Source of Light: Calendula
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a beloved herb of the sun and the golden flowers of the plant will turn their faces towards the bright day orb as it travels across the sky. Held in high esteem by herbalists throughout the ages as an especially healing herb, Calendula has a brightening power on the heart and is lifting to the spirit. Calendula is a busy healing helper driven by the sweet sorrow of knowing someone you love does not feel well and ever seeking to provide relief. As an herb of enchantment, Calendula was said to protect against all forms of evil influences (including the plague which is no surprise given its anti-viral properties) and even able to reveal the identity of the person who had robbed you if worn. Placed in a bath, Calendula will win you the respect of everyone you meet and there is even a curious myth that touching the petals to your feet will allow you to understand the language of the birds.
If you or someone you know is feeling a bit under in the weather in a literal sense - they feel damp, sluggish, slow to heal, and like they are living beneath a cloud - Calendula might be the herb to befriend.
As an anti-inflammatory and herb, Calendula can be used internally to treat digestive disorders, such as indigestion, irritation of the intestines and bowels, diarrhea, and helps to regulate inflammation. It actually increases digestive enzymes and the production of bile in the body. Topically, Calendula is found in many healing salves because along with being anti-inflammatory, it is also anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and speeds healing process by promoting tissue repair. It is also known to reduce scarring.
Calendula is stimulating to a sluggish immune system, helping to promote circulation, relieve congestion, and support the work of our liver and gall-bladder. Used for colds, the flu, and infections like the herpes virus, these bright flowers fight ear infections and athlete's foot when prepared as an herbal oil, relieve sinus infections as a nasal wash, and treat conjunctivitis as an eyewash.
Bringing on delayed menstruation and easing menstrual cramps are some of the ways Calendula pays particular attention to women's bodies. It is also effective in treatments of uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, excessive bleeding, and general uterine congestion. Especially good for those women who feel overly damp and drowning a bit in the emotional currents of menstruation and menopause - the brightness of Calendula will help to dry out overly saturated emotional states and bring light to an overcast situation.
Besides mixing Calendula into tea blends, one of the simplest ways I use Calendula is as a compress for cuts and burns. I recently used crushed petals that I mixed with a bit of warm water on a cut on an upper lip. The cut healed quickly and though it was deep it has a very slight scar that is continuing to fade. I recommend keeping a few tea bags of Calendula about the house, in your bike basket or bag to apply to cuts, burns, stings, rashes, and other skin complaints. We'll discuss using Calendula in salves and herbal oils in later postings!