Calendula is a plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family and can often be seen in Bulgaria adorning yards and gardens with its characteristic bright yellow-orange flowers, but it is far from being just a decorative flower. Its flower heads, stem and leaves are widely used in various fields ranging from cooking to medicine, where calendula (a.k.a marigold) is known for its antiseptic, antifungal, diaphoretic and stimulant effect.
Calendula originates from Southern Europe and the Mediterranean in particular, but it has quickly spread and adapted in other world regions with temperate climates. As a result, however, many cultivars have been created by a completely different plant and should not be confused with the original marigold (Latin name: Calendula officinalis).
The original marigold is an annual plant that has pale-green long and bristly leaves and bright yellow or orange flowers that bloom repeatedly for months: from June to October, which is actually the reason for its Bulgarian name, which literally means “doesn’t fade”. The plant reaches 30 to 60cmin height. The calendula flowers have a spicy taste and are often used as a substitute for saffron in cooking. Thanks to its strong aroma the herb attracts bees and circling flies that feed on aphids and, thus, cleanse other crops in the garden of these pests. Calendula is also great in weather forecasting – if in early morning the flowers are closed, it will rain during the day.
As it can be seen marigold is very widely used, but its curative properties are what makes it truly useful and valuable to people. Today it is used principally for the relief of various inflammations, stings of bees, or wasps (fresh flower can be rubbed onto the affected area), as well as for wound healing, due to the antiseptic effect and its ability to improve circulation. Furthermore, it has been proved that calendula ointment has a favorable effect on skin problems: from varicose ulcers to eczema. Infusion of calendula treats stomach ulcers and spasms, colitis and helps with diarrhea, fever, abscesses, and persistent vomiting. In case of bruises, sprain, stretched muscles, injuries, and boils ointment or diluted tincture of calendula has strong mitigation action. The healing properties of marigold can help also in the case of acne, rashes, painful menstruation, varicose veins, burns, and recovery after radiation therapy.
In cosmetics it is used in the manufacture of shampoos, conditioners, creams, and more.
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