Friday, November 23, 2012

Native Plant Medicine: Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

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Native Plant Medicine: Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

In reading about the plant medicine from Native Americans, and the Four Directions, the medicine from the South was noted for the innocence of life, a direction of curiosity known as part of Mother Earth. This wonderful energy was known for its characteristics that allowed one to watch ants upon the ground with glee. The colors of green and white are mentioned in correlation to the innocence of the child who learn about their environment through exposure and experience.

The medicine consisted of many plants, barks, and natural substances to protect the skin and the body according to G. T. Garrett in his book [1], hints strongly of the preservation of knowledge as a sacred body. One elder hinted that the plants offered a message, and that it was important to understand both the dangers and benefits that are derived from one's environment.

Garrett had this to say about Marigold.
"Also called pot marigold, marigold is used as an astringent and for its antifungal value on skin infections, bites, sores, burns, and itching. It was an addition to the Medicine bag that was used in earlier years for treating severe cuts and wounds. It was sometimes combined with Indian physic (Gillenia trifoliata) for treating insect stings and swelling. It is an astringent and anti-imflammatory, useful for dressing wounds and sores on the skin and in the mouth. It was also used for treating burns.

My Uncle Grady and my father told stories of a family member who served as a Cherokee scout in the Civil War. He was well known for his abilities with plants, but in particular for his use of this plant and others to stop bleeding. Earlier Cherokee called marigold "eye," flower or a ga do li. Difficult skin conditions and sores were treated with a combination of marigold, queen-of-the-meadow, white snakeroot, and coltsfoot in an old mountain remedy. Today marigold is mixed with aloe gel to soften the skin."

The medicinal use of plants may seem scientific, thus one might conceive it simply as "use," and omit the medicinal value of the sacred body that embraces truth. In the strengthening of the heart, marigold has long been highly valued for its properties. From the source photo above:
It is thought that marigold originated in Egypt and was first introduced to Britain and other countries by the Romans. It was one of the earliest cultivated flowers. The ancient Greeks, who used the petals for decoration, also knew of marigold’s other uses, such as coloring for food, make-up, dying fabrics, and medicinal uses. Marigolds have been grown in the gardens of Europe since the 12th century. By the 14th century, many had learned of its many and varied “magical powers.” One medieval author named Macer described marigold in his volume on herbs and thought that merely to look upon the blooms would improve eyesight and draw evil “humors” from the head. They are often called “pot marigolds”due to their use in cooking.

During the American Civil War and World War I, marigolds were used to prevent wounds from getting infected. The blooms were made into either a poultice or infused into oils for application to the wounds. In eastern countries garlands of the brightly colored flowers were, and still are, frequently used in festivals.

Image from Kohler’s Medicinal Plants,
by F.E. Kohler (1887) Missouri Botanical
image source

Medicinal Uses:

Only the flower heads of marigolds are used medicinally. They are well known for their wound healing and antiseptic properties, but modern herbalists have found a wide variety of uses for them, including: an alternative analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, astringent, bactericide, carminative, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, stomachic, styptic, and tonic. The petals of the marigold have been made into an infusion that is useful as an eyewash. They are also good as a natural fabric dye and for food coloring.
Long before the Civil War in the early 1800's, Thomas Jefferson was noted for growing marigold in his garden and is quoted as saying the garden would be:
“restrained altogether to objects of use, and indulging not at all in things of mere curiosity.” Source
So, it seems he is defending curiosity as something not to be taken lightly as Calendula and Onion were the first two plants in the Thomas Jefferson demo garden. In reference to its origin in name, Jill Rosemary Davies had this to say:
"Calendula officinalis, the botanical name, originates from the Latin word calends (which comes from calare, to call).
The Roman writer Varro said that the term calends derived from the priest's practise of calling the citizens together on the first day of the month to inform them of the time of the various sacred days and festivals. Eventually the posting of the calendar in public places replaced this custom, and calends came to refer to the whole month, rather than just the first day. Marigold may have acquired its' botanical name, Calendula, from its' reputation for blooming on the first day of every month. The word officinalis indicates that the plant is useful in medicine."
Indo-European etymology reveals many interesting associations, such as the word "clairvoyant," which is  then attached to the concept "to see," while Calends is considered secondary to calorie. It is here that Biblical references also apply in reference to the call made.
Revelation 3:16
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Revelation 3:15-17
A possible sense of recognition as with the Cherokee elders' stories of message that awareness is key, such as a foundation of body, mind, and spirit seems the obvious notion where science has devised heat as simply use may seem apparent.

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The seeds of the marigold plant seem to possess a protein-like structure similar to the Sunflower known for its spiritual connection to the otherworld. They almost resemble seahorses floating in the sea.

It does seem peculiar that Wikipedia also shows a picture of the seeds where they almost resemble fossils laid out in bone fragments, while other websites say they are simply the shoots from the flowers. These are actually the same origin, although these photos are heavily increasing the magnification of the various dried pods. Generally, the researcher is left clueless in the explicit examination of the seeds.

Many medicinal effects are apparent in today's science of the spirit, marigold is noted for many therapeutic properties.

A quick search at revealed:

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Calendula (marigold) possesses anti-HIV properties of therapeutic interest.
Dandelion, St. Johns Wort, Melissa (Lemonbalm), Marigold, and Fennel have therpaeutic effects in treating colitis and diarrhea syndrome. 
Calendula demonstrates profound therapeutic potential against venous leg ulcers.
Calendula contains compounds with cytotoxic activity against human cancer cell lines. 
Calendula extract shows significant therapeutic potential in the treatment of thermal burns
Calendula flowers have both spasmogenic and spasmolytic properties, providing a basis for its traditional use in abdominal cramps and constipation.
Calendula possesses skin regenerative properties.
Homeopathic calendula is effective and superior to the drug trolamine in the treatment of irradiation-induced dermatitis for breast cancer.

Back in 2009, Natural News had this to say from Barbi Trejo.
(NaturalNews) Marigold (also known as Calendula officinalis) is not just a beautiful flower, but a natural medicine for many conditions. The marigold has now been placed in the books of cancer and anti-cancer cures, because it has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. The marigold is also able to help in the treatment of wounds. It is excellent in healing burns, stings and impetigo (a contagious skin infection.) It is also wonderful in the treatment of warts, corns and calluses. The flowers are also used in the treatment of many skin conditions from eczema to varicose ulcers.


Making Tea:

To make tea or infuse the flowers, make sure that you boil the water and then add 1 tablespoon of the flowers to the pot of tea and let it steep. Do not add the dried flowers to cold water and then let it boil. The tea purifies the blood, so drink this tea regularly. Remedies for the use of the marigold tea:

- Inflammation of the intestines
- Diarrhea
- Liver problems
- Expel worms
- Herpes and glandular swellings
- Hepatitis

Mixture of the tea and horsetail (use half and half)

- Cancer and tumor growths
- Cracked feet and ulcerated legs
- Non healing wounds

Sitz Bath:

What is a sitz bath? A sitz bath is a bath you sit in. Sitz baths are being used for many things from healing the wounds of stitches after childbirth to hemorrhoids, vaginal infections, genital herpes, and bladder infections. So the use of the sitz bath is an "old fashioned" way of treatment, but a very effective one. Place one or two cups of dried or fresh flowers in some cold water for one day. After one day, heat the flowers to just before boiling and add to the warm bath that is up to your hip. Relax in the soothing sitz bath as long as you can. The aroma alone will soothe your spirits.

Fresh juice:

In order to juice the marigold, you may use both the flowers and the stems. Wash both of them and juice them. It is a strong juice and you can add this to some carrot and apple juice to ease the flavor. Remedies that you can use for the juice:

- Warts (note: use the fresh juice with no mixture here on the warts)
- Scabies


Chop some fresh flowers and add it to some coconut oil. Heat slightly and then let cool. The ointments are good for pains. To make the ointment easy to spread, you can add some vegetable oil to the ointment. Some will recommend lard instead of coconut oil. Remedies using the ointment:

- Athlete`s feet
- Nose scabs
- Varicose veins
- Eczema and skin infections


When making tinctures, you can either use alcohol or raw apple vinegar. Dr. Schultz and Dr. Christopher both used the alcohol, such as Vodka. But many for religious purposes prefer something without alcohol, so they use raw apple vinegar. Raw apple vinegar must be cloudy. Real apple vinegar will never be clear. Place some flowers in the vinegar or the alcohol and let it sit in the sun for 20 days. After twenty days, drain the vinegar from the flowers and you have your tinctures. Remedies that the tinctures are used for:

- Regulating menstrual periods
- Treatment of anemic patients

Cold Infusion is used for the eyes. A cold infusion is basically the tea which is let to cool and placed in the refrigerator. Use a cotton pad and dip the pad in the infusion and lay on the eye, changing the pads regularly. The leaves can be used in salads or as fresh vegetables and eaten to heal tuberculosis.

The marigold is a benefit and a treatment for so many illness and diseases, and should be used daily. Many local herbalists carry dried marigolds and they are easily accessible. Always be careful from whom you purchase your dried herbs and go with a reputable supplier.

Learn more:
 This completely edible plant (flowers and leaves) offers a great example that medicine and the love of creation work hand in hand as a child's message about our environment and our conceptual euthenics. In some of the ancient writings, these became rituals and diseases were considered the work of conjurers where the only good medicine was called "love medicine."
"The beloved medicine man or beloved elder woman would provide Medicine in the form of ceremony, chants, formulas, and actions for the individual, family, and tribe to protect the integrity of the individual, the family circle, and the Universal Circle." [2]

[1] The Cherokee Herbal: Native Plant Medicine from the Four Directions

[2] ibid

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