What is Calendula Essential Oil?
Calendula essential oil is that distilled from the tips of the flower, which is very sticky and viscous substance. Its color is greenish yellow and has a strange smell described as musky, woody and even rotten.
The aroma of calendula essence is strong; a not pleasant smell that is given by heterocyclic aromatic compounds, such as quinones and polyprenylquinones. These compounds assign antioxidant qualities to the essence to combat free radicals, prevent premature aging and some diseases.
Marygold plant, as it is also known, is native to Southwestern Asia, Western Europe and the Mediterranean. Calendula Officinalis, belongs to the Asteraceae family and only the orange flower variety is one that has medicinal properties.
Interesting Facts and Historical Uses of Calendula
Calendula gets its name from the Latin “calendae”, which means the first day of the month. According to the Roman calendar, the calendae meant the beginning of the cycle of the new moon, when it was said that the calendula flowers were in full bloom.
Formerly, calendulas had a religious significance in Catholicism, since it is related to a legend that dates back to the Middle Ages, in which it is said that its yellow-gold colored flowers, were associated with the Virgin Mary.
For this reason, they were sometimes used in religious ceremonies to decorate sacred spaces.
Saint Hildegard von Bingen was one of the first to record the use of marigolds in historical texts. As an herbalist and nun in Germany, she used the flower more than 1,000 years ago to treat patients.
Calendulas have also been prized in Ayurvedic medicine and today they are still widely grown around India, including large quantities, in the famous Valley of Flowers in the Ranthambore National Park.
Records show that petals and bouquets of marigold flower have been used in tinctures, extracts and ointments of folk medicine since the 11th and 12th century. Calendula petals have an intense color that some compare with saffron.
Besides, in antiquity it was also used as an economic coloring agent, as well as in soups or digestive tea, and/or as a perfume ingredient in some cases.
On the other hand, marigolds also have culinary decorative uses, such as food tinting products and adding color to salads or other dishes, since the petals are edible. Even farmers have added certain marigold-derived products to chicken feed so that the egg yolks have a darker yellow color or a more intense orange.
The bouquets come in chrome, copper, orange, yellow and bronze and can be dehydrated to make lasting floral arrangements that emit an odor for many months, helping to purify the air and keep pests away.
Chemical Composition of Calendula Essential Oil
It is said that in its chemical composition, calendula essential oil contains in its greater percentage Alpha-cardinol (25%).
The rest, is constituted by different organic compounds such as flavonoids, which among its functions for the plant, gives it a vibrant color and pleasant smell that serves to attract pollinating animals.
It also has triterpenoid saponins, such as triterpenes and carotenoids that give the flowers the yellow, orange or red color. Mucilago, that gives the viscous and sticky texture to the essence. Resin and polysaccharides, which are mixtures of various monosaccharides derived from different types of plants; and aromatic vegetable acids, linoleic acid, calendic acid, oleanolic acid glycosides, tocopherols and plant sterols known as phytosterol, among others.
How is Calendula Essential Oil Extracted?
To extract calendula essential oil there is more than one technique, these are:
- Hydrodistillation method
- Organic solvents method
- Enfleurage method
The method that provide the highest-quality oil (without pigments) is hydrodistillation, which also contain the highest amount of non-polar compounds but require a long time for processing.
On the other hand, organic solvent extraction and enfleurage are faster for processing, but their extracted oils contain pigments.
Enfleurage method, according to researchers, is the best method for reaching the highest oil performance, since this technique provided an oil yield higher than hydrodistillation and with less pigments than organic solvent extraction. In addition, oil obtained by enfleurage, contain the two main compounds in calendula flowers, α-cadinene and δ-cadinene.
Calendula oil can also be made at home, but with designation of carrier oil, since the method used for its elaboration does not manage to collect its essence in depth.
In this case, calendula essence is extracted by infusion method, in which vegetable oils are used to obtain the chemical substances and properties of the flower. Generally, the oils used for this infusion are olive oil, sunflower oil or almond oil.
Also, the flowers must go through the drying process, since in their natural content they are impregnated with water. In this way, the appearance of fungi or bacteria in the final preparation of the essence will be avoided.
After drying the flowers, they are immersed in a glass jar with the chosen oil for the maceration process, which lasts approximately four weeks.
It is important that the preparation is outdoors or in a place where it can absorb sunlight (natural heat) to protect the petals, in this way, the result will be a quality oil.
After four weeks, proceed to filter to separate the petals of the oil, and the final result is the calendula oil with all its properties and health benefits.
Properties of Calendula Essential Oil
The properties contained in the calendula oil are many, and its best use is through topical route.
Among its most important properties are: anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, emmenagogue, cholagogue, spasmodic, sedative, hypotensive, sudorific, gastric protector, vulnerary, hepatoprotective, depressant of the central nervous system and cardioprotective.
Uses of Calendula Essential Oil
Health and well-being
Although it has antispasmodic, tonic, sudorific and emmenagogue properties, calendula oil is used mainly for skin care. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it useful for wounds difficult to heal, acne, ulcers, varicose veins, allergies, dermatitis, skin rashes, eczema and other problems arising from skin inflammation.
It is also useful to relieve pain, swelling and redness caused by muscle spasms, muscle injuries or sprains; eye inflammation and itching caused by conjunctivitis; and fungal infections, including athlete’s foot, candidiasis, ear infections and ringworm.
It also helps to improve urogenital and respiratory tract diseases.
Calendula oil healthy, calms and softens the skin, which is an excellent complement to other massage oils.
In cosmetology it is an ingredient widely used in facial toners, as it provides a unique hydration to the skin, returning its natural gloss and rejuvenating the face.
Since middle ages, calendula petals have been used as “poor saffron” to color cheeses, butters and various dishes. Also, they are used to flavor and color soups and stews, among others.
Benefits of Calendula Essential Oil
Calendula Oil for Atopic Skin
Atopic skin is defined as a genetic and environmental condition that generates irritability and loss of natural skin hydration, making it vulnerable to environmental aggressions, which generates a greater probability of acquiring skin diseases.
The desquamation of outer skin layers, makes it susceptible to infections by fungi and bacteria. In addition, worsens allergic conditions, or actions as simple as rubbing with clothing, among others.
This condition generally affects children and to a lesser extent adults. The areas of greatest sensitivity are the face, knees, elbows, legs, buttocks, wrists (inner side) and neck.
This type of peeling diminishes and improves with the constant use of calendula essential oil, since the properties of its unsaturated fatty acids help to recover the lost hydration. On the other hand, thanks to its antifungal and antibacterial properties, dermal infections will be avoided.
Calendula oil is rich in vitamin A and E, providing the skin with the necessary nutrients for a deep regeneration.
An important feature of calendula oil is that due to its low or almost no toxicity, it allows a reliable use in children, which is a great benefit for atopic skin cases.
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Decreases and prevents wrinkles
Calendula oil activates the synthesis of collagen which acts as a kind of filler, increasing the volume of the skin to reduce wrinkles. In addition, it retards its appearance and holds together the cellular structure that forms the tissues.
It also participates nourishing skin cells and protecting it against free radicals, eliminating impurities and preventing inflammation.
This oil can increase its benefits in the skin by being blended with other oils such as rosehip oil, enhancing its anti-aging effect.
Relieves varicose veins and prevents its appearance
Varicose veins are the end result of conditions with blood circulation. This ailment is markedly improved with the use of calendula oil, since it has hypotensive effect that enhanced blood circulation and provides an increase in collagen and elastin production present in blood vessels to maintain its tonicity.
In addition, it promotes the proper functioning of venous valves and therefore, a better blood supply to the leg muscles, which leads to a remarkable state of physical well-being.
It works as a Natural Relaxant
The benefits of calendula oil over the Central Nervous System are very noticeable. This oil produces relaxation and sedation, which improves states of anxiety and panic. In addition, it regulates the circadian cycle (the hours of rest and sleep).
Decreases Inflammation and Damage caused by Free Radicals
Research indicates that active chemicals in the calendula make it a natural cytotoxic, hepatoprotective and spasmogenic agent. This fact has been demonstrated in experiments in both, animals and humans.
Also, it has been proven that calendula flower extracts decrease C-reactive protein and cytokine levels, and protect cells from being damaged by free radicals, one of the main causes of aging and cell deterioration.
Calendula, not only controls the oxidative damage of free radicals that can affect delicate tissues, such as those of the eyes; but also defend against skin infections, and gastrointestinal tract and genitals conditions caused by viruses or bacteria.
In addition, research also indicates that calendula helps fight the growth of bacteria in wounds, and may even be able to reduce the symptoms associated with chemotherapy and cancer treatments.
Reduces Eye Inflammation and Conjunctivitis
The findings of animal studies show that calendula extract is capable of treating conjunctivitis and other chronic ocular inflammatory conditions.
These extracts have demonstrated antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and immunostimulant properties that not only reduce eye infections, but also protect vision by taking care of the delicate tissues of the eyes from harmful ultraviolet light effects, deterioration, aging, and oxidative damage.
A well-documented use of calendula extract is to apply in the form of drops inside the ear canal, this helps treat bacterial ear infections and also decreases pain.
It has been proven that calendula oil drops can reduce swelling and inflammation of the inner ear in just a couple of days of use, even, in some cases, without the use of antibiotics.
Because of its fungal properties, calendula can also be used to treat inguinal ringworm, vaginitis and other vaginal infections.
Applying for four weeks, in the affected area of groin or genitals, an ointment or cream containing calendula oil, probiotics (such as Lactobacillus sporogenes) and lactic acid, can help reduce the symptoms of pain, itching, dryness and burning when urinating.
Heals Wounds, Burns and Skin Rashes
Formerly, and still today, one of the most popular uses of calendula has been its application on irritated skin to reduce itching, redness, sensitivity, dryness and swelling.
It has been found that calendula has the ability to promote healthy tissue growth, increase blood flow in the affected area and increase collagen production that strengthens the skin. In addition, it moisturizes dry skin, and accelerates skin repair process after surgery or damage.
It is believed that the ability of calendula to help treat wounds is due to stimulation of epithelial cell production. Mainly as a result of the presence of glycoproteins and nucleoproteins.
It is also related to the increase in cell renewal and to the improvement in the stimulation of collagen metabolism.
In folk medicine, calendula products were applied to various ulcerations (internal and external) and wounds to prevent infections, and even today, calendula essential oil is used after surgery to promote faster healing.
For people with dry, flaky or prone to rash skin, calendula oil can be combined with natural lubricants such as coconut oil or shea butter to improve skin hydration and firmness.
Additionally, calendula essential oil is used topically to:
- Reduces diaper rash and protect sensitive baby skin
- Decreases the appearance of depigmentation due to scarring
- Diminishes varicose veins, vascular spines, leg ulcers and chilblains
- Treats inflamed insect bites
- Heals burns
- Reduces dermatitis and eczema
- Removes bruises
- Heals infected cuts
- Relieves the skin after shaving
- Treats ingrown hairs
- Reduces dandruff on the scalp
- Diminishes various signs of poor blood flow and inflammation that affects the skin
Helps Reduce Hemorrhoidal Pain
Because calendula treatments can promote tissue healing and reduce swelling, it is believed that topical application in the anal or genital area, helps reduce symptoms of anal hemorrhoids or lacerations (also called anal fissures).
A study conducted on an animal, investigated the effects of calendula treatment on bleeding wounds. It was discovered that the use of the product for a period of eight days, resulted in almost 90% wound closure and tissue healing, compared to only 51% in those who had not used the treatment.
Relieves Stomach pain and Muscle spasm
The antispasmodic actions of calendula essential oil are beneficial in relieving muscle spasms, tendon cramps, stomach twisting and menstrual pains.
Calendula is able to reduce cramps by improving blood flow in the affected area and decreasing inflammatory responses.
The bouquets can be consumed as a tea to help facilitate internal digestion and improve liver health. Also, it can be applied on the abdomen in the form of ointment or massage oil, so that it is impregnated in the tense muscles through the skin.
Repels Insects Naturally
Because of its strong odor, antioxidant content and volatile oils, calendulas can be used to repel mosquitoes, pests and other insects.
This is one of the reasons why calendula flowers are commonly planted in orchards.
Calendula oil is added in candles, room sprays or insect repellent (especially in lotions to prevent mosquito bites).
It is also recommended to plant the flowers directly in patios or gardens to protect the earth. The aroma of flowers works underground to keep away nematodes (microscopic worms) and other pests that can eat the crops. Sometimes, the effect lasts for up to three years after being planted, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.
Calendula essential oil is also hypotensive and sudorific, so it is very useful in febrile states.
It also has beneficial gastric effects in case of gastritis, since it regulates the production of hydrochloric acid. In addition, it contributes between its chemical structure, minerals that are activated to protect liver and pancreas.
On the other hand, increases the functioning of the lymphatic system and therefore, the elimination of harmful toxins for the proper functioning of the body.
Besides, it protects the skin from external agents that could cause diseases.
Warnings and Precautions when Consuming Calendula Essential Oil
Calendula essential oil is known to be well tolerated, even for people with sensitive skin. However, its application should be avoided in case of allergy to ragweed, daisies, chrysanthemums, chamomile, echinacea and other plants in the same family as marigolds.
A good way to find out if there will be an allergic reaction, is to perform a patch test.
Pregnant and lactating women should avoid the use of calendula oil in the first trimester of pregnancy and in the first trimester of neonate. Either orally or topically. After this time, consult the doctor before consuming, as there is not enough information about the effects that calendula oil can cause at this stage.
In combination with medications used during and after surgery, the use of calendula oil may cause excessive drowsiness. For this reason, it is necessary to suspend its use at least two weeks before surgery.
By consuming calendula orally (including drops, liquid extract, tea, etc.), it is possible to experience interactions when combined with sedative medications.
Some people notice that calendula increases drowsiness, especially when combined with sleep medications, anxiolytics or tranquilizers. If you consume any of the following medications, consult your doctor before using calendula:
- Clonazepam (klonopin)
- Lorazepam (ativan)
- Phenobarbital (donnatal)
- Zolpidem (ambien)
Where to buy Calendula Essential Oil?
Usually, good quality oils, that is, 100% pure and not mixed with other substances, can be found in specialized natural herb stores.
If you can not reach a trusted naturist or herbalist shop near you, here are some recommendations:
- Calendula Essential Oil (CO2) from: Miracle Botanicals
- Organic Calendula Oil (Infused oil) from: Starwest Botanicals Inc.
Tips for a better performance and duration of your oils:
- Store them in a dark glass bottle, never plastic, not even when blended with a carrier oil.
- Keep them in cool, dark places, away from sources of heat and light.
- Maintain the container that holds it tightly closed, since they are very volatile and also, their properties would be lost or modified.
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