One of the most powerful, yet gentle, versatile, and nourishing skin healing remedies is the calendula body butter. The various versions of this recipe for body butter may contain different healing solid and semi-solid oils as a base, but the herbal golden egg in this formula is the oil extract of the mighty calendula (Calendula officinalis) plant.
Imagine a plant so powerful that it quickly heals and alleviates the pain of wounds, prevents scars, and is gentle enough to use on a diaper rash of a newborn baby. If images of a magical golden plant appear in your mind, you are not far off.
The gorgeous, shiny, yellow-orange flower petals of the calendula plant have been used for centuries to heal and soothe a variety of skin conditions such as acne and eczema.
Calendula is one of my favorite medicinal plants, as it possesses many physical and metaphysical healing properties. For these reasons, I love to grow it in my garden whenever I get the chance!
Scientific studies in recent years have proven calendula’s efficacy in improving the outcomes of a long list of skin conditions such as acute hand wounds, venous leg ulcers, c-section wounds, radiation-induced dermatitis, and sun-damaged skin. Quite impressive, right?
These days, calendula stars in many commercial skin-healing and anti-aging cosmetic formulas, and by the end of this article, you will know how to make your own all-natural calendula body butter at home!
The Skin-Healing Benefits of Body Butter
As you have already discovered, calendula possesses many skin-healing superpowers but what benefits do the other calendula body butter ingredients such as the shea butter and coconut oil provide the skin? Aside from having their own powerful skin-healing properties, these ingredients also make the body butters richer and more nourishing than lotions and creams.
The benefits of body butter are numerous! Body butters are traditionally used to lubricate, soothe, seal in moisture, and protect the skin. They are occlusives, which means that they help the skin thrive by improving its hydration. They do so by decreasing water loss through the skin and restoring the ability of the skin to absorb, retain and redistribute water.
In order to maintain its resilience against harsh outside irritants and pollutants, the outer layer of the skin requires moisture so it can flush away toxins and carry nutrients to the skin cells.
Calendula’s Beginnings as a Skin-Healing Powerhouse
The story of calendula is as impressive as its proven reputation for skin healing. Its name comes from the ancient Romans who used it as a garnish in their elaborate celebratory dishes. They observed it bloom every month and liked to imagine that it bloomed on the first day (or calens) of each month.
Although calendula is grown almost everywhere in the world today, its journey began in the Mediterranean. In this area, dating back to the ancient Egyptians, it was grown, eaten, used as a dye and decoration, as an ingredient in cosmetics, and as medicine. The wise ancient Egyptians used it to make their skin smooth, supple, and radiant.
From there, the calendula traveled to India and reached China by the 1200s. In Europe, calendula was used as a topical anti-inflammatory remedy since the 12th century. It made it to North America by the 1600s and before antibiotics became a standard, it was frequently used by doctors and was indispensable as a healing aid in the military.
In fact, calendula ointment was extensively used in military hospitals during the American Civil War and World War I to dress wounds, accelerate healing and eliminate infections. It is no wonder that the amazing calendula is still used by those in “in the know” in the same way that the ancient Egyptians used it centuries ago.
The Metaphysical Healing Powers of Calendula: The ‘Herb of the Golden Sun’
Placing calendula on our skin will heal it through the chemical compounds contained within it, but working with the plant on a metaphysical level can also help us heal on a deeper level by altering the way we respond to the stressors in our daily lives.
Our skin is the biggest barrier between us and the outside world and working with calendula’s magical properties can help us establish a more balanced relationship with the elements beyond our skin’s surface.
Calendula’s association with the sun makes it one of the most important master herbs whose symbolism and essence can be communed with to cultivate self-love and empowerment and facilitate creativity and self-expression.
Cultures around the world have revered the calendula as a plant that has the many qualities of the sun: healing, love, devotion, prosperity, longevity, creativity, nourishment, empowerment, self-expression, communion with the unseen energies, prophecy, and protection.
Those who take the time to observe calendula growing in their garden will see that their beautiful flowers follow solar energy. Alchemists even referred to the calendula as the “Bride of the Sun.” In astrology, calendula is associated with the mighty fire sign Leo.
In ancient times, calendula flowers were often found near temples dedicated to gods who represented the sun, such as the Greek sun god Apollo and the Egyptian sun god Ra.
In India, calendula became known as “the herb of the sun,” a sacred plant used in temple ceremonies, the garlands of which were placed around the necks of holy statues.
During the Renaissance period in Christian Europe, the calendula was so treasured that its common name became “pot marigold” (Mary’s gold). Its flowers were frequently placed next to the statues of the Virgin Mary as a symbol of devotion. In England, during the same period, men gifted calendula baskets to women they desired to court.
It is likely that this tradition originated from the mythological Greek tradition that talks about Catha, a young woman who day after day patiently awaited twilight, because she was passionately in love with Apollo. Her devotion to the god of the fiery sun was so strong that his rays eventually burned her. In her place, a solitary golden calendula grew.
In China, calendulas became associated with longevity and prosperity. Likewise, in many cultures throughout history, calendulas were grown outside the doorstep to attract prosperity and happiness and to protect the house and its inhabitants from evil spirits.
Brides wore calendula crowns on their wedding day in order to manifest longevity and happy marriage. Calendula was also thought to induce prophetic dreams and was placed under the pillow before going to sleep. It was also used as a medium through which one could communicate with the unseen, the spirits, and the fairies.
Why Is Calendula Good for Skin?: Calendula’s Skin Healing Properties
There are over 30 chemical compounds in the calendula flowers, including bioactive compounds terpenoids and terpenes, carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, and coumarins. The various scientific studies conducted over the recent years and decades using different types of calendula flower extracts show that calendula helps heal the skin and wounds via the following 6 powerful mechanisms. And it does so without harmful side effects!
Calendula quickly and effectively eliminates the number of microbes in and around the wound. This speeds up the healing time of the wound because it decreases inflammation at the site. Due to this action, it also prevents or minimizes scarring.
In just one of many studies, the flower extract of calendula inhibited the growth of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and various fungal strains.
Other studies show that the extract of the calendula flower has powerful antiviral activity as it suppressed the replication of many viruses such as the flu, Epstein-Barr, herpes, and HIV viruses.
Inflammation is caused by the free radicals that are produced in and around the wound. These free radicals are harmful because they destroy the lipids, proteins, collagen, proteoglycan, and hylauronic acid on the skin.
A recent study found that bioactive components present in calendula flowers reduce the oxidative stress in and around wounds by scavenging the free radicals superoxide, hydroxyl, and nitric oxide.
This action decreases inflammation, eliminates tissue destruction, and stimulates the cells’ ability to fight the infection. This is why the calendula flower extract is such a powerful anti-aging remedy. It helps protect the skin from sunburn and treats the sunburn while preventing the long-term effects of UV-induced skin damage.
Wound Healing (Vulnerary) Activity
For decades, calendula has been known for its ability to heal wounds by helping form new blood vessels at the wound site. This mechanism is very healing as it increases blood flow to the wound, supplying oxygen and nutrients as well as bringing immune cells to the wound.
Furthermore, calendula has been shown to promote cell repair by increasing collagen, nucleoprotein, and glycoprotein metabolism in the deepest layer of the skin, leading to the generation of new and healthy skin over the wound.
Because of its ability to significantly raise the amount of collagen metabolism at the wound, calendula has the power to decrease or completely eliminate scarring. This is why it is recommended for conditions such as acne or eczema.
Blood Clotting (Hemostatic) Ability
An in-vitro study published earlier this year showed that the calendula flower extract helps stop excessive bleeding and accelerates blood clotting. Furthermore, a few clinical trials have shown that it can help control wound bleeding after oral surgery.
In a study examining the anti-tumor activity of calendula flowers, the compounds found in the extract of the petals called calendulaglycosides were found to destroy melanoma, leukemia, and colon cancer cell lines in-vitro.
Pain-Alleviating (Analgesic) Power
In one study, the extract of the calendula flower had been shown to significantly alleviate pain using the same pain-mediating pathway as opioids.
No wonder then that in a single-blind randomized controlled trial that included 254 breast cancer patients undergoing radiation, the usage of a topical calendula ointment twice daily lowered the participants’ radiation-induced pain scores when compared to trolamine- a topical pain reliever.
Homemade Recipe For Body Butter With Calendula
“The plants have enough spirit to transform our limited vision.” – Rosemary Gladstar
In her book Herbs for Natural Beauty, the renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar writes enthusiastically about the powerful, yet gentle, skin-healing properties of calendula. Her recipes for basic body butters and herbal oil infusions were used as inspiration for my calendula body butter recipe below.
You can use this body butter multiple times per day on any skin condition that may be bothering you or your loved one at the moment. Likewise, I recommend that you use organic ingredients whenever possible.
Materials for Making Healing Body Butter with Calendula
1 part raw virgin coconut oil
1 part shea butter (alternatives: illipe, mango, or kokum butters)
1 part cocoa butter
1 part calendula-infused carrier oil (make your own or buy one from a reputable herbalist)
8-10 drops of essential oil such as ylang ylang, grapefruit, frankincense, or patchouli (optional, for fragrance)
1. Add the coconut oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter to a medium-sized stainless steel bowl. Place the bowl over the opening of a pot filled halfway with water and turn on the stove on low heat. Warm the ingredients like this on the stove until they are melted. Remove the bowl from the heat.
2. Add the calendula oil and the essential oil/s to the bowl and stir the ingredients well.
3. Pour the melted mixture into widemouthed containers made of glass and then let cool. After the body butter is cooled, cover the containers. Store in a place that is cool and dark.
How To Make Your Own Infused Calendula Oil
Materials for Homemade Calendula Oil Recipe
Dried calendula flowers
Cold-pressed carrier oil such as avocado, olive, jojoba, rosehip seed, or castor oil
1. Add dried calendula flowers to a widemouthed glass jar and pour in your carrier oil of choice. (General rule of thumb: 1 ounce (28g) of herbs to 10 ounces (295ml) of oil.) Make sure to cover the herbs with oil by 1-2 inches.
Before placing a tight-fitting lid on top of the jar, cover it with parchment paper to prevent the metal and oil from touching and creating a reaction. Don’t worry if the herbs are floating on top, they will sink to the bottom within a few hours.
2. Place the jar in a warm place and let it sit there for 4 weeks. Shake the mixture every day.
3. Strain the herbs from the oil. You can achieve this by using a fine sieve lined with muslin or cheesecloth.
4. Pour the strained oil into glass containers and place on tight-fitting lids. Store in a dark and cool place for up to a year. You can lengthen the shelf life of the oil infusions by storing them in the refrigerator.
How to Choose The Best Quality Calendula for Your Body Butter Recipe
To ensure that your herbs have the highest grade healing properties, there are certain qualities that they should possess. By investing in the best herbs on the market, you can take advantage of their potency and utilize their powerful essence holistically as both an internal and external remedy.
Here are ways you can ensure that you are getting the best quality herbs on the market:
- Make sure your calendula is wild-crafted and organically grown without any pesticides, additives, and chemicals
- Always buy herbs from a company that cares about consumer health and the environment and that is committed to sustainable production methods; you can discern the level of a company’s quality standards if its products are regularly tested and approved by an independent consumer quality regulator
- The highest quality herbs should always smell, taste, and look like the plant that you are purchasing; if any aspect of the herbs seems unnatural, it is likely the herbs have been contaminated by chemical processing (most non-organic or mainstream herb companies supply the lowest quality herbs from countries like China in bulk and resell them as their own brand for higher prices)
- Buy your calendula and other herbs locally whenever possible; local production ensures better freshness, greater potency, and more
And if you would like my personal recommendation for purchasing high-quality herbs, one of my favorite herbal stores is Starwest Botanicals – the oldest, largest, and all-organic herbal store in the US! Starwest is committed to environmental sustainability and organic herb production and has some of the highest quality controls that they conduct in-house with their control laboratory.
They have been around since the 1970s, and what I really appreciate is their wide repertoire of herbs, spices, and essential oils that I can buy in bulk and that last me a long while. I still have a large bag of dried nettle from Starwest that had come in so handy during my travels abroad!
*Starwest Botanicals is the herbal store of my preference and is my affiliate partner. You won't be charged anything by purchasing herbs through the link on my website, but a small part of the proceeds of your purchase will help the growth of my small business. Thank you!
The most healing recipe for body butter should be one that infuses skin-healing herbs like calendula, nettle, lavender, or arnica. By mixing healing skin butters like shea and cocoa with healing herbs, you can nourish the skin with natural sealants and ensure the medicinal properties of the ingredients heal and protect you for longer.
Body butter infused with calendula has many medicinal benefits ranging from replenishing calloused skin and moisturizing the cuticles to healing skin damaged from prolonged sun and wind exposure.
Calendula has powerful properties that have been shown scientifically to lower inflammation and help heal wounds, making it one of the best herbs for skin health and revitalization.
In fact, it is a panacea herb that I love to add to my morning teas and salads for its cooling (alkalizing) properties – especially if I feel that my body has been feeling more acidic and that my inflammation levels are heightened. In general, it is one of the top herbs (in addition to nettle) that I recommend for full body health upkeep!
And if you’d like to learn more about what it truly takes to heal the skin from the inside out, you can sign up for my free Ultimate Guide to Healing All Skin Issues, which you can find at the bottom of my home page.
My own eczema journey has taught me great insights about the skin membrane and which systems affect its proper function, and I am truly honored to share my knowledge and personal advice to help you on your own self-care journey.