Perhaps one of the most revered formulations for skin care in natural medicine has been Calendula flower oil. Gentle and effective for children, the elderly, and everyone in-between, many generations have been mothered with the soft touch of this wonderful oil. At the same time, its use was rather limited; but now, Calendula essential oil has become available on a wide scale, allowing folks to make use of the recently elucidated VERY broad range of healing properties.
Healing from the Marigold Flower
Calendula flowers show off their antioxidant content with their deep red, orange and gold colors. The plants are a type of Marigold, commonly found in home gardens the world over. An oil infusion of the flowers, made by simply soaking the flowers in a "fixed" oil (like Almond or Jojoba oil) for up to several months. This infusion has been an exceptionally popular, if hard to come by, ingredient in skin care recipes, especially for infants and toddlers. Anyone prone to skin irritation would benefit from application of this very soothing oil. However, the infused oil has been generally difficult to find, and limits one to the oils included in any recipe. By using the Calendula essential oil in small concentrations, any carrier, with specific desired therapeutic properties can be used.
The Healing Potential of the New Calendula Extract
With an essential oil of Calendula finally available, great flexibility of formulation has been afforded to the home user. This oil is often noted as Calendula CO2, indicating the use of pressurized carbon dioxide (the natural gas which becomes liquid at high pressures) used for extraction of the active constituents of the flowers. The product of this new extraction process has been the subject of MANY scientific inquiries, available through pubmed.gov, the database of the National Institute of Health. A search for "Calendula" currently produces 195 results, with abstracts published in peer-reviewed journals around the world.
The Data Is In: Calendula Has A Wide Range of Therapeutic Activity
The research focuses on several of Calendula's healing properties. Scientists have investigated the following effects of Calendula: an increased rate of wound healing, treatment of radiation burns from chemotherapy, powerful antioxidant activity, inflammation reduction, liver protection, plus anti-parasitic, antibacterial, antiviral, antispasmodic and even anti-tumorial effects. Most of the conclusions of these studies straightforwardly hail the healing effects of Calendula; in Volume 20, 2009 Journal of Basic Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology, Indian scientists note "The data indicate potent wound healing activity of Calendula officinalis extract". Other researchers concluded in the 2009 Indian Journal of Experimental Biology: "Results suggest a protective role of the flower extract of C. officinalis against...hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity) and cisplatin induced nephrotoxicity (kidney toxicity)...has been found to contain several carotenoids of which lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene predominate...action of the flower extract may be due to its antioxidant activity". One can read a great many of these studies coming to the same conclusions -- that Calendula extract (ie. the CO2 essential oil) has nearly miraculous healing powers. So then, how to use it? Let's have a look at some classic methods.
Making Healing Recipes at Home
Simply adding a few drops of Calendula essential oil to topical wound healing and pain relief formulas is the most simple means. Calendula will synergize with essential oils such as Helichrysum, Lavender and Tea Tree depending on your needs. For wound healing, with the possibility of scar and hematoma reduction, try 5% Helichrysum, 3% Calendula, 3% Lavender and 3% Tea Tree in a base of virgin Tamanu and Coconut oils. This formula can prevent infection, sooth the injury, and speed the overall healing process. For joint and muscle pain, or injuries to muscles and connective tissue, increase the amount of Helichrysum essential oil to up to 25%, and use 5% Calendula in any carrier oil as a base. Helichrysum is known to be very effective at relieving pain and reducing inflammation, as is Calendula -- the two together may provide an even more profound healing effect for many people. Calendula's profound antioxidant activity make it a first choice for beauty care preparations as well, as its radical-scavenging activity will likely prevent premature skin aging.
Using Your Feet to Protect Your Organs
Calendula's organ-protective effects can be utilized by applying the essential oil to the feet, which are highly receptive to the energetics of essential oils. The liver and kidney points are directly behind the ball of the foot, at the front of the arch. One can make one ounce of an organ-supportive blend by using 3 milliliters of Calendula, 1 and 1/2 milliliters each of Helichrysum italicum, Blue Tansy and Carrot Seed essential oils in organic Coconut. Regular massage in the area described with this blend is intended to 'clear' these organs and support their healthy function. With further dilution, this formula can be massaged in the low back and abdomen for further therapeutic support.
Calendula Extract: Generally Recognized as Safe
Calendula extract is also safe for internal ingestion, listed as GRAS, or Generally Recognized as Safe by the FDA. A few drops can be ingested daily for simple antioxidant support, and the oil, while not particularly flavorful (tastes like strong green/orange flowers), can be ingested without dilution (unlike other 'hotter' essential oils). For more complete antioxidant protection from essential oils that are 'GRAS', consider Sea Buckthorn CO2 (3 drops daily, a nicer flavor) and Clove CO2 (1 drop daily -- this is a 'hot' oil and will require dilution in warm water or olive oil). Ingestion of Carrot Seed, 1 drop daily, is recommended in the aromatherapy literature for liver support. The oils can be dropped in a en empty cellulose capsule and easily ingested this way. Ingestion also provides a means of utilizing the organ support offered by Calendula; while protocols are developed for human use, low dosages such as these are considered both safe and therapeutic by aromatherapy professionals.
Calendula: Now One of the Most Highly Regarded Natural Medicines
Calendula is a profoundly-healing plant, with both great historical AND scientific backing supporting its use. The most obvious and easy use of the essential oil is for treatment of skin irritation and wound healing of all varieties. Calendula synergizes with Helichrysum essential oil to speed wound healing, reduce inflammation, and provide support for injuries to the musculoskeletal system (painful joints, muscles, tendons and the like). Calendula extract has also been noted by researchers as protective for the liver and kidneys, and has other protective effects for nearly every aspect of our physiology. The extract can be safely ingested in small amounts, offering a range of supportive activity. You'll readily find Calendula CO2 essential oil on websites offering therapeutic grade essential oils -- look for one that's described as a thick liquid rather than a paste, as it will be easier to work with for all needs. If these effects of Calendula seem like something you or your family members could use, its long history of medicinal use, along with scientific validation, make it a worthwhile product to investigate further.