Calendula is sort of a wildflower cousin of the little French Marigold. I've always liked the vivid gold and russetts in my little marigolds. Yet I had no idea there is a family of flowers. Marigolds are edible in salads, and calendula is so beneficial to us for skin conditions, so I make ointments out of it.
Some years ago, Dad bought a box of seeds at an auction, most of them unlabeled. I sowed a number and watched to see what would come up. Nothing seemed to come up in those particular rows the first year, so I thought the seed had been too old, or useless. However, the following year, in that area of the garden, a whole crowd of new plants came up. Dad weeded some out but when I saw that they had nice golden orange flowers, I urged him to leave them alone until I found out what they were and if they might be good for anything.
I checked on the internet until I found descriptions and photos of calendula that matched what we had in the garden. "Look at this, Dad!" I crowed. "I can make an ointment from these plants and it will be healing for all kinds of problems." Dad gave in, but kept reminding me that I was going to harvest them, until the fall when I suddenly had to make time to do it. A frost was coming, and Dad wanted to rotortill the garden. I spent an evening, cutting several large pails full, and then bringing them in, to wash in the kitchen sink, and spread on quickly-rigged racks in the basement to dry.
On the internet I'd found several recipes for the ointment and a native friend also gave me advice on the procedure and ingredients required. I used a double boiler with water in the lower pot, and olive oil and shaved bees wax in the upper one. When the wax was dissolved over medium heat, I crumbled into the mix several hands full of my dried calendula leaves. (I tried another batch with fresh leaves, but that brought water droplets into the mix and that batch soon smelled bad). Per directions, I set the covered pot out in the garage overnight to cool, and for the goodness of the calendula leaves to draw into the wax and oil. The next day I warmed the pot up again, just long enough to melt the wax once more and make it pourable. Using a small wire mesh strainer, I took out the leaves and then carefully poured the light green wax mixture into small jars and even film cannisters for samples to share with friends.
That Christmas I had little gifts to give with my own ointment label! Before long I got emails from some asking for more and sharing how it was making a difference for them.
All this intrigued me enough to do more research into calendula. It is a great blood cleanser, stimulates circulation and heals wounds. The ointment is especially good for relief from varicose veins, phlebitis, fisstulas, frost bites and burns. Though Arnica is similar to a degree, that herb is not good for folks with heart trouble. Calendula, on the other hand, has no such restriction. It is safe.
It is perfect for athlete's foot and fungus infections around the genitals. (For the latter, you use several hands full of calendula in a sitz bath). As a tincture diluted with boiled water, it is great for wounds, bruises, sprains, and festering sores like bedsores and ulcers and swellings.
As a tea, it works to clear up gastro-intestinal disorders, stomach cramps and ulcers, plus it deals with dropsy and blood in the urine, especially virus infections. Hey, I've just been reading that it will even expel worms, and if you squeeze the juice out of the stems, you can be rid of warts and scabies!
I tell you, I'm almost afraid to report everything that I read it is good for, because you might think it's just a lot of talk and then you dump it all. But you know what, this is safe to try out and find for yourself what it will do. Last week I read that it will clear up scabs in the nose, and I rembered that I haven't tried my ointment there yet. I have long wakened in the mornings with dried blood scabs in my nostrils. Now I don't have to live with that any longer! After just three to four days use, the problem is gone!
Infusion: I heaping teaspoon to I cup of water.
Sitz bath: Two double hands full of fresh or dried calendula.
Fresh Juice: Wash the leaves and stems and flowers, and while still wet, push them through your juice extractor, or Vita Mixer.
Ointment: Rinse, and dry the leaves, stems, and flowers by spreading them on wax paper (a fan blowing in the room helps). When all brittle and dry, crumble the plant parts as fine as you like it. Use a double-boiler on the stove, with water in the lower pot, and 1/4 a cup of olive oil, with 1/2 a cup of beeswax shavings. Drop hands full of the dried calendula in until it appears you can't soak much more. Heat gently until the the plant parts are quite limp and absorbing lots of the oil/wax. Then set it aside to continue absorbing - even overnight. Bring back on the stove the next day and heat just long enough to dissolve the hardened wax to liquid state. Strain the plant matter out, and pour the remaining liquid ointment into clean jars with good tight lids.
You will find other recipes and may want to vary it until it comes out the way you like your calendula ointment best.
I've just discovered a delightful herbal book written and illustrated for children. You should go have a look at some of the pages too. Another site has a recipe using both calendula and plantain for a lip balm.
Others make soaps with calendula.
While I have Maria Treben's earlier book, "God's Pharmacy," I have found online that she has a newer edition out now called, "Health from God's Garden" (although that only has sample pages). I was pleased to find more sites in which Maria Treben shares her knowledge of many herbs and herbal remedies. Here's her calendula page. (Note: this site has changed from an information site to a sales site).