual plant, which can grow in practically any type of soil; however, it thrives in soil found within the United States, Europe and Western Asia. This plant can grow up to 60 cm tall, and it features flowers with an orange hue. These flowers are where the plant contains its most active compounds used for medical purposes.
Calendula flowerheads contain a large amount of antioxidants, or flavonoids, which help protect the body’s cells from damage of free radicals. Free radicals attack cells at the DNA level, which can alter their structure and cause ailments such as cancer, high blood pressure as well as other severe and sometimes life-threatening ailments. Researchers have studied this plant as it appears it features antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.
Some of the most popular reasons people use calendula is to help relieve stomach ulcers, nausea and cramps due to menstruation. While these are traditional uses, there is current little evidence found by scientists to prove that these ailments can be effectively treated with calendula.
While there are many uses of this plant that remain in folk medicine, modern medicine has adopted this plant to help expedite the healing process for external wounds. It is suggested that when calendula is applied topically to a wound it helps speed up the recovery period as it increases the amount of blood flow to the area.
To utilize calendula for external use (topical application) purchase an ointment with at least two percent (and up to 5 percent) calendula, and apply directly to the affected area up to four times per day. Another common way to benefit from calendula is to purchase ear drops with calendula extracts to help treat ear infections. This is a common remedy for children, and while there are no known side effects of using calendula for ear infections, speak with your doctor before using to determine if this is a safe remedy for you.