Flavonoids in Calendula – How it Works

Calendula Officinalis Oil

Calendula is full of healing flavonoids. Although this term is thrown around a lot in scientific circles, it is an important term for the general public to know about too. They are an important group of colorful phytochemicals in most herbs, fruits and vegetables. Plants make flavonoids to protect themselves from the oxidative stress of every day living.  This chemical also serves as a pigment. In calendula, the flavonoids make up the yellows and oranges in calendula’s distinctively shaped flower petals.

Flavonoids are more than a beautiful color though. They have a vast array of health benefits. Calendula’s famous skin protection, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity is due in part, to the presence of its concentration of flavonoids. Two of most abundant flavonoids in calendula of all types is quercetin and isorhamnetin. Just the process of being alive is a challenge to the health of body cells. Oxygen is vital to life and also triggers free radicals which prey on cells. Flavonoids step in the way of the process that makes the free radicals. In order to decrease inflammation, Quercetin, the most studied of the flavonoids thus far, diminishes the formation of inflammatory metabolites. These phytochemicals work to both prevent skin damage from free radicals and to rebuild the injured tissue.

The flavonoids in calendula are readily absorbed. This makes the flowers an excellent choice for skin care both topically and internally. Most of the work with calendula has traditionally been with topical use. Calendula in salves, ointments, and infused botanical oils are easy to purchase in any health food store. Case studies show remarkable improvement from rubbing calendula ointment for treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. As calendula is easy to grow and harvest, it can be added for a reasonable price to foot baths or hand soaks where skin damage is most often seen. Easy access and effective results are drawing the attention of the medical community for help in healing difficult skin problems.

There are over 4,000 different types of flavonoids. For general purposes of skin care, the specific types of pigment are not as important as the amount of them. Do not assume that all calendula is alike. Different varieties of calendula grown in different areas have varying amounts of flavonoids. Harvest times also influence the concentration of flavonoids. According to studies, if you are looking for the most amount of flavonoids, the best time to harvest calendula flower heads is 3 days after it blooms. Non-gardeners should look for fully opened calendula flowers heads that are vibrantly colored even when purchasing dry flower heads. Brown or gray flower heads show oxidative damage from age, bruising and sunlight exposure which destroys the pigment and healing qualities of calendula flowers.

 

Sue Sierralupe

Sue Sierralupé is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. She is the clinic manager and lead herbalist at Occupy Medical clinic. Sue is author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios series. Follow her blog at Herbalism Manifesto for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition and a whole lot more.


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