CALENDULA – CALENDULA OFFICINALIS.
Calendula is a plant native to the Mediterranean region (possibly from Egypt) and is widely distributed throughout the world as an ornamental plant. It tolerates all types of soils, preferably clayey, hence it is widely used in flowerbeds and urban gardens.
The name Calendula goes back to the Latin «Kalendae», the first day of the month for the Romans, since it is one of the plants that blooms during more months of the year.
Despite its etymology, it became known as «solquenium» because it follows the sun, just like sunflowers.
Some authors place its origin in Mexico, where the Aztecs attributed to it spiritual-medicinal properties and that with time its seeds were transferred to Spain.
As a medicinal plant it began to be mentioned in the twelfth century and in 1552 in the «Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbi» we find the first written reference. Later in 1583 Rember Doaeus, one of the most outstanding botanists of the Renaissance in his «Stirpium historiae» said of it: «It has pleasant, bright yellow to orange flowers that close at sunset» In England the pharmacist, physicist and astrologer Nicholas Culpeper (1660-1738) recommended it to strengthen the heart. At the beginning of 1753 Linnaeus classified it in the «Species plantorum» and made reference to the periodicity of opening of its flowers. During the XVIII and XIX century it was one of the most esteemed plants for the cure of numerous diseases and the apothecaries must have had large quantities for the elaboration of formulas.
During 1960-1970, studies on the use of Calendula intensified notably, using it for the treatment of skin disorders, pain and also as a bactericide, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
USES OF CALENDULA
The medicinal and coloring virtues of calendula have been known since ancient times, especially by the Arabs and Hindus, and later cultivated by the Greeks.
The use of its flower heads, fresh or dried, as well as in the form of herbal teas, decoctions, ointments or creams, have attributed to Calendula a wide spectrum of healing properties, many of them scientifically proven throughout history and others more current are part of more advanced research.
Calendula has been used topically for many years for skin ulcers, infected wounds, diaper rash, eczema, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, acne and even periodontopathies and conjunctivitis.
In the field of cosmetics, we find it as an active ingredient in countless formulations due to its anti-inflammatory effect and its moisturizing and healing power.
It is an annual herbaceous aromatic plant, belonging to the Asteraceae family (Compositae), characterized by a height of about half a meter (30-50 cm).
The root is long, cylindrical, with hairs and pale yellow. Its stems are semi-erect and branched. Its leaves are oblong-lanceolate, hairy on both sides, 5 to 15 cm long and toothed margins. The inflorescences are thick capitula (3-8 cm) surrounded by two rows of hairy bracts.
The tubular, hermaphrodite central flowers are generally of a more intense orange-yellow color than the peripheral female flowers, which have a tridentate ligule. The flower heads appear during most of the year, follow the sun during the day and close at night. Sometimes the plant is prolific from the involucre, and bears several pedunculate heads in a circle.