Marigold is valued today as a homeopathic remedy, but the oil extracted from the flowers, called calendula oil, is not far behind in boosting your health. Learn more about this oil distilled from the petals of the pot marigold or Calendula officinalis, and how you can harness its health benefits and practical everyday uses.
What Is Calendula Oil?
Marigold is a genus of about 15 to 20 species of plants in the Asteraceae family. This flower is native to Southwestern Asia, as well as Western Europe and the Mediterranean. The common name “marigold” refers to the Virgin Mary, with whom it has been associated since the 14th century when it was included as an ingredient in an English recipe for fighting the plague.
Apart from being used to honor the Virgin Mary, marigold was also considered by ancient Egyptians to have rejuvenating properties. Hindus also used the flowers to decorate their temples.
Pot marigold, or C. officinalis, is the most commonly cultivated and used species and is the source of the herbal oil. “Calendula” comes from the Latin word “calendar,” meaning “little calendar,” because the flower can bloom in every month of the year (in warmer climates).
Pot marigolds should not be confused with ornamental marigolds of the Targets genus, commonly grown in vegetable gardens. Calendula, with fiery orange and yellow petals, is home to flavonoids that are found naturally in other vegetables and fruits, and these very substances give plants their lovely, bright colors.
Calendula oil is typically made by macerating marigold flowers, and the resulting product is quite sticky. According to “The Culinary Herbal: Growing and Preserving 97 Flavorful Herbs,” marigold flowers tend to smell honey-like, slightly spicy, woody and bitter, and this scent may transfer onto the essential oil.
Uses of Calendula Oil
Here are three classifications of calendula plant and oil uses:
- Health and wellness — Calendula has tonic, sudorific, emmenagogue, and antispasmodic properties, but it is mainly used for skincare and treatment.
Calendula oil has anti-inflammatory abilities, making it helpful in addressing stubborn wounds, acne, ulcers, bedsores, varicose veins, rashes, eczema, and related conditions. It helps soothe sore, inflamed and itchy skin conditions, and also assists in soothing skin, making it a good addition to massage oils or when preparing a carrier oil blend.
- Cooking — Since the Middle Ages, the petals of marigold have been used as “the poor man’s saffron” for coloring cheeses, butter, and side dishes. Meanwhile, the petals flavored soups and stews.
- Practical uses — Marigold has been used as a dye. Dried petals can also be added to potpourris.
Calendula oil is also added to various products, oftentimes as a base for lotions, creams, ointments, salves, and personal care items.