Calendula (Calendula officinalis) or pot marigold is a liver-friendly flowering herb with a large reserve of antioxidants. It supplies the liver with more glutathione, an antioxidant required in the second phase of detoxification in the liver as well as in preventing liver cell damage due to free radicals generated during the detox process. The antioxidant-rich flower may also heal wounds faster by increasing nutrient flow to the site of the injury and helping lower inflammation.
Calendula is native to Southern Europe. It is grown in temperate regions across the world. Traditionally, the bright yellow petals of the flower have been used for digestive disorders and minor skin problems like cuts and wounds as well as fungal infections like ringworm, thrush, and athlete’s foot.
The flower contains a large number of antioxidants, including carotenoids like flavoxanthin, lutein, rubixanthin, β-carotene, g-carotene, and lycopene which give it its color. It also contains volatile oil, including pulegone, menthone, and diosphenol. Other chemicals include terpenoids, coumarins, and amino acids.
Why It’s So Great
1. Helps with Detoxification
Every detox drink or routine aims at improving the detox efficiency of the liver. Calendula could help your liver in a similar way.
Since the liver is always comes under fire from free radicals generated during the process of detoxification, it needs a steady supply of antioxidants like glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase. Among these, glutathione is also needed in the second phase of detoxification in the liver, where it binds with toxins isolated in the first phase. Calendula chemicals help increase glutathione in the blood and the liver. They also increase catalase and glutathione reductase, an enzyme that makes glutathione available in its (reduced) antioxidant state.
2. Helps with Wound Healing
Calendula has been seen to increase wound healing. In animal studies, wounds treated with calendula showed an increase in two chemicals called hydroxyproline and hexosamine.
Hydroxyprolines make up collagen, the protein that gives skin its strength. Hexosamines give stability to the collagen. Put simply, both of these are increased when the wound is healing fast.
Calendula chemicals supposedly increase blood flow to the site of injury so that more oxygen and nutrients are available for faster tissue regrowth. The flavonoids in the flower control the inflammation (normal immune response to injury) as well as protect against infection due to microbes or other foreign agents.
Calendula can be eaten raw. You can simply pluck off the petals, wash them thoroughly, and add them to salads or soups. In small amounts, they can also be used to color food without altering the flavor.
You could also make a tea with dried calendula petals. Add a cup of hot water to a teaspoon of petals.
Calendula oil and ointment are used to heal cuts and grazes, speed up wound healing, and provide hydration to the skin.
There’s no known upper limit for calendula. Go with whatever is comfortable for you. But avoid calendula if you have an allergy to other flowers like ragweed, marigold, daisy, and chrysanthemum.