A Look At Calendula Officinalis: Data and Applications of the Oil

by

Infused Calendula oil has long been used as a component of natural skin care preparations for its special soothing properties. The oil of the flowers had not been available as an essential oil for most of its history, as the flowers had been too delicate to process in the typical steam distillation process. With the recent introduction of the Supercritical cold-extraction process, a concentrated Calendula CO2 essential oil is now readily available, making it very easy to include this wonderful concentrated in any skin care and wound healing recipe. This new Calendula extract has been the subject of much research over the last several years, confirming its nearly miraculous regenerative, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions — further encouraging its use for natural skin care products, whether purchased already blended or for you to make a personal formula at home.

Calendula Flowers: Nature’s Gentle Healer

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.

New Methods Offer Easy-To-Use Essential Oil

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.

A Summary of the Research

The researchers, prompted by the great historical use of this flower as medicine, have investigated a great many of its healing properties. These include the speeding of wound healing, potent anti-inflammatory action, strong anti-oxidant activity, and a myriad of protective effects to various organs. The research notes that the extract actually increases the speed at which skin cells form, has uniquely strong antioxidant activity due to the red and orange pigmentation, and prevents damage to the liver and kidneys when they’re exposed to toxic chemicals. The conclusions of these studies indicate quite clearly the efficacy of the flower extract in a wide variety of applications. So how can we make use of this oil?

Making Healing Recipes at Home

The easiest uses of Calendula essential oil will be in externally-applied topical formulas. Simply include a few drops per ounce of your recipe. For example, an excellent wound-healing AND anti-inflammatory blend could be made with 3 milliliters of Helichrysum italicum essential oil (a profound wound-healing and pain relieving essential oil) and 1 milliliter Calendula essential oil in a base of equal parts Tamanu, Coconut and Rosehip seed oils. This would be useful for treatment of wounds after accidents or surgery (while it should not be applied directly to open wounds — around the open area would be fine). A stronger formula would be useful for deep tissue injuries, like sports injuries, muscle strains, sprains and the like. Use up to 25% Helichrysum and 5% Calendula in a simple base of pure Jojoba oil, massaging into painful areas up to 3 times daily. This type of formula utilizes the strong anti-inflammatory action of Helichrysum along with the wound healing and antioxidant effects of Calendula to speed healing and relieve pain of connective-tissue damage. Calendula is safe for use with both children and the elderly, though the overall concentrations of these formulas should be reduced accordingly depending on the age group (there are many online references for essential oil concentrations with different age groups). Beyond wound healing, simply antioxidant activity in skin preparations will limit free-radical damage that is often associated with skin aging, making Calendula a great ingredient in every beauty-care recipe.

Liver and Kidney Protection Through Reflexology

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.

An Excellent Safety Profile

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.

Conclusion: Calendula Essential Oil is Worth A Look!

The flowers of the Calendula plant have an exceptionally rich history of medicinal, therapeutic use — backed by a large amount of scientific data. This data elucidates the mechanisms for the medicinal actions, and allows us to make better use of Calendula extract than ever before. Calendula essential oil has such a wide range of healing properties that it really deserves a place in everyone’s natural home care kit. It is safe for use with children and elderly, and addresses many of their common ailments. The essential oil is exceptionally easy to use, and could even be blended into preparations you may already have on hand. For all its beauty (the flower) and its healing potential (the extract) Calendula officinalis is certainly worth a closer look.

The author is a regular contributor to natural ezines on essential oils and aromatherapy. She may be contacted through www.anandaapothecary.com/essential-oils.html.

  

   

Recommendations For You: