The history of Calendulas healing ability is as luminous as its orange coloured florets. Known also as the Marigold it has long been one of the most popular and efficacious herbs in baby products, and any topical product worthy of your baby’s delicate skin will contain this natural healer. It is highly regarded throughout Europe as a soothing, infection-fighting, cleansing medicine with benefits that are more than skin deepthink of varicose veins, haemorrhoids, thrush, even herpetic eruptions. In the past midwives and mothers alike have used calendula to heal all manner of skin conditions in babies like nappy rash, eczema, cradle cap, and minor cuts and grazes. And not only is it completely safe for babies, it’s also a fabulous protective and healing agent for mothers with nipple soreness during breastfeeding and skin irritations. The secret to calendulas success as a healer is largely due to its ability to treat such a diverse range of complaints, reflecting its many medicinal actions and therapeutic ingredients. These are discussed here with reference to their usefulness in common baby skin problems.
How Calendula works
The flowering heads of the blooming plants are used to create calendula extracts in lotions, elixirs, tinctures, oils, creams and many other body products. This herb is so safe that it can be used internally, externally and as a homeopathic wound healer. How does it work?
Soothing on the Skin
The soothing properties of calendula are due to many of its chemical constituents, in particular the triterpene saponins and mucilage. Both of these substances provide a soft and ‘demulcent’ healing effect on external skin surfaces and also on mucous membranes internally. Another significant component of calendula is the essential oil which is used in many skin formulations and is aromatic and soothing to smell. These are all reasons why calendula is such a great nutritive for the skin and the best choice for the sensitive skin of a baby.
Anti-oxidant& anti-aging effects
Of the many therapeutic actions of calendula this is the most celebrated, and it is due to the presence of carotenoids, flavonoids and phenolic acids. Carotenoids are an important cellular nutrient, helping skin to heal faster while flavonoids reduce cellular aging and maximize the integrity of cell walls. Phenolic acids are thought to be protective to cells, in particular those in the cardiovascular system.
Where-ever there is skin irritation and redness, an anti-inflammatory action is needed to help the skin recover. Here the triterpene alcohols in calendula exert their powerful inflammation reducing effects. They contribute to the plants overall ability to heal wounds such as burns, cuts and grazes as effectively or more effectively than conventional steroidal applications. The phenolic acids in the plant are known to increase in production after an injury which suggests that they are a key factor in calendulas wound healing abilities.
Calendula is a strong antiseptic, due to it wide variety of chemical constituents, including carotenoids which speed up wound healing and strengthen cells. Along with fighting bacteria in topical preparations, calendula also fights viruses and fungi, particularly those on the skin and nails. Preventing infections means having a healthy immune system, and here the ability of calendula to cleanse the lymphatic system comes into play. A sluggish immune system is nearly always characterised by poor lymphatic function. So by improving the health of the lymphatic system, calendula indirectly support healthy immunity. Due to this cleansing activity the plant is used in Alternative Cancer programs in Europe. In tea form calendula offers a bitter action to stimulate the digestive system, again helping you to cleanse deep down.
Calendula has an astringent action. That means that it is able to improve blood vessel tone and tighten up skin cells, thus reducing the occurrence of complaints such as haemorrhoids. Many new mums find themselves looking for a natural way to combat this condition and it is important to do so as there is a risk of developing blood clots. Calendula once again is the medicine of choice as it contains hydroxycoumarins, anti-thrombotic agents that can prevent this from happening. The plant also contains flavonoids which improve circulation by boosting the health of capillaries. For best results use a product containing both calendula and witchhazel (Hamamelis).
A word of advice
Always buy organic and biodynamic calendula products. Research shows that it is the organic calendula extracts and not the non-organic products that possess the powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-viral activities. Also for pregnant mothers, it is not recommended to drink calendula tea as it stimulates menstruation.
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