Pot marigold, also known by its scientific name Calendula officinalis, is a perennial plant whose use as a medicinal herb dates back to ancient Indian, Greek and Roman cultures. This variety of marigold is useful in treating a wide range of medical complaints, as it has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. Pot marigold is effective in treating digestive ailments, skin conditions, eye infections, and conditions affecting the circulatory system. It also lessens the pain associated with menstrual cramps, relieves the symptoms of menopause, and speeds the healing process of wounds and burns. Marigold may be taken internally as an infusion or tincture, or applied topically as a lotion or salve.
The pot marigold is an herb with long, oval-shaped leaves and flowers ranging in color from pale yellow to red-orange. It is native to Europe, although the precise location of its origin is unclear due to widespread cultivation. The plant is fairly easy to grow and attracts some species of butterflies, making it a favorite in many flower gardens. Petals of pot marigolds are edible, with a slightly spicy, bitter flavor, and are often used as a garnish. The leaves of the plant are also edible and may be added to salads.
Many gastric complaints, such as cramps, constipation, and ulcers, may be effectively treated using a tincture or infusion of pot marigold petals. Pot marigold protects the gastric and intestinal linings and increases production of bile and gastric juice. Due to the plant's antibacterial properties, it combats the effects of Helicobacter pylori, which is the bacterium that causes stomach ulcers and gastritis.
Terpenoid esters contained in pot marigold petals make the plant an effective anti-inflammatory agent. Salves and lotions made from marigolds are soothing to skin aggravated by acne, sunburn, diaper rash, and eczema. Pot marigolds are also anti-fungal agents that are useful in treating ringworm, athlete's foot, and candida. The flowers of pot marigolds are highly allergenic, however, and may cause allergic reactions in individuals who are also allergic to ragweed or goldenrod.
When used as an eyewash, pot marigolds are also effective at treating conjunctivitis, due to their antiseptic properties. The petals and leaves of the plant both contain carotenoids such as lutein, which promotes the health and function of the human eye. Marigolds also improve blood flow, and may be helpful in treating some circulatory disorders such as varicose veins.
Pot marigold also helps regulate the menstrual cycle and relieves painful menstrual cramps. Women experiencing symptoms of menopause, particularly hot flashes, may find some relief by drinking tea brewed with marigold petals. Pot marigold infusions or tinctures are also particularly effective in cleansing wounds or burns and protecting the affected area of skin from infection, therefore allowing it to heal more quickly.