The florets and leaves of Calendula officinalis, Linné.
COMMON NAMES: Calendula, Marigold, Marygold, Garden marigold.
Botanical Source.—Calendula officinalis has a fibrous, annual root, with a stem about a foot high, having many patent, dichotomous, or sometimes trichotomous branches, which are striated, green, succulent, and hispido-pubescent. The leaves are alternate, oblong, acute, mucronate, sessile, somewhat succulent, broad, a little cordate at the base, the margins quite entire, often scabrous-ciliate. The flower-heads are large, terminal, solitary upon each branch, of a rich, full, golden yellow, deeper and brighter previous to their full expansion. The involucre consists of many nearly equal, appressed, linear-subulate, pilose-hispid leaves or scales, not one-third as long as the radiant florets, the apices a little recurved. Achenia carinate, muricate, incurved. Corollas of the ray ligulate, female tridentate, broadly linear, lower tubular portion hairy; ovary singularly boat-shaped, curved like a horse-shoe, large, green, downy within, having a thickened margin, more or less tuberculated on the back. The florets of the center are all tubular, small, male, and consequently sterile; mouth 5-cleft, base hairy. The abortive ovaries are cylindrical, downy, and green. Receptacle dotted (L.—W.).
History.—Calendula is a native of South Europe and the Orient. It is a common garden herb, with a feeble, aromatic, somewhat narcotic, though not unpleasant smell, and a salty, austere, rather disagreeable taste. The leaves, and more generally the flowers are used, and impart their active properties to alcohol or boiling water. The dried plant has a much weaker odor and taste. The dried flower heads are occasionally found in commerce. The French and the African marigold of our gardens, Tagetes erecta, Linné, and Tagetes patula, Linné, respectively, natives of the tropics, have been sold for true calendula, and it is believed that much of the fluid preparations of calendula are prepared from these plants.
Description.—"Florets about 12 Mm. (½ inch) long, linear and strap-shaped, delicately veined in a longitudinal direction, yellow or orange-colored, 3-toothed above, the short, hairy tube enclosing the remnants of a filiform style, terminating in 2 elongated branches; odor slight and somewhat heavy; taste somewhat bitter and faintly saline"—(U S. P.).
Chemical Composition.—Geiger, who examined this plant in 1819, found gum, sugar, an amorphous, bitter body, a minute quantity of volatile oil, and a tasteless, yellow substance to which the name calendulin was applied. Calendulin is obtained by digesting the flowers and leaves of marigold in alcohol, and then evaporating the solution to the consistence of an extract. This must first be digested in ether, which dissolves a substance analogous to wax, and afterward in water. The mucilaginous substance which remains is the calendulin. It is, when dried, yellowish, translucent, and brittle; it swells up and forms mucilage with water; it dissolves in hot water, but assumes the form of jelly on cooling. It is insoluble in the diluted acids, alkaline carbonates, lime, ether, and the fixed and volatile oils, and soluble in concentrated acetic acid, diluted solutions of the caustic alkalies, and in absolute alcohol. It is not precipitated by tannin.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Slightly stimulant and diaphoretic. Used for similar purposes with saffron, but less active. Has been reputed useful in spasmodic affections, strumous maladies, icterus, suppressed menstruation, typhoid febrile conditions, cancer, etc. Used in infusion or in the form of extract, from 4 to 6 grains, 3 or 4 times a day; also applied locally to cancerous and other ulcers. Probably overestimated. Its chief use is as a local remedy. Dr. William J. Clary, of Monroeville, Ohio, writes me as follows, in relation to this plant: "As a local remedy after surgical operations, it has no equal in Materia Medica. Its forte is its influence on lacerated wounds, without regard to the general health of the patient or the weather. If applied constantly, gangrene will not follow, and, I might say, there will be but little, if any, danger of tetanus. When applied to a wound it is seldom that any suppuration follows, the wound healing by replacement or first intention. It has been tested by several practitioners, and by one, is used after every surgical operation with the happiest effect. You need not fear to use it in wounds, and I would not be without it for a hundred times its cost. It is to be made into a saturated tincture with whiskey diluted with one-third its quantity of water; lint is saturated with this, applied to the parts, and renewed as often as it becomes dry."
The statement of Dr. Clary has stood the test of time, and now hundreds of advocates of calendula endorse it. It may be used well diluted for the chafing and excoriations of infants. Michener (Cal. Med. Jour.), claims remarkable results from its use in gangrenous and indolent ulcers with capillary impairment. Use 1 part of specific calendula to 3 parts of water, locally, keeping the parts constantly wet. Teaspoonful doses every 4 hours of a solution of specific calendula flℨj, in water fl℥iv, are to be given at the same time. He also uses it successfully after surgical operations to induce healing by first intention, to wash abscess cavities, to prevent cicatrization from burns and scalds, in eczematous and ulcerative skin diseases, vaginitis (wash or tampon), endocervicitis, gonorrhoea, non-specific urethritis, and mercurial stomatitis. Dr. Bradner (An. of Ec. Med., 1890), states that cavities from which epitheliomatous growths have been removed, heal quickly under the use of the evaporated fluid extract mixed with petrolatum. Locally, by atomizer, the doctor directs: Rx Tr. calendula, gtt. x to lx; ol. petrolatum, ℨi. Mix. In catarrhal conditions of the nose and throat, with raw and tender membranes, its action is kindly and soothing. Lamoreaux (An. of Ec. Med., 1890), uses it in mild conjunctivitis in the proportion of 5 drops to the ounce of rose water; and as a dressing for lacerated perineum he states that it operates to prevent pain and swelling. In obstetric practice it is of value to relieve burning and smarting after delivery, and relieves to some extent the pain and tenderness of excoriated nipples. In vaginitis, endometritis, all uterine and vaginal abrasions, and non-malignant ulcerations, leucorrhoea, and as an intra-uterine wash, calendula has received strong endorsement. It is a vaso-motor stimulant, and relieves capillary engorgement of the mucous tissues and skin. Congestion of the nasal membranes and its consequent unpleasantness are removed by it. Uterine subinvolution and vaginal engorgements are thus relieved. It stimulates ecchymosed tissues, and has been recommended in varicoses of the lower limbs, using it both locally and internally. Locally, it is applied diluted to inflamed conjunctival and aural tissues, and to traumatic injuries of the eye and ear. Foltz (Dynam. Ther.) employs in suppurative otitis media as follows: Rx Specific calendula, flℨj; boric acid, ℥j. Mix. Ft. chart, No. 1. Use by insufflation. Prof. Webster values it in superficial skin affections, even where there are long-standing inflammatory indurations, as in stubborn acne. Use it both locally and internally. Locally, specific calendula (the best form), from 1 to 4 parts of water to full strength; internally in doses 1 to 10 drops.
Specific Indications and Uses.—Locally, to wounds and injuries to prevent suppuration and promote rapid healing. Internally, to aid local action, and in chronic suppuration., capillary engorgement, varicose veins, old ulcers, splenic and hepatic congestion.
Related Species.—Calendula arvensis, Linné. A cultivated species, smaller than the preceding, and having lighter-colored flowers, undoubtedly having properties similar to those of the foregoing species, its taste and odor being similar.