Calendula is an herb close to my heart. It is in almost every single product The Dancing Herbalist currently makes. You can extract calendula into water, alcohol, or an oil and all will have very similar effects. Topically, calendula has two main effects, a wound healer and antiinflammatory herb. My favorite story of calendula as a wound healer happened this last summer. A gentleman was at my booth and had a cut on the back of his hand. I suggested he try our lemongrass calendula cream which is packed full of calendula oil and tincture. 10 minutes later he came back to me and said, ‘Is this really supposed to heal this fast? I can already see it healing!’ When used in high concentrations calendula can heal wounds quite quickly.
As an antiinflammatory calendula works similarly topically as it does when it is taken as a tea or a tincture. There are a variety of different ways herbs can work to reduce inflammation. Calendula works through the same path as most over the counter drugs. When our body becomes inflamed it is due to a stimuli of some sort that promotes our body to produce inflammatory cytokines. Calendula reduces the production of these cytokines, lowering inflammation at the source. It does not however get rid of the original stimuli so remember to look for that and remove that as well. This inflammation may be due to injury, allergens, or other irritation.
Internal uses of calendula include tonifying the veins, arteries, and capillaries, supporting the healing of old ulcers, and as a tonic for the spleen and liver when congested. The most common of these is probably the use for liver congestion.
Our livers detoxify most of our bodies systems one way or another through the blood stream and they also process all of the nutrients and macromolecules we digest. The reason we tend to need to heal congestion of our livers is because they are now exposed to many molecules they would not have evolved to interact with at the quantities we experience. These include but are not limited to supplemental and environmental hormones, toxins from cleaning supplies, paints, and other household materials, exhaust and ozone deteriorating substances, and the pesticides and herbicides used on our foods. Our livers did not develop to clean these out of our system they way they are forced to and so they can become ‘stuck.’ It is here where we can use calendula to help tonify and clear out the liver as well as strengthening its associated circulation.
In many different folk traditions there is a strong connection between the liver and the skin. It is not uncommon that when an individual is experiencing liver congestion of this sort that they will show skin symptoms as well. These skin symptoms can become exacerbated when the liver starts to clear out when taking liver clearing herbs like calendula, burdock root, and dandelion root. It is excellent to then use calendula both internally and topically to support the healing of these two interconnected systems at once with the same wonderful herb.
Be sure to subscribe to learn more about calendula next week and be sure to check out our website where we have free herbal classes including one on detoxification.